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CD-i Emulator + Digital Video

>> Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Can you imagine it's been 16 months since the first public release of CD-i Emulator? The first days were pretty hectic with loads of CD-i fans downloading the trial version for free. It was a very special day in CD-i history, because, after the failing attempts with Pete's CD-ICE project, this was the very first working Emulator for CD-i games. The past months we've seen several members asking what's happening with the current version of CD-i Emulator? We all know it doesn't yet allow Digital Video Support, but the fact we are able to emulate great games like The Apprentice, Pac-Panic and Super Mario's Wacky Worlds ofcourse is reason enough to keep interested in this project! Recently the author of CD-i Emulator posted some hints about upcoming events, including emulating Digital Video and enhancements like keyboard support. "I expect to resume serious work on CD-i emulator early 2007, but it's hard to make promises. But by all means hang on to those games, or at least keep disc images of them; MPEG support is still in the works..." Delays including a wonderful baby born, we wish cdifan all the best :D "I still have some tax forms to fill in and after that I hope to have time for CD-i Emulator again..."


Inca: CD-i Review

>> Sunday, January 28, 2007

Back in 1993, this title was highly over-shadowed by Philips’ high profile title: The 7th Guest. Compared to this one, Inca looks pretty bad. That’s unfortunate, because there’s a highly clever story and gameplay behind the title. According to insights Inca was one of the most expensive CD-I games to make (along with The 7th Guest). Does it show? Not really, but the port from CD-ROM may have caused several problems to run it smoothly on CD-i. However, this game is big, and its story is very well worked out. Why did it receive so little attention?

Developer: Coktel Vision (Sierra Online)
Publisher: Philips Media (France)
Release: 1993
Genre: Adventure (with action/puzzle elements)
Review date: January 2007
DVC Required: NO
Recommended: Mouse/Trackball
Extra: no multiplayer, age rating: >12+

One thing that hooked me to this game was the setting: It is based around an ancient Incan world flooded with science fiction and folklore. I will explain the story for you: In a drift from time and space, you awake to fulfill a destiny set over 500 years ago. You have to save the lost Incan civilization. This “Back to the future” idea marks a very original game, a true blend between action and adventure, born in a rich past, set in an unknown future.

The game has been developed by French based Coktel Vision, which showed the potential of designer Pierre Gilhodes. Pierre also gave the popular “Goblins” series (from parent company Sierra) its visual style. Inca offers different styles of different game genres, put together with a clever story-line. Something that would never work in theory, but it unfolds beautifully in our imagination. Then comes the true point: You will only appreciate Inca to the most if you are immersed to the unusual theme, which is based on both facts and fables.

The story starts in 1525, and an Incan ruler named by Huayna Capac tells a story about the Tawantinsuya Empire. Capac predicts the arrival of disasters like floodings and earthquakes. He talks about “beared savages”, thieves from Spain lured by tales of El Dorado. According to the legend, El Dorado was an Incan Chief, celebrating typical rituals by covering himself in gold dust. He is called “The Gilded One”. As a sacrifice to the God of Nobility, he washed off the gold in Lake Titicaca. Incan followers also toss gold into the Lake to worship the God of the Sun. Seven years later the Spanish thieves started to battle with the Incan community. The Incan army was soon defeated, but the thieves (led by Pizarro) never found a lot of gold. It’s the credo of Capac: The real treasure (Inca knowledge) will never be found. Now, we go 500 years into the future and we’re boarded at Paititi, a lost city adrift in space. The spirit of Huayna Capac approaches you and welcomes your return as El Dorado. Soon Capac tells you about the Incan Sun which has to be recovered by retrieving the three missing jewels: Energy, Matter and Time. In order to find the jewels, you have to gain trust from various spiritual protectors and defeat evil powers of Aguirre (symbol of the spanish thieves).

The game itself follows a lineair path divided in three parts: One per jewel. Ofcourse, every part increases in difficulty but also in diversity: The most fun parts of the game occur in the latter stages. Especially the end scene where you have to fight the Spanish Galleons, huge three-masted ships firing cannonballs: amazing stuff. It offers a mix between arcade action and mind buggling puzzles, going from 3D space combat in first person perspective (Like in Kether), to logic puzzles as found in The 7th Guest. Unsolved puzzles will hold your progress, and you will be killed by failing the arcade shooting scenes. The save system works with periodically passwords which saves a lot of memory space which is a big plus (regarding the very minimal memory capacity of CD-i). After each stage you will receive a password, so you can continue from these milestones.

The interface of the game is cursor based with different functions in two available modes: Cockpit-view (space arcade scenes), and Ground-view (3D mazes). The cursor serves as weapon crosshairs and as a pointer to which direction you want to go. The screen in where it all happens is pretty small, probably because of the limitations of the gaphical power of CD-i. The screensize during space-fights is as large as the Ground-view scenes. You’re not only fighting though, you also pick up items like keys. In ground-view, you’re fighting Aguirre’s warriors in 3D mazes, with plasma bolts instead of swords. The sound effects are of very high quality and the digitized video is implemented well, although it could have been a lot better using the Digital Video Cartridge.

