System Lords

System Lords
My Favorite Mistake

Susan Arendt | 8 Feb 2011 12:12
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I saw PC gaming as the pinnacle of videogame brilliance; that I couldn't participate in it was slowly driving me insane. The ads for The 11th Hour taunted me. The box on the shelf mocked me. And then ... salvation! I read that The 11th Hour would be coming to the 3DO, the disc-based gaming console that was so high-tech it practically came from the future. Its price tag was a wallop on my wallet, to be sure, but if shelling out a fat wad of cash let me play computer-quality games, I was willing to make the sacrifice.

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Looking back, I'm somewhat aghast by what a complete idiot I was about the whole thing. I'm tempted to build a time machine if only so I can nip back, slap myself in the head and say "First of all, wait for the price drop, and secondly, just get a damn computer!" At the time, however, my decision made all the sense in the world, and I was happily mesmerized by the 3DO. It was hilariously simple in design, just an ugly square with rounded corners and two chunky buttons on the front, but nevertheless I cooed with glee every time the Cylon-esque power indicator on the 3DO's front lit up.

The 11th Hour actually wasn't due out for some time, so I began to investigate the long, narrow boxes that made 3DO games easy to spot on store shelves (though the weight problems caused by having a game disc in one end and nothing in the other made it tricky to keep them there). Here, surely, was the future of gaming! Real-life actors starring as game characters! Amazing sound quality! Mature themes that couldn't possibly be explored on kiddie machines like a Genesis or SNES! My possession of a 3DO had guaranteed my place among the gaming elite.

Starring Tia Carrere as your fellow space marine, The Daedelus Encounter was little more than a collection of logic puzzles connected by the thin premise of exploring a derelict alien spaceship. You played as Casey, who's a particularly mobile brain in a jar after surviving a horrible accident, and interact with the world around you via probes and other such robo-extensions. I saw it as a clever way to explain the user interface, but then again, I also saw all the disc-swapping the game required as a testament to its vast and epic nature, as opposed to an immersion-killing pain in the ass.

Though it featured Kirk Cameron (yes, that Kirk Cameron), flesh and blood actors weren't the main draw of The Horde, another 3DO game I came to love as I waited for The 11th Hour. After saving the king from choking, you are rewarded with your very own town, which is overrun by bright red monsters every single night. During the day, you rebuild your defenses with whatever resources you have, setting traps, chopping down trees, and constructing buildings. You can also just plain attack the Hordelings yourself, but you only know how to fight by swinging your sword in a huge circle, and if you do it too much you get dizzy. I never made it very far - years later, with far more experience, I'm still terrible at strategy games - but took unreasonable delight in playing through the first few stages over and over again, hoping that this time, I'd find the answer. Plus, there were cows, and I like cows.

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