This was to be Panasonic's Playstation killer, the proposed upgrade to the 32 bit 3DO machine. The idea was to release it as a stand alone and also as some kind of attachment to exsisting 3DO machines. Sadly from day one M2 was pretty much doomed. The screen shots shown back in 1998 were way ahead of anything the machine could have actually produced.
3DO sold the M2 to Matsushita for like $100 million dollars, who then decided not to enter the market with it. This was a pretty big shock to the gaming world back then. Imagine Sony canning PS3 a month before release. A lot of very disappointed 3DO nerds commited suicide that day. Rumor is the guy in charge of the deal ended up running a fish cannery in South America. But it was good news for the 3DO company, who becasue of the deal became one of the few hardware developers to actually see a profit upon leaving the industry. 3DO today survives as a pretty decent software publisher, but it's highly unlikely they will ever enter the console business again.
However all was not finished for the M2. Four games made it into Japanese arcades based on it's hardware, Battle Tyrst, Hell night, Total Vice, and Polystars. A semi complete Demo of D's was also shown at E3 in 1998 (which was later released for the Sega Dreamcast.) The only "commerical" release of anything containing the M2 chipset was the FZ-35S, which was made as a business multimedia device, the only known software being a "virtual car show" type thing and a home desgin program released in Japan. Also it appears that Matsushita incorporated elements of M2 technology into a coffee machine, of all things. $100 million and they're making coffee machines. That's one smart business decesion.
Does it exist? Can you get one? Yes... sort of. With my dedication and extensive research (which involves going to the Assembler forums and reading the M2 thread) a list has been formed of all M2 hardware known to exist, as follows:
2x 3do m2 complete developer system (includes 3do m2 card, cdrom card, cdrom drive unit, documentry and the software toolkit
1x 3do m2 maybe developer maybe early console kit running with software / games
1x 3do m2 developer system (3do m2 dev cart, cdrom drive unit, documentry and software toolkit
2x 3do m2 drive unit
2x 3do m2 developer card
John D. Norman writes:
Also, Matsushita bought the M2 technology from 3DO (which is now defunct), not Panasonic, which is actually one in the same company. The M2 was also the competition for the original PlayStation, not the PS2 which would have been released 4 years-ish after the M2 had it been on time. The system was actually a VERY capable for its time. Titles like D’s Dinner Table 2 and a few projects from 3DO’s own software development groups had decidedly better geometry than the N64 but without the fuzzy textures. Keeping in mind the system would have been released almost simultaneously with the N64 – again, had it been on time – it was quite a bit ahead of the curb. The problem was that Japanese developers had very little faith in the 3DO platform. Most were much more willing to work on a system with a solid brand name like Sega at the time, or much easier hardware to work with like the PlayStation. Matsushita/Panasonic basically got cold feet from this lukewarm response and didn’t want to invest the capital on what was becoming a very crowded video game market.
D2 / D’s Dinner Table 2 was eventually ported to the Dreamcast, not the PS2. After the port of the original D / D’s Dinner Table to the PlayStation (and Saturn), Kenji Eno of Warp pretty much swore off ever developing for Sony again because of the problems they had getting D released on the platform in most territories.
Thanks to Zappenduster and Mr. Norman for the info.
Occasionally M2 prototype consoles pop up on Ebay and go for rediculous amounts of money. But without software you're looking at a $10,000 doorstop.