The graphics interface makes use of both 3D polygons (space scenes), digitized video (character models) and detailed bitmaps (puzzles). The sound deserves a special mentioning: Sampled effects like footsteps and slamming doors are of very high quality and gives the game a nice touch. Coktel Vision offers full character voices (all in true Audio CD quality) in various languages including Dutch, French, Italian. Excellent stuff, this is something I’ve never seen on a different CD-I title. One of the biggest flaws with Inca is with its speech. It’s all going pretty fast and there’s no way to hear it again, so if you’ve missed it, you might have missed very important information to go on. The puzzles sometimes require simple hints of Capac, so you have to listen carefully to him. Another flaw is in the speed of the 3D mazes, it comes a little tedious and dull to find yourself wandering not knowing where to go and coming across the same warriors over and over again. Here, the loading times are a tad long, but hold on, because you still want to know what’s coming next: a charme that keeps Inca hooking you to the screen.

End comments:
Inca is highly underrated and doesn’t get a lot of attention these days from any CD-I enthusiast. It definitely deserves more: it offers a challenging mix between arcade and puzzling, a quite original ancient space theme, a long quest to go through, all presented in your local language. If you want to have a diverse game, Inca should be considered. However, it’s a hit or miss game, if you don’t like the Incan theme, you might enjoy the future minded Burn:Cycle a lot more, which is in fact the same kind of game offering the same game elements like action and puzzling.

Graphics: 5
Low-res, bland. Inca screams for a Digital Video version. The cut-scenes could have been a lot smoother, character models are integrated from real actors, which gives it a natural touch. The overall game is very dark, and the 3D mazes aren’t realtime, but exist from pre-rendered scenes. The play-field is very small (half the screen), obviously to prevent the game from getting too slow..

Sound: 8
The soundtrack offers over 40 minutes (=14 tracks) of original New Age music, performed with authentic Incan woodwinds. Another extra is the minor hit single of J. Marrier: “Inca People”. The main menu allows for instant access to the audio tracks, and it’s a minor pity the tracks aren’t offered as an Audio CD, just like how SPC Vision has treated their games on CD-i. All the audio is presented in high quality, and the effects are implemented very well. Without a doubt the best bits of Inca!

Playability: 7
The game plays very nice and doesn’t suffer many slowdowns as I expected. However, exploring the 3D mazes asks for a lot of patience, and responds slow to my movements. However, there aren’t any long loading times, which feels great. The puzzles are clever and sometimes difficult, and the shooting scenes are very smooth. There is no detail level as in Kether, but it definitely plays very well.

Value: 6
The game is pretty long and will keep you busy for a lot of hours. But, after you’re done, there’s no reason to come back. Been here, done that. Some parts can get a little tedious, especially the 3D mazes. However, if you use a walkthrough you can skip them really fast. In Fights are fun though and you can return to any specific scene to replay, which puts it back on the map.

Overall: 7 (not an average)

Similar games on CD-i:
Burn:Cycle, or a combination between Kether and The 7th Guest.


Dorking CD-i Studios

>> Saturday, January 27, 2007

Dorking was home to the European Headquarters of CD-i, just at the west side of Redhill (London, UK). Ofcourse Redhill is the base of Philips Research were a lot of CD-i software (mostly dev tools and standardization) was being developed, and a fast road between these villages ensured a close communication. During the CD-i era, there were actually two CD-i Studios based in Dorking. The first Dorking Studio was based in the Freeland Building, and Philips called it "Philips Freeland Studios". This amazing studio was responsible for the rise of Digital Video in user concepts, which resulted in game projects like The 7th Guest and Microcosm. Although games were not the biggest deal of Freeland, it is still the most remembered part. The 7th Guest offered amazing graphics, especially for 1992/1993. It really showed the capabilities of the machine. Freeland went to the max, and both games reached the ultimate CD-i was capable of. Unfortunately Microcosm was cancelled in 1994 partly because of technical difficulties. You've seen all the details about the Microcosm CD-i proto here before, and if you've watched the videos, you will know this version was going to have the best graphics of all conversions of this game! In the end, these projects cost a lot of money and they shut down the Freeland Studio in 1994.

One year later, Philips once again started a CD-i development studio in Dorking, known by "ADS", which stands for Advanced Development and Support. Credited as "CD-i Conversions", it took The Black Moon project a lot of time to uncover the real story behind this. ADS was a small development house, and as you've read in the Johhny Wood interview, the people were around in the scene for a long time doing compatibility and encoding jobs for several CD-i projects. 1995 was the year of release for their first CD-i conversion: Pac-Panic. Again one of the finest conversions around. they continued with Arcade Classics, and ofcourse the high profile title Atlantis, created in close co-operation with the Philips Redhill people. Currently The Black Moon project is hosting the extensive history behind this Atlantis project, and it's the most beautiful piece of history I've ever read about CD-i in a long time! The best thing is, we didn't even have to dig into contacts: They contacted us :D Thanks to all the people involved and I hope we'll uncover more and more and more ;)


Philips back in content-related technologies

>> Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Royal Philips Electronics announced the distribution of a content-related technology, protecting copyright on video. The technology will indicate the origin of video or music. Using this technology YouTube could have identified the 30.000 videos Google removed as it was unclear about the origin. For Philips the launching is remarkable as the company had moved away from content and content-related technologies since 1996, the year that marked the end of the Compact Disc Interactive: CD-i.

