>> Sunday, January 1, 2006
Welcome in 1996. It’s been a decade since this year but it was certainly a milestone for CD-i. While 1995 was the top of the hill for Philips concerning its CD-i outings, they started to shut down most of their own studios from 1996 onwards. Ofcourse this was mainly because the overall sales were dissapointing; it seemed ‘The World’ wasn’t ready for an interactive format like Philips visualized another 10 years ago. The CD-i was definitely a part of the Internet booming days with the start of CD-Online in 1996 for Europe and the United States (Web-i). Other than that, new software projects were slow in the coming. In fact, there were only a handfull of NEW cd-I projects. When you pay a little attention to the copyright of CD-i games around 1996/1997, you’ll notice some of them had been in development for more than THREE or FOUR years! You’re smart enough to figure the final product would never cover the costs of all these years of development! Even when, as was the case with a lot of games, the CD-i conversion was handled by just ONE person!
Now, let’s journey back.
Philips has been in the computer business for a long time. They have developed Personal Computers since the early eighties with the P2000 series. In these days there were lots of third party software houses who were contractually developing software exclusively for Philips and their Home PC systems. One of them was Radarsoft: A small company which was flourishing in the late eighties with products like ‘Dynamic Desk’ and ‘Dynamic Environment’. It was a long way from a concept design to any playable content.These products were delivered with all common Philips PC’s around (exclusively for Philips). When Philips shut down their PC business in the early ninetees, there was still a rolling contract with Radarsoft. With CD-i just around the corner, Radarsoft was offered to create a full funded cd-I title for Philips. Year: 1992. Apparently Radarsoft was given the free world to deliver their own original CD-i title. The project was run by only one person, accompanied with some technical help now and then by two colleagues.
Radarsoft had a long history in the development of games with the Commodore 64, MSX and Amiga software (mainly compilers and assemblers). With these development tools they forehanded a game design for CD-i without any trouble. But, as the project was fully funded, there was no hurry to rush a product to the market. They tried to stretch the technical possibilities of the cd-I, which was possible in a vertically variable 2d world. This would create a semi-3d engine which was very unique on CD-i. The idea is related on how Nintendo was stretching the 2d worlds of Mario into the third dimension (mode 7).
To this end, it was a long way from a concept design to any playable content. During the development time Philips wanted to have exclusive game content for their Internet service for CD-i, and Zenith was among the list with RAM Raid. Philips is known for some fickleness in changing gaming designs on short notices, but to prevent any more delays on this never-ending project, Radarsoft was free to release a stand-alone Zenith title for CD-i. The first version was banned by Philips because the intro included an unacceptable low-framed bumper of Philips and a Zenith intro. The quickest reaction was to erase the whole intro from the game, and this is the version of how we all know it.
See you next month!
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