>> Thursday, December 1, 2005
With Philips being a dutch company, it may not surprise you The Netherlands was one of the most succesful countries for CD-i. When the format was already abandoned in the USA, the dutch CD-i love flourished a lot with a crave for new games. When most companies who produced CD-i games were involved with the format from the beginning, in the Netherlands there were several parties who started just a tad after the ‘hype’. Ofcourse it should be noted Philips was the big spender and most CD-i projects were funded and initiated by Philips…
One of these ‘dutchies’ was called the ‘Dutch Interactive Media Associates’. With the same approach as with the Philips in-house studios like Sidewalk and Artspace, the main objective of DIMA was to produce relatively cheap CD-i games in a relatively short period. They gave us the well-known Family Games, a great game collection of classic small games which was a give-away with european CD-i sets in 1994. In 1995 they released a christmas surprise: Christmas Crisis. Without any preview this title hit the market and hooked the CD-i fans to their screen. With Christmas around the corner this is the perfect chance to relive a CD-i classic with excellent digital video.
When Philips pulled the plug out of their own studios, DIMA people took a step and got totally independent. Being the first company to publish their own CD-i games, this was a big step for the CD-i community. These were the days of ‘Creative Media’, a small company who brought to you Christmas Country, a true follow-up to Christmas Crisis but without the help of Philips digital video encoders… When you compare these christmas platformers you’ll notice the last one was more rough but it supported horizontal scrolling which was a real difficulty on CD-i.
One of the test prototypes was a conversion of Nintendo’s ‘Super Mario Bros’, which is a perfect example that CD-I was capable of playing original NES games. The ‘brains’ of Creative Media were headed in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. With all classic consoles around, they were fanatics of classic games. “With Cd-i you don’t have the perfect game console; Other game consoles win easily when it comes to speed and graphics.The amount of memory is just too low for that to compete. On the other hand it is a real challenge to get out of it what is possible to the max. That’s what we did with Christmas Country: Good graphics with loads of enemies on screen and with a solid framerate. The downside was a lack of music in the game but believe me, the framerate would drop enormously if we would have used in-game music. To add, the game had to be finished in a relatively short period. Ofcourse it’s great when you’re allowed to work on a game for a year but it costs too much money. It’s just not profitable for a small company in a small country. Along the years things are getting easier to develop. The development time of Family Games and Christmas Crisis took around 6 months each, Christmas Country only took us over 3 months to finish.”
Christmas Country was a winner of the International CD-I Association Awards in the category “Home Entertainment Children”. In 1996 Creative Media started developing games for both the PC CD-ROM and the Sony Playstation, but ofcourse they didn’t forget the CD-i. In 1997 they were planning a remake of Christmas Country (The Lost Levels). This game would incorporate more scrolling effects and background music, including all-new levels. A classic remake of Break-Out was developed with the name Whack-a-Bubble, which was released in 1997.
More plans …
Four new games should have been released before 1998. ‘Mr. Miner’ was a classic remake of ‘Dig Dug’, You had to dig down in vertically stretched levels, kill enemies and gain the bonus items to get into the next level. ‘Atomic Shift’ was a remake of the classic ‘Asteroids’. In this game you were flying in a space ship and you had to shoot atoms in parts which would melt together again and again… Very addictive and very high-score-minded! ‘Haunted Pyramid’ should have been a remake of ‘Lode Runner’, which was a perfect classic for primitive platform and puzzle action. ‘Marchin’ Ants’ was based on ‘Centipede’, a classic shooting game.
Unfortunately none of these games saw the light of day, but they sure have a lot of CD-i gems in the vault. One of them is a conversion of Nintendo’s ‘Super Mario Bros’, which is a perfect example that CD-I was capable of playing original NES games. I’m always thinking that, with the Nintendo license Philips had (thanks to their ‘Philips Odyssee Console’ patents), they would have been able to release a remake after the cancellation of the highly anticipated Super Mario’s Wacky Worlds.
With this potential they also developed a four-player adapter for use with certain CD-I players. They designed games for multiplayer action like this with ‘Taco’s Toyroom Troopers’, which was displayed on the back of Christmas Country. The main problem was the incompatibility with different player models. In the end the project was too expensive and neither Philips nor Creative Media wanted to invest more money in the ill-fated CD-i. If the internal issues of the different players were minimized from the beginning, the chance we got to see another third party controller would have been realistic. The four player controller prototype is on our agenda to investigate in the near future so check out the resources regularly!
See you next month!
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