Philips will launch MediaHedge, an anti-piracy tool designed to help sift through the growing volume of online video files. Philips works together with a number of partners. The system works by checking the digital "fingerprint" or unique characteristics of video files and looking for a match in Philips' database of video content. The service can spot a match even if the video file is degraded, altered or amounts to a small slice of the original video, according to Philips Content Identification, a unit of the Netherlands' Philips Electronics NV. Copyright holders can specify in advance whether they want to allow videos containing their footage to be posted on sites running MediaHedge, or whether they should be blocked or otherwise restricted.

In 1992 American Interactive Media changed its name in Philips Interactive Media, a worldwide publisher of CD-i and CD-ROM software.The move of Philips has a history. It was after a major study into the future direction of Philips that the Dutch consumer electronic company started to move out of content and content-related technologies. So the company started to sell off all the CD-i technology and assets in 1996, which ended up with Infogrames, and in 1998 its music division Polygram, which was sold to Universal. The reasoning was that Philips as a consumer electronic company should be a manufacturer and not a content producer. It would give Philips the freedom to manufacture devices regardless of copyright issues. And the policy proved to work when the mp3 music devices became trendy.

From 1996 Philips started to invest heavily in health devices. But it still was producing television as well as video and music equipment. The introduction of the DVD player was typically such an event. And as a responsible company, Philips started to develop content-related technology, especially anti-piracy tools like MediaHedge.

Source: Buziaulane


Lucky Luke: The Video Game - CD-i Review

>> Monday, January 22, 2007

Philips CD-i is not known for realtime high action games. Developers often complained about the lack of sprite support and the scrolling issues. After the launch, CD-i was promoted with 'static'games like Connect Four and Battleship. Was this everything the CD-i had to offer? Luckily Eindhoven based SPC Vision started a CD-i games division, developing exclusively for CD-i. Two years after the excellent CD-i platformer "The Apprentice", SPC returned to the 2D platform genre once again with a licensed character: Lucky Luke.

This was right on time, because the cartoon licenses were hyped soon after, and companies like Ocean and Activision paid a lot of money to be granted these licenses. This resulted soon in the next Lucky Luke game on the Playstation, by Ocean. However, SPC was known for great gameplay and graphics on CD-i, so let's see what it had to offer.

Developer: The Vision Factory (SPC Vision) & PixelHazard
Publisher: Philips Media (germany)
Release: 1996
Genre: 2D platform adventure
Review date: January 2007
Required: Digital Video Cartridge
Recommended: Gamepad
Extra: no multiplayer, age rating: >12 (USK), >11 (ELSPA)

At first I was a little sceptic about this game, after seeing it for the first time in a CD-i kiosk in 1996. After the award-winning "The Apprentice", the main thing that confused me was the relatively large character on screen. In fact, Luke takes up half the TV screen ;). Ofcourse, I don't want to judge a title on first sight, and after my first play I was very surprised about the quality of this game. Graphics-wise SPC did an excellent job, especially the weather effects were very cool and I never thought this was possible on CD-i. I suspect the use of the Digital Video cartridge was needed to perform this kind of animation on CD-i, still I'm not sure. This was the second time I didn't believe the CD-i was capable of a game like this. The first time was with "Litil Divil", and I'll tell you about that one in a next review.

Basically, this is a normal 2D platform game but totally different than the usual "Mario" games one may think of automatically when it's about platforming. If you've played SPC Vision's other CD-i games, you know the games are quite difficult and you won't go far by just running and jumping to the end. No, you have to know what you're doing. The first level you start with a simple pistol, allowing you to shoot one bullit at a time. When you encounter an enemy, you notice its life level on the top left. Normally 4 bullits are enought to kill him. Before that, you'll see the bullits go "matrix style": it's a nice yet tricky move to fire your gun and slowly follow the bullit to its target. This requires a little tactic to shoot everyone down, instead of wildly firing all that moves on screen. Thankfully, the levels are filled with gun-update-boxes: Up to a double-barrel shotgun (I love his voice when you find this gun) and it shoots out 3 bullits at a time, in one hand! Very cool, but not as cool as the dynamite boxes you'll find on the way. One click and an eagle flies over holding the TNT and you decide when he'll drop it. A major explosion is the result, killing anyone that's near. Very nice!

Already in the first level you get to meet your good friend Rantanplan, who is always following luke. However, he's not as stupid as he often is in the comic series. When you find a bone Rantanplan comes to get it and goes into fight with anyone you want him to get. So he is a major help when a lot of enemies are on screen. However, no more than three enemies will be on screen at the same time because the screen won't go further before all enemies are killed. This give a little "Double Dragon" feeling to the game. This also prevents you from jumping and running through the whole level.

Back to the story. Like with all Lucky Luke adventures, it's about the Dalton brothers having escaped again. It's your task to find them and put them back to jail. If you thought basic platforming is the only type of playing here: you're wrong. If you closely follow the question-mark track on every start of a level (notice the animation!), you see the question mark changing into a town building (that's a normal platform level) or a wigwam. That means you're going to ride your good pal Jolly Jumper! Horse-riding is very diverse, while the scrolling this time goes automatically, be aware to jump over obstacles like trees and rocks, picking up bonus targets and killing all the enemies. It's amazing how SPC got to create this kind of action on CD-i, really.

