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Surf City: CD-i Review

>> Monday, February 12, 2007

Philips Sidewalk Studios were known as the main developers for "Family Entertainment", the counterpart of "Philips Media Games". While both departments were aimed at delivering home CD-i titles, Family Entertainment mainly developed titles for the younger audience. Sidewalk Studios is known for great children games like "The Crayon Factory", "Sandy's Circus Adventure" and "Richard Scarry's Best/Busiest Neighbourhood Disc Ever". However, sometimes an actual game not specifically aimed at children was written by the creative eyes of Gary Drucker and Rebecca Newman, heading one of the most productive Philips development houses at the time of CD-i.

Developer: Philips Sidewalk Studios
Publisher: Philips Media (Family Entertainment; USA)
Release: 1994
Genre: Interactive Musical
Review date: February 2007
Required: -
Recommended: Mouse/Trackball/Roller Controller
Extra: no multiplayer, age rating: >7

"It's the class of '66. To one of the coolest guys at Surf. Hi - I'll always remember that groovy beach party. Great Tunes. Love, Sandy."

So Sidewalk wasn't purely aimed at children titles. For example, take "Merlin's Apprentice", a game originally developed by Philips Sidewalk Studios, but transferred to Philips Funhouse because it was not in line with Sidewalk's other games. This transfer marked the start of Funhouse being some kind of Sidewalk spin-off creating games with the same animation techniques.

"Hey Homeroom Buddy - How will you survice without Miss Z's pop quizzes? have fun in the sun... -Willies"

But also "Wacky Worlds of Miniature Golf" is a game by Sidewalk Studios not aimed directly at children, although it does appeal to all ages. No, this time I want to talk about "Surf City". Surf City is known as Sidewalk's biggest projects, being in development for a long time. Something that crossed the oath of Sidewalk's vision: The tight structure only allowed small budget titles: It's not for nothing they were able to produce 14 (fourteen!) CD-i titles in just a few years. That marks Sidewalk without a doubt as the most productive Philips Software Unit during the life of CD-i.

"To a cool guy - See ya'Round this summer. HANGTEN, DUDE! -BUZZ"

I'm drifting away from the original subject: The Surf City review. What's this title about? According to the obscurity it has and the fact not a lot of people has played this disc, I assume Surf City is pretty rare to come by nowadays. What we have here is quite an original title: An interactive Musical. I never enjoyed Surf City for the actual games, but for the whole experience. The sound intro is by far the best of all CD-i intros I've seen. The Beach Boys tune takes over the original Philips tune to create the same effect as in a movie; a way I pictured a more clever intro for a lot of other titles. Talking about the games, you can for the most compare this with the Richard Scarry busiest neighbourhood disc. It's made by the same people, and it is obviously inspired by this title. The whole thing is the same, there is an overmap of the main city and you can click the streets. A scene follows in where the streets scrolls by, and you click on any building you want to visit. Inside, you can click on different things, talk to people and call for help. Or exit, and visit a different place. Really, that's it.

"To my good pal - Drama was a blast! See ya next year. -Chip"

Still, you can do the most with these 'games' in the whole title. Surf City is inspired by the great music of the 60s. It is the first animated interactive musical in its own right. Classic hits help tell the story of Ryan Carlson, Wendy Weaver, Rhonda Williams and their friends with favourites like California Girls, Dance Dance Dance and Wipeout. The games, I'd prefer to call them 'activities'. Read the names: Build a hot rod; Go bowling at the Beach Bowl; Design a surfboard; Play the video jukebox; Race cars at the arcade speedway; take a pizza order; learn surf lingo from Tiki; Visit the love teller; Take a pop quiz at the high school; watch fireworks on the pier; Order a burger-to-go; Play spin-the-bottle at wendy's house.

In fact it's a very interesting genre, and I compare it slightly with the "Animal Crossing" thing: Some will love it, some will hate it. It sets an atmosphere and you just want to visit it for once in a while. It's addicting, and Surf City will make you return because of the great music, the holiday feeling and nothing more. Why do kids never get bored of Richard Scarry or Sesame Street? It's the same kind of thing, only Surf City is aimed at a wider (older) public. You won't play Surf City just for the games, I think. Ofcourse, they add a feeling that the city is alive, in the end you just wander around to see what's happening in Surf City.

End comments:
Surf City is a unique title, it's a genre that is lost these days just like the FMV game genre. There's not a lot of action, and it's even hard to call this a game. Really, the term "Interactive Musical" describes its ambition the most.

Graphics: 6
If you've played the other Sidewalk games, you'll recognize the style. Simple, cartoon style. It's the brand of Sidewalk, really. Nice animation, obviously they put a lot of work in this project.

Sound: 9
Outstanding. Musical score by the Beach Boys, this is one of the best bits of Surf City. If it wasn't for the soundtrack, the title wasn't worth even half of it.

Playability: 6
Sidewalk keeps their games simple, and it shows. None of the games are deep or difficult, but the whole system adds a living touch to Surf City.

Value: 7
Nice to spend some time with once in a while, but you won't play this title for many hours. It's the ultimate title to showcase CD-i base case to any Beach Boys fans and non-gamers on CD-i. I love it, but I can understand why lots of people don't get the point.

Overall: 7 (not an average)

Similar games on CD-i:

Richard Scarry's Busiest Neighbourhood Disc, Sesame Street Letters+Numbers

6 reacties:

Phil February 13, 2007 at 11:52 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corey,  February 14, 2007 at 4:57 AM  

Dude great review !!!

I actually would love to play this. I hope I can find it somewhere.

Let me just say that your reviews of these titles is really appreciated.

I mean most gaming sites and even phillips cd-i specific sites you'd just see mention of the zelda and mario titles being mediocre.

Then there's the occasional slight praise of burn cycle, voyeur and the apprentice. But, thats about it.

So once again thank you.
This title looks really interesting I hope I'll be able to find it.

Bas February 14, 2007 at 9:09 AM  

thanks corey for the nice words! It's all my pleasure, I purely started this site to express my love for the system. It's true most gaming sites only spend some attention to the Nintendo licensed games, and they don't even like them. That's a shame, because I'm confident also these titles are full of quality and fun, as long as you're taking off the Nintendo glasses.

If you're looking for information about a certain title on CD-i, drop me a line and I'll try to post everything i know. I've played almost every game on CD-i thoroughly....

Thanks Corey for visiting.

Andrew,  January 8, 2009 at 11:23 AM  

It was hard to find anything about Surf City until I saw this, thanks!

T Armstrong October 20, 2010 at 2:23 AM  

I used to play this game when I was about 7/8. Kept me amused for hours. Mainly because of the fact it had bowling as one of the games. I'm surprised this game is hardly mentioned anywhere, considering how popular bowling is on the wii now. Sadly I sold my cdi years back. (I'm now 22 and really regret it.) Had a stack of games with it including mad dog mccree and the gun and I got very little for it at the time. If I managed to buy one again, surf city would be the first game I'd look for - it even got me into the beach boys! Good memories with that game. Highly recommend it. :)

krcc March 6, 2016 at 10:00 AM  

Interactive musical, i like that :), was looking for a way to describe this game.

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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

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