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CD-i Player Compatibility Issues: Can you update the firmware?

>> Saturday, June 23, 2007

Doing all the updates for the Black Moon Games Archive with a portable Philips CD-i 370 Player made me realise how many bugs are present between players! I've never noticed these on a basic 210 model and they only seem to be apparent on the 370. For example the introduction sequences to Master Labyrinth which uses Digital Video has two jagged green lines across the bottom of the screen whilst playing. I assumed it may have been the disc so made a copy and the same thing happened. Played it on my 210, no problem. Might be an idea to list these issues between player models for reference.

There are more games having compatibility problems with different CD-i Players. An example is the story about how often 'The Lost Ride' crashes on a certain player, this appears to vary on different models as well!! The first batch of 'The 7th Guest' has a play-back issue on the 4xx and 5xx series of cd-i players. Newer versions were pressed in video-cd jewel cases. Lost Eden has a bug on the early versions on 2xx series of cd-i players (you recognize these with 'compact disc interactive' on the bottom of the box-art instead of 'digital video on cd-i' (second batch). Pac-Panic has a big play-back issue after playing cd-ready formats. Try to play a cd-ready disc and play Pac-Panic after it without resetting (=turning off) the player.

cdifan: "Several early titles had problems on second-generation players, as these used a different memory layout. Quite a lot of titles had problems on the so-called "Mono-II" players (210/20 and 220/40) because there where some nasty bugs in the CD drivers of these players. The 450 players had similar problems in the CD drive mechanism. Some of this is in the "player release notes" that Philips sometimes supplied to CD-i developers, but the rest is from hard experience in getting CD-i titles to run on all players. This was often the most painful part of developing a CD-i title, as there were a number of obscure driver bugs in the various players. Many of the newer titles in fact ship with replacement drivers for some player models..."

I've noticed drivers on some of the later releases such as Creature Shock and Atlantis - The Last Resort. I wonder if this firmware update has ever gone wrong and destroyed a CD-i player? It replaces the driver in memory, and not in the ROM. The CDi's ROMs were, well, ROMs, and not flash, so they couldn't be updated. cdifan: "You can see the driver files on the cd with IsoBuster. They are just plain data files that start with the OS9 module signature 4AFC; if you extract them from the disc you can use the "ident" program (comes with the Microware C compiler) to get a list of the modules in them. If these have module type "driver" you've found a driver! A while ago I've catalogued all the driver versions that I could find on my CD-i discs, and it was quite a collection: for some players there where several different driver updates. The replacement drivers, like the originals, are all hardware-specific and were written by Philips and/or their contractors. Philips delivered these to CD-i developers with sample source code for player model detection and driver installation, usually based on module CRC values known to be unique across the entire player base."

"Most CD-i players have no ROM-update mechanism as far as I know, although I believe some of the later 6xx models have a feature to run a "patch" from NVRAM, however. But it would be possible to run an "update" disc just before starting the game, that would keep the updated drivers in RAM. However, this supposes that you know *how* to make the player compatible with the game. Blindly replacing drivers is unlikely to help; some knowledge of the source of the incompatibility is needed. In many cases this would require debugging and involvement of the game and/or player developers..."

Question: If you download a ROM using the null-modem cable, and you replace certain drivers from (newer) cd-i titles, will your ROM (emulator) be likely to play more cd-i titles...(be more compatible)? cdifan: "Theoretically: yes, but in practice... I know from direct experience and some rumours that in some cases there is no "best" driver for a particular player; the various versions may have different bugs fixed and some titles may work around some bugs, but not others. Not all of the drivers are suitable for direct ROM replacement; in some cases a special installation procedure is also needed. So it's a complex issue. Technically it might be possible to replace the shell (it is supposedly just a built-in CD-i application) but it would be considerably more involved then just "replacing" the ROMs:

1. You would need to build a ROM image with the old drivers but a new shell (an exercise in OS-9 module extraction and concatenation).

2. The ROM image needs to be burned into actual ROMs (not very hard if you have the equipment, but how many people do?).

3. The ROMs need to be physically replaced on the CD-i mainboard. This probably means desoldering the old ones first, unless you use "piggyback" tricks (putting one on top of the other and disabling the old ones by cutting the "select" pins).

And there may be version dependencies in the shell program as well... If you really want to do this I would heartily recommend testing the ROM image with CD-i Emulator first!


Thanks to cdifan (the author of CD-i Emulator), Pictures by Freetime Web Electronics and ICDIA.

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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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