When the question marks goes into a train, it's the same type of level on Jolly Jumper, only you're catching up an on-going train instead of an indian village. After three levels of fun like this, you enter the mines where you have to race against one of the Daltons. He has a barrel of gold blocks which are one by one falling off due to the rough way in the mines. Be careful to pick them up because you need them to complete the level. At the end you have to fight the Dalton: SPC once again created great end levels with loads of action and always a tactical way to defeat the enemy. It's all in the same style as the end monsters in the Apprentice, and it's great to see a lot of (graphical) references to this title as well.

The use of the Digital Video Cartridge resulted in various cool graphic effects. This is the first platform game with different background layers, and one that goes higher than just the one screen. Also the weather changes from time to time, creating a cool day and night effect, not to forget rain and thunders. The save system works automatically after every three levels, and each level has a checkpoint so you won't have to start all over when you're dead. After you've beaten a Dalton, you get to enter the bonus stage, when you have to use the controller as a gun, like in Mad Dog McCree. Balloons are floating by with the letter LUCKY, you get free lives when you get them all. Loads of extras can be found here, like coins, extra time (pick the hour-glass) and extra guns to start with in the next level.

So what do others say? Gir from the CD-i Collective only rates it 2/5. To quote a few lines: "animation becomes stuttered and clunky as the screen scrolls, and the desire to fully animate the hero also makes it easy to cheap hit him." >> there's a true point in this, as the action doesn't goes as smooth as in The Apprentice, and it's up to your oqn opinion whether you think this affects gameplay. In my view, it doesn't. But you have to get used to the way of playing, that's for sure. "The best thing that can be said for this one is it's audio. Pretty darn right on there pardner. One of the CD-i titles that can be played in an audio CD player, it does have some pretty decent music for it's type." >> Another great remark. Ofcourse, SPC Vision is known for its CD-Ready format and always gives you the opportunity to play the game-music in a normal audio player: A great extra. Giving the quality of the soundtrack, it's definately a plus. "Control is what it really comes down to in this one, flashy graphics and sounds are ok... but the control is really pathetic. I honestly felt I had more control when the controler was unplugged." >> At this point he's overreacting a lot, and I don't know why this is said about Lucky Luke. OK, it;s not as fast-paced as its "prequels", but it doesn't hurt the game, as long as you're willing to, ofcourse! Gir's comment on the colission detection is right the charme I find in this game, and again this is no bad issue for a game like this.

End comments:
To sum it up, I think this is a damn good platform game for CD-i. It's shorter than the Apprentice, but it does make up for that offering a very diverse gameplay and a lot of fun. The pick-up-and-play thing is a little tricky, and don't get scared off immediately by the controls. As with a lot of game classics, this is one to get used to, and once you will, you'll discover a gem of a game. At the original retail price of only 30 dollars, what else do you want?

Graphics: 9
SPC stands my memory as one of CD-i's greatest producers. The very colourful anime art is typical to every game, and mixing this with the classic Lucky Luke license makes this the most unique Lucky Luke game on any platform, period.

Sound: 9
Again, this is a part where SPC shines. The soundtrack is heavily inspired by INXS and Sun Electric, creating a blend of electronic and disco music. Play it with a normal audio player and experience the sound: classic!

Playability: 7
To some, a little hit and miss situation. Because of the very clever response times the Apprentice was able to achieve, any downgrade is automatically seen as a con. However, it's a mix you have to make between graphics and gameplay. Lucky Luke takes it a little more to the graphics experience. This meant I was shocked to see this quality on CD-i, but it took a little on the control side to compensate ;)

Value: 7
Personally, I've played this game over and over again, and for me it's no less fun every next try. Ofcourse, after you've played all the levels, you'll want to return to find the secret levels, but there's no multiplayer or extras to keep you hooked any longer. The game is relatively short, and will leave you wanting more.

Overall: 8 (not an average)

Similar games on CD-i:
The Apprentice, Christmas Country, Pyramid Adventures


CD-Imagine (3) - Lego Mindstorms

>> Sunday, January 21, 2007

This is an existing CD-i prototype actually, and in possession of the CDinteractive Team. However, the title needs a peripheral device like a different kind of controller in order for the applications to run. The Lego Mindstorms CD program was converted to CD-i but probably it only exists in prototype status. Since we have no idea how to run the program, only the CD-i file system hints at all the possibilities this CD-i would have had to offer. The same great ways to program the popular Lego robots, CD-i would have been an ideal format to go for. Sadly, great potentials like this never reached it to the (professional?) market, so it's just an edition for CD-Imagine ;)


CD-i Reviews: A Different Take

>> Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Internet offers a lot of reviews of all kinds of games including CD-i. The most recent entries were posted at Defunct Games, a website focussing on 'defunct' games. However, there were quite some comments on how they construct their reviews. For years I've been wanting to start my own index but without a lot of time to invest this never got off the grounds. Now is the time Interactive Dreams is able to host my upcoming thoughts about all CD-i games, without knowing how far I'll get :D! I hope to discuss my thoughts with yours and bring back the excellent memories CD-i games brought me and a lot of other people!

Ofcourse I set some ground rules before grading any title: I'm going for a similar take as popular game-site uses to review, including a final score, leaving you open for reader reviews below. Different takes would be awesome to get here!


What if Philips CD-i would appear on Nintendo's Virtual Console...

