>> Monday, December 17, 2007
Now that the Oldergames domain is handed over to the Super Fighter Team, another CD-i era is over which has boosted CD-i attention a lot since 2002. Interactive Dreams takes a look at what Oldergames brought to the CD-i scene. It all started in 2001 when the CD-i scene was owned by The Black Moon Project and CD-i Heaven, Pete Dabbs was busy coding his CD-Ice emulator which eventually never made it happen (Try the new CD-i emulator instead!). Robin Bivins announced that they bought a PC-CD-i development set including a basket of discs and prototypes. Bivins announced to the CD-i scene they were planning to release five games: Plunderball, Jack Sprite: The Crimson Ghost, Go, Space Ranger and Super Mario's Wacky Worlds (SMWW).
Bivins speculated to make a special release of SMWW, but eventually he backed out probably realizing the legal issues. The other games were not trademarked and the developers didn't exist anymore. So these are the only unreleased games which are 'released', although it's been done with just a 'pat on the back', according Bivins. You could guess that Philips would never approve the use of its name on the covers, but in a retro perspective it's a nice touch. They probably just don't care anyway. But it's in no way an 'official release', which makes these games a little obscure. Bivins ensured at the time that the discs were not able to be copied, but in a long thread at Digital Press some fanatic members succeeded anyway after some time. Thanks to them, I was able to play these games.
So, Bivins started a little the hype of Super Mario's Wacky Worlds. There were more valid prototypes, apparently, and I think Spoonman brought the info to the public. We all know SMWW as the most well-known CD-i prototype with high potential, coded by Novalogic. It's all in the pipeline to cover that game here.
Unfortunately, with Super Fighter Team taking over the place, there's no chance of getting new CD-i games of them. Brandon Cobb, the man behind Super Fighter Team, explains: "As of December 14, 2007, the OlderGames name and internet domain (www.oldergames.com) have been acquired by Super Fighter Team. At this time, we have no interest to produce games for CD-based systems; we intend to continue our focus on cartridge-based games. The plan to port Super Fighter to CD-i was cancelled several years ago. At the time (2001?), OlderGames was interested in licensing Super Fighter and paying to produce and publish it for several CD-based consoles including CD-i. Obviously it didn't happen."
This is one of the favorites of Devin and after some hours of playtime I have to agree it's a very clever game. It has a little in common with Breaker, where you shoot the ball through the level. As in Jack Sprite, you're starring in a movie tie-in and you see video scenes of the story all over the game. Plunderball is basically a Pinball game but enhanced with a story mode it translates the pinball boards into space where your ball is a ship flying through space.Lots of bonus places, it's as varying as Pinball can get and I really like the story and how they implemented this with Pinball. Converting two totally different genres into a videogame always makes for a popular game, like in Puzzle Quest recently. From the booklet: "Real Life Space Drama, Pinball Style. The story begins with the kidnapping of a space princess and moves on from there as you hit certain objects on the pinball field."
Jack Sprite: The Crimson Ghost
Out of the four games that Oldergames released on CD-i, in my opinion Jack Sprite is the best. Along with Plunderball, this one is a 'big' game and it's very complete (considering the prototype status). This game was coded by PF Magic, who also brought Max Magic to CD-i. Basically you're watching the movie about the Crimson Ghost with Jack, and from time to time Jack feels the need to help the movie characters. When you agree, push the button and jack will jump into the screen. Some kind of minigame is started and you'll either fight against the bad guys of the movie or you race like in Micro Machines against an opponent, depending on what kind of movie scene you were watching. The racing scene has still some bugs in it, with hang-ups and some visual bugs in it. From the booklet: "Hey Jack! It's Time To Save The World! Perhaps the first game of it's kind ever - Jack Sprite vs The Crimson Ghost is a truly unique blend of FMV U-Direct type play with a twist of Platform Fighting Action! Designed and concieved by Night Trap Creator Mr. Rob Fulop, Jack Sprite is one game that deserves a place in game history. In this game you take on the role of Jack, an inventor who created a piece of machinery that will allow you to teleport into classic Republican Pictures "Crimson Ghost" movies and save the world from the evil hands of the one and only fiend himself!"
Actually this is not really a prototype game but it has been released before as a regional release in Italy. This one is called Go: Special Edition and may be on the agenda of Philips to get a full release instead of a regional one, just like how Shaolin's Road two years after its initial release got a full release as well. The full release of Go didn't see the light of day so in the end this showed up in the basket of Oldergames. It's a very simple board game of Othello, nothing more and nothing less. From the booklet: "Welcome to the game of GO! A game of War, Wits, Wisdom and Strategy. GO has deep roots beginning in Asia many hundreds of years ago. Much older and sophisticated than Othello which was modeled on the principles of GO. This game is nowhere near short of a loyal following with tournaments just about any time and clubs just about anywhere in the world today."
Space Ranger has a lot of potential but in the current state it's a rather worthless game. It only shows you what ISG was able to get right on CD-i, some kind of shooter like Steel Machine. In this demo, there are no enemies or anything interesting so you're done with it real fast. It could have been a nice shooter if Philips had the money to invest in these CD-i projects a little earlier. From the booklet: "This game plays one level only and is not complete by any means whatsoever. This is an Alpha Stage CD-i game and contains bugs. This title is for the TRUE CD-i Collector!"