>> Saturday, July 1, 2006
The amount of games that remain unreleased after the death of a console is
always a shame in the fans' eyes. CD-i is no different and with anticipated
titles like Battle Chess, Star Wars: Rebel Assault and Discworld Philips
left us wanting for so much more by just cancelling one project after
another. I can imagine a cancellation for a publisher when a console meets
its successor or was just doomed to fail, like with CD-i. However, we came
across more interesting aspects when a game like Microcosm was cancelled in
1994. Cd-i was on top of the (small) hill back in 1994 so you wouldn't
believe the consoles` death being the main reason to cancell this massive
project. As a keen reader of the Black Moon Project article section you
didn't miss the statement of Robin Keir being the lead programmer on
Microcosm when he was working at the first Dorking Studio (Freeland). This
story tells you about the technical difficulties Microcosm had and it
certainly was a sour decision to realize Microcosm was technically not
feasable on the Philips CD-i.
Microcosm was hot property of Psygnosis (now part of Sony Entertainment) and when you imagine Microcosm was the same kind of project like the 7th Guest you just knew Microcosm on CD-i was going to be a big event. Third party releases often lack the quality of a game console just because they don't know all the ins and outs of the system. With 7th Guest, Philips bought the license from Virgin/Trilobyte and created a CD-i version from scratch. This was not without any problems as you may remember from various discussions but the end product was one of the very best the CD-i could show you. So although Microcosm is a licensed product, you could see it like a true first party product: Philips at their best.
Dorking will be remembered as one of the most fertile places for CD-i with technically outstanding releases. It is a shame Microcosm had to be cancelled. Even after they shut down the Freeland Studio (along with the cancellation of Microcosm), but built up the second Dorking Studio (Philips ADS) within a year, excellent releases like Pac Panic and Atlantis were great examples of the expertise Dorking enjoyed from the wise-guys at the Philips Redhill Laboratories (right east of Dorking).
According to the pictures here you may be on to the clue already. The answer is yes, recently we got our hands on an original prototype of the progress of Microcosm on CD-i. As you can see in the memory screen, we've been playing around with Microcosm for some time now, since April 2006. The big problem with it was that the disc is the same kind of type which was used for the original Super Mario's Wacky Worlds prototype discs. But hey, that's one thing.
Let's be the first giving the title a proper review, being aware this is one the earliest versions around (v0.05 mind you!)
Without a doubt one of the biggest canned games in CD-i history.... From the same team that worked on 7th Guest. And it shows!
The game doesn't start with a bumper. The first screen is the main menu, showing a 3d letter circle with the options "New game", "Credits", "Password", "Intro". I started with the credits, always a favourite. All I got to see was a (astonishing!!) movie. No credits, they still had to enter those i guess. It was already clear the graphics were one of the best I have ever seen on the CD-i system. Outbeating 7th Guest easily. Surpassing the ones like Creature Shock and even Lost Eden, guys, these graphics look awesome! If they finished this, it could be the best game on CD-i, without a doubt.
The intro shows a different movie about, well, an introduction. Again, great quality. You just have to see it. It's far better than the demo movie we all know about Microcosm on CD-i. They make use of real actors just like in 7th Guest.
It's too bad I never played another version of Microcosm. It's time to try to get one of those... According to the media I can find on the internet, the CD-i version would be the best version around. The Graphics of the 3do version are crappy when you compare them to the CD-i version.
Then the game. The HUB around the play-area is really big, and the part of the action is not even half of the screen. Weird, as the background is filled with FMV video. You enter a tunnel and get to shoot some kind of asteroids. It's like Invaders in 3d, very nice, and above all, fast-paced and very fluid. This goes on for a while and the hub warns for a monster. Then the monster is shown, but I guess this part wasn't finished. The monster doesn't shoot at me, and it doesn't reach me. It's more like a mechanic robot. I can hit it, and after a while the next FMV shows it's exploding. So I don't know whether that is because of my shots, or the first FMV just ended, just like with those monsters in Chaos Control.
After this, I get to see grid lines of a tunnel and blocks which are like a debug mode. Obviously this part wasn't finished either. I played it only twice, but I don;t get the hang of it. After a while the game seems to freeze, and the main menu appears again. bummer.
The game as I played it left me wanting for a lot more.... It is pressed on a TDK CDR which is the exact same kind of disc Super Mario Wacky Worlds was pressed on. The downside we now have is that I cannot copy the disc. Although we are still looking into it (in fact, we won't rest until we have preserved it for the future!) programs like CloneCD, Discjuggler, Isobuster and all the others don't like the disc :(
Ofcourse, any help is highly appreciated. Notice the screenshots are low-quality pics made off-screen, and we will post HQ pics and videos as soon as we are able to.
Visit the CDinteractive Forum for more information, or ask if you have any questions or anything to share.
(c)2006 The Black Moon Project