>> Thursday, January 18, 2007

Besides being a cash-cow I think Nintendo's Virtual Console is the perfect way to conserve all the retrogaming platforms from gathering dust. And because CD-i and Nintendo already have something in common, it would be a very nice extension to the download list as well! Eventually the obscure Nintendo licensed CD-i games would reach a mass public. It would boost the interest in a console that already appeals to the same public: A family friendly system with easy-to-pick-up games. Wouldn't families enjoy the Kidspace classics like Sesame Street, Richard Scarry and Mother Goose to download from the Virtual Console? Wouldn't you enjoy the died out FMV game genre like Mad Dog McCree and Dragon's Lair again?

Supported platforms currently include the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) and Nintendo's own classics. Ofcourse these cartridge based formats never have much data to transfer once you want to download a game. CD-i games easily go up to 700MB when the game supports Digital Video. But the main problem would be to get all the copyrights. However, a lot of those software companies don't even exist anymore. It's hard to discover what happened to them, but the copyrights are probably bought by parent companies. Unfortunately Philips is a big company and I doubt there would be any interest.

What do we need to do to make this happen? It would be great to save the CD-i genre in the famous "Virtual Console", and play the Apprentice and Hotel Mario like ever before. These CD-i games will extinct after all CD-i batteries are dead and no full supporting emulator have been built by then. And because CD-i is not the most easy platform ever invented, I cross my fingers for this to happen in the first place! Meanwhile it would be the ultimate goal the Black Moon Project would reach if CD-i is hosted at Nintendo's domain for good.


Micro Machines on CD-i

>> Sunday, January 14, 2007

With the recent release of Micro Machines V4 Codemasters returned to the market with its original pocket racer with even a CD-i release in 1995. Some months ago we welcomed a special CD-i member: The producer of CD-i Micro Machines. Like with Creature Shock, Codemasters only put one man on the CD-i project, and he had to convert it from the original NES version. Actually, it very nearly didn't even happen as he was the only person in the whole company who was interested in taking it on - CD-i wasn't "interesting" compared to SNES, Genesis etc. :p

Micro Machines was almost entirely handled inhouse at Codemasters. He personally did the programming, converted from the original NES 6502 assembler code (there was some dispute over the 68000 assembler code for the Sega Genesis which would have been SO much more useful on the CD-i). The game graphics, extra level designs and audio were also done inhouse. The FMV sequences were handled by a couple of external graphics guys. Philips provided a lot of support via their team in London and their QA facility in Hasselt. But as far as development goes... Codemasters did it all. "I know it's not a perfect conversion, and is a little sluggish, but that machine was NOT designed for multiway scrolling. Philips asked a couple of times if they could have the source code for it, but I believe we didn't hand it over. I still have backups of the source, assets and master discs. Interesting. I didn't know the retail disc had the text "Special Edition" on it. This would mean that the disc image that got mastered was not the very final one we produced. There was I believe one further disc image produced within one or two days of that one. There would have been no game-related changes in those 2 days. So if anyone's hoping for hidden features or anything, then they'll be disappointed. Interesting detail to notice on the video extracted from the CD-online Issue 01 Disc: It appears that the footage has been speeded up so that it looks like a fast paced racer.There was only one version of the title and the 3D bits were included for all decks. It was a CD-i only feature. Altered Images were a couple of guys (based in Reading I think) who did the renders for us, it was one of the very first times Codies did this kind of thing so they wanted to test it out cautiously at first. Originally the sequences were intended for the DV card, but then it was decided we wanted to support base case. One of our other freelancers (smart guy called Jon Menzies) wrote a video packer and player just for this project. So the video ended up not quite as slick as we'd hoped, but as good as could be expected for CPU playback on base case."

Interesting detail to notice on the video extracted from the CD-online Issue 01 Disc: It appears that the footage has been speeded up so that it looks like a fast paced racer. As we know the final release was sluggish compared to other versions, but then again we never expected a multi scrolling racer to be possible in the first place!!

"Secondly, I'm pretty certain that *is* the CD-i footage, but simply sped up timewise. Shame the game never ran at 50/60fps... I do have the source code though, if only I had the time and motivation (and rights) to try to optimise it! I might also arrange to get a copy of the final bibliographic file on blackmoon that should have been mastered. For starters, it credits a few more people that deserved it, and it might also set this 'love story' thing straight. That comment is a little out of context so it's a bit unfortunate it got pressed.. Sorry to disappoint anyone, but it wasn't exactly what it may appear to be. That game was one of the oddest projects I've ever worked on!"


Philips Continues Game Moves in 2007

>> Saturday, January 13, 2007

Nintendo seems to get the most attention with their innovative approach to videogames. Using the DS to whisper through a microphone, blow open doors, touch sensitive screens, and the new Wii console to virtually immerse your joystick into a golf stick and tennis racket, physical actions are more and more important to get the virtual feeling out of the screen. This is something different than we thought of "Virtual Reality" in the first place, right :D! After Philips stepped out of the CD-i market, they never stopped their interest and research in the gaming platform. In fact, they believe in a gaming revolution to boost in 2007. Products like the Entertaible, LivingColors and WowVX will change the way we play games forever.

One of the high-potentials is amBX: "amBX is shorthand for ‘ambient experiences’. Driving the next generation of home entertainment, it’s a scripting language, a software engine and architecture. With amBX, multiple devices in your room work in harmony to deliver new entertainment experiences: surround lighting, sound, vibration, air movement and other effects. It takes what’s pretty much a ‘virtual’ activity - games, DVDs, music - and turns it into a far more tangible, immersive experience. If you’re a gamer, the virtual world reaches out from your screen. You feel the action: the movement of vehicles, shifts in lighting, rumbling explosions, ricocheting bullets, wind in your face. The mix of ambient lighting, vision, sound and tactile sensations mean the gaming experience will never be the same.

The applications of amBX are only limited by the imagination and creativity of content creators and, ultimately, end users. Just imagine ambient room lighting and other changes tied-in to your favourite music, to web content, interactive toys and games, books, or even to reflect the time of day and your changing moods? An amBX-enabled world is starting to emerge around you – Bringing a new dimension to entertainment. If you’re into movies and DVDs, amBX will take you into the action through the use, ambient surround lighting that feeds your senses in the same way surround sound heightens the audio experience." (source:

At their own Simplicity Event, Philips introduced the upcoming amBX gaming hardware with a Supreme Commander demo - promising console-related announcements at GDC in March. Showing the amBX technology with the use of some oversized replicas of the initial set of lights, fans and speakers that make up the PC peripheral range, Philips used THQ's high profile RTS title to demonstrate how additional ambient colour and other effects - similar in concept to Philips's successful Ambilight televisions range, where a backlight behind the screen matches colours in the content being displayed - will, according to US boss Stewart Muller, "blow gamers away: literally. It transforms the entire gaming experience, what you have is a wall-washer, which displays 16 million colours behind the computer screen. You have two desk fans which blow at different intensity levels depending on what's happening in the game. You have two satellite speakers with integrated lights. What's not shown here is the wrist-rumbler and the subwoofer. In essence, the amBX technology you have just felt represents a totally new software language that gives gamers an experience in the real world, not just the virtual world."

After the presentation, amBX chief marketing officer Jo Cooke claimed Supreme Commander is just the start in terms of top content becoming "amBX-enabled". "THQ was the first publisher that signed with us, so we wanted to support them with today's demo. We've just signed a deal with Gas Powered Games - the developer of Supreme Commander - so I think it shows that we're committed to helping them bringing new technologies into their games. THQ was very happy to give us the content to use. There'll be plenty of other games and we're looking at any new game that's coming out to see how different genres react with amBX, because it's not a genre-specific technology. It's absolutely our objective to make amBX the technology that just should 'be there', in the same way surround sound applications are now. We're talking to all the publishers and we're looking for really key high profile games. At GDC we will be showing how amBX might run from a console point of view. Over the course of the next 12 months we'll be making announcements about what we're doing with other platforms, which platforms we support first and which software we support with it." (source:

Currently amBX is focussed on PC games including Broken Sword: The Angel of Death, Toca Racing Driver 3 and DEFCON. The ambitious idea to transfer the technology over to bring alive movies and the internet itself, I think is mind-blowing and very promising. If you want more information about the amBX technology, please read the online Ambient Magazine from Philips. Next time we'll take a closer look to Philips' other innovative products that'll enhance gaming!


Interactive Dreams *Kick-off*

>> Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Yesterday we changed the image structure which caused a lot of missing pictures on the website. Hopefully you haven't had much trouble by this, however in the meantime we're busy putting everything back. The lay-out is already back to normal, and the newest posts are updated with the new locations. The older posts are still blanc on images, but I hope to fix them soon! When all that is done, it's time for the celebration of our new system :)


The "Digital Video on CD-i" Standard

>> Sunday, January 7, 2007

The White Book was released in 1987 by Sony, Philips, Matsushita, and JVC. This standard refers to a standard that stores not only sound but also still pictures and motion video. This format is known as Video CD (VCD). Unfortunately the research in motion video was not as far the standardization process, carried out for the biggest part by Philips. Philips released the Digital Video Cartridge as an add-on for the CD-i player in 1993, after Philips Sidewalk Studios was mainly responsible for the development of the Digital Video standard. This is the same studio who published over ten children titles for cd-i (all without use of full motion video, the irony).

Philips started to publish movies on CD-i, in a format complying with the Green Book (interactive cd), not the White Book (Video CD). As Philips took care of the publishing process, signing licenses and investing money, they probably wanted to be sure people would play these movies on a CD-i product. Sidewalk Studio:"Let's say this about the project at this time: if there were, say, 15 things that needed to be done to lead to DVD, we did 13 of them."I always wondered if this was a reaction of the CD-i participants (Sony, JVC, Matsushita) leaving the CD-i platform even before Philips released it. After the surprising interest in the Philips VCD Masterlist, I'd like to seperate the titles released in "Digital Video on CD-i" format, and titles released in "Video CD" format.

Why Philips changed to go with the Video CD standard after "a while", I can take a guess they would reach a wider public selling more discs. Perhaps the titles were more profitable comparing to the CD-i hardware. Maybe the encoding process of Video CD was easier and cheaper? If you think about it, there is more history behind this shift rather than you would think in the first place!

If you have any movie in "Digital Video on CD-i" format, please let me know, I hope to create a seperate list between the two formats Philips published in.


CD-i: from encylopedias to internet

>> Saturday, January 6, 2007

The world on your TV. Using these words the world was prepared to a new phenomenon, something CD-i was made for: Encyclopedias on TV. Somehow this feels like a prequel to the Internet. Now digital encyclopedias like Encarta are of much less interest to the main public thanks to the web. 15 Years ago, times were different. It was the first time I heard of Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia. This encyclopedia was bundled with every CD-i player. Like Nintendo bundled its console with Super Mario Bros, Philips chose to highlight the Multimedia spect of CD-i releasing Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia with it. Now say what you want, this was an excellent title. Back in 1991/1992, when this encyclopedia was released, there was no Digital Video Cartridge available, so the way they put everything on the disc was amazing to me. I was really fascinated by it and I was able to browse for hours through its contents. CD-i hooked me just because it was more than just games. I really wondered why the majority of people thought different about this ;)

However, 1995 was a great year for Philips Media and SPC Vision releasing the brilliant Philips Media Encyclopedia. Now this is a dutch title, released in Belgium as "Standaard Encyclopedia". But the engine is made so clever, with maximum use of digital video, this feels like the max they were able to get out of CD-i. The menu system was based on CD-i's dream technology: Seamless branching. Some CD-i developers will remember the trouble to get this right on CD-i, and this title was no different. The main menu was supposed to go in a seamless loop, but the engineers at Philips weren't able to get it right in the end!

Thankfully for people abroad, Compton's NewMedia also released a second version of Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia, much less known than the original from 1992. The new title was completely updated and was enhanced using the Digital Video Cartridge. If you ever see a copy, I can highly recommend it. Also, I was surprised to see they also released a version for Sega CD. Sega 'stole' more ideas from CD-i like implementing a "digital video cartridge" with the Saturn, to allow VideoCD playability. However, the release of Compton's Encyclopedia was a clever move, and with a wink to CD-i that games and reference can go hand in hand. Unfortunately, after the internet hyped after 1996, console versions of encyclopedias were over. Compton continued with a 1998 and 2000 version, after that they were included with Brittanica's Encyclopedia. They still offer a paper version of Compton's encyclopedia (version 2007), but at a price. You better track down a copy of the CD-i revised edition from 1995. Did you know this version sold initially for 100 dollars! That was pretty expensive for a 1-disc title, although it didn't top the price of the dutch Philips media encyclopedia: 175 dollars!

In Holland Philips offered to exchange your (old) paper encyclopedia books for the new Philips encyclopedia! This was one of the great times of Superclub, another story for next time!


Philips VCD Masterlist *update*

>> Monday, January 1, 2007

Starting this year, I'd like to pay more attention to CD-i titles other than games. Most importantly, Philips published over a 100 VCD titles, licensing titles from Paramount, MGM/UA, Orion and Live Entertainment to release a digital MPEG version for the first time ever.

CD-i member 'motley6':"Here is the Master List of Video Cd's released in the US from 1993-1996. I am not including children's titles or VCDs that don't have the Philips logo (i.e. documentaries like Icebound and movies like Cadillac Man and Force 10). Also included are the catalogue numbers."

1) 48 Hours - 31069-03252
2) The Accused - 310 690 3572
3) The Addams Family - 310-690-330-2
4) Addams Family Values - 310-690-326-2
5) Airplane - 31069-03272
6) An Officer & A Gentleman - 31069-03502
7) Andre - 310-690-341-2
9) Annie Hall - 310-690-422-2
10) ANOTHER 48 HOURS - 31069-03542
11) Apocalypse Now - 310-690-305-2
12) Baby Boom - 310-690-425-2
13) BASIC INSTINCT - 31069-05592
14) Benny & Joon - 310-690-420-2
15) Beverly Hills Cop - 310-690-313-2
16) BEVERLY HILLS COP II - 31069-03282
17) BILL & TED'S BOGUS JOURNEY - 31069-05052
18) Black Rain - 310-690-315-2
19) Black Stallion - 310-690-413-2
20) Bon Jovi: Keep the Faith - 310-690-294-2
21) BRADY BUNCH MOVIE - 31069-03582
22) Bryan Adams: Waking Up the Neighbours - 310-690-288-2
23) Bull Durham - 310-690-501-2
24) Carrie - 310-690-426-2
25) Chinatown -
26) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang - 310-690-410-2
28) Clear & Present Danger - 310-690-338-2
29) CLUELESS - 31069-03592
30) COMING TO AMERICA - 31069-03292
31) Coneheads - 310-690-320-2
32) CONGO - 31069-03562
33) CROCODILE DUNDEE - 31069-03552
34) CRYING GAME - 31069-05552
35) Dances With Wolves - 310-690-502-2
36) Diamonds are Forever - 310-690-421-2
37) Dirty Dancing -
38) Dr. No - 310-690-404-2
39) Eric Clapton: The Cream of Clapton - 310-690-292-2
40) FATAL ATTRACTION - 31069-03032
41) The Firm - 310-690-308-2 DV
42) FIRST BLOOD - 31069-05562
43) A Fish Called Wanda - 310-690-405-2
44) For Your Eyes Only - 310-690-419-2
45) Forrest Gump - 310-690-339-2
46) Four Weddings and a Funeral - 310-690-212-2
47) From Russia With Love - 310-690-403-2
48) GHOST - 31069-03222
49) Goldfinger - 310-690-407-2
50) Golf My Way (5 discs) - 310-690-048-2
51) The Hunt for Red October - 310-690-302-2
58) Indecent Proposal - 310-690-316-2
59) KALIFORNIA - 31069-02382
60) LA Story -
60) Last of the Mohicans -
61) Live and Let Die - 310-690-417-2
62) Married to the Mob - 310-690-503-2
63) Metropolis -
64) Mississippi Burning - 310-690-510-2
65) Moonraker - 310-690-411-2
67) Moonstruck - 310-690-401-2
68) The Naked Gun - 310-690-323-2
69) The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear - 310-690-312-2
70) The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult - 310-690-336-2
72) NFL's 100 Greatest Touchdowns - 310-690-053-2
73) NOBODY'S FOOL - 31069-03422
74) CDI - 310-690-416-2
75) Of Mice and Men - 310-690-423-2
76) On Golden Pond -
77) Overboard - 310-690-424-2
78) Patriot Games - 310-690-314-2
79) Pete Townshend: Live - 310-690-054-2
80) Peter Gabriel: All About Us - 310-690-148-2
81) The Pink Panther - 310-690-427-2
82) Planes, Trains and Automobiles - 310-690-317-2 DV
83) Posse - 310-690-254-2 DV
85) Quigley Down Under - 310-690-418-2
86) Raging Bull - 310-690-402-2
87) Rain Man - 310-690-408-2
88) RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART 2 - 31069-05572
89) RAMBO 3 - 31069-05582
90) Red Heat -
91) RESERVOIR DOGS - 31069-05542
92) Road House - 310-690-428-2
93) Robocop - 310-690-506-2
94) Robocop 2 - 310-690-507-2
95) ROBOCOP 3 - 31069-05082
96) Rocky - 310-690-412-2
97) The Secret of NIMH - 310-690-406-2
98) Silence of the Lambs - 310-690-509-2
99) Sliver - 310-690-309-2
100) Star Trek: The Motion Picture - 310-690-333-2
101) Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan - 310-690-310-2
102) Star Trek III: The Search for Spock - 310-690-334-2
103) Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home - 310-690-311-2
104) Star Trek V: The Final Frontier - 310-690-337-2
105) Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country - 310-690-304-2
106) STAR TREK GENERATIONS - 31069-03402
107) Sting: Ten Summoner's Tales - 310-690-287-2
108) Tennis Our Way (3 discs) - 310-690-052-2 DV
109) TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY - 31069-05532
110) TERMS OF ENDEARMENT - 31069-03512
111) Thelma and Louise - 310-690-414-2
112) Thunderball - 310-690-312-2
113) The Three Tenors - 310-690-164-2
114) Top Gun - 310-690-301-2 DV
115) TOTAL RECALL - 31069-05512
116) U2: RATTLE & HUM - 31069-03442
117) The Untouchables -
118) A View to a Kill - 310-690-409-2
119) Wayne's World - 310-690-318-2 DV
120) Wayne's World 2 - 310-690-332-2
121) Webber: The Premiere Collection - 310-690-297-2 DV
122) White Christmas - 310-690-306-2 DV
123) X-Men: Night of the Sentinels - 310-690-149-2
124) You Only Live Twice - 310-690-415-2

Maybe the next thing we should is to compile a review archive like I remember CD-i Magazine published about the picture and compressing quality! Now, along with the US releases, there are different European (PAL) titles published by Philips, but I don't have a total list so far:


A Fish Called Wanda
A View to a Kill
Addams Family Values
An Officer and a Gentleman
Annie Hall
Apocalypse Now
Baby Boom
Benny and Joon
Beverly Hills Cop
Beverly Hills Cop II
Beverly Hills Cop III
Black Rain
Blue Steel
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Clear and Present Danger
Coming to America
Crocodile Dundee 2
Dead Again
Diamonds are forever
Dr No
Drop Zone
Fatal Attraction
For your eyes only
Forrest Gump
From Russia with Love
FX: Murder by Illusion
FX 2
Indecent Proposal
Live and let die
Ninja Scroll
Of Mice and Men
Patriot Games
Pink Floyd: The Wall
Planes, Trains and Automobiles
Princess Bride
Quigley down under
Raging Bull
Rain Man
Star Trek - The Motion Picture
Star Trek 2 - The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek 3 - The search for Spock
Star Trek 4 - The Voyage Home
Star Trek 5 - The Final Frontier
Star Trek 6 - The undiscovered Country
Star Trek 7 - Generations
Terms of Endearment
The Accused
The Black Stallion
The Brady Bunch
The Firm
The Hunt for Red October
The Lawnmower man
The Naked Gun
The Naked Gun 2 1/5
The Naked Gun 33 1/3
The Pink Panther
The Princess Bride
The Secret of Nimh
The Untouchables
Thelma and Louise
Top Gun
Wayne's World
Wayne's World 2
Weekend at Bernie¹s
You only Live Twice
Young Guns
U2 Rattle and Hum

By no means complete, I would like to ask you all to add any titles that are not in the list above! Interesting title is Thumbelina, an original Warner Bros license on CD-i!


Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

  © Interactive Dreams Version 5 by The Black Moon Project 2013

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