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CD-i Bits (News about CD-i Emulator)

Oldergames plans new videogames database, including CD-i

>> Saturday, March 31, 2007

At first I wasn't really excited about the latest news: "Oldergames is expanding its forces with Knurdz.com", but after some digging the idea of a complete videogames database sounds very attractive. The reason why I'm sceptic is because we've seen it before with websites like Digital Press and VideogamesBible, but these databases aren't anything that fills its promise: To create a 100% complete videogames database. Sadly, these databases are lacking any in-depth info and are far from complete, but who knows Dr. Bivins will change history with Knurdz. Ofcourse, I was interested in any new potential for CD-i that might attract the CD-i homebrew scene, so that's why CD-i developers should take note of any actions Oldergames promises :)

"The Interactive Community" knows Oldergames from the 2002 releases of four CD-i prototype games, including the excellent Jack Sprite: The Crimson Ghost and Plunderball (Devin's favourite CD-i game ;) )

"With three releases coming to CGE 2007, the re-launch of our site, the pending launch of the KNURDZ.COM gaming infobase and a few game stores opening we are beginning to feel like this is starting to take form... All this time we have spent developing, building, testing, and making deals will be of benefit to all of us. We are thankful for everything the community has given us and the support people have shown for our efforts. This year marks our 5th anniversary since the launch of OlderGames.com [with four CD-i releases, ed.] and we have a special surprise in store for all of you as a gift from our company to you! We will be announcing more soon, but until then... thank you for coming over and stopping by our new site! :)"

I didn't even realize people had noticed our "other" project yet. But I do want to clarify it is not based on VGB but incorporates VGB's library and has absorbed it's entire archive as just a small part of it's massive infobase. It will cover everything. Part of the CD-i stuff is what I was wanting to chat with Devin about. Think of KNURDZ.COM as our homebase for all of our operations and OlderGames.com will be under the KNURDZ label but will be expanded quite a bit in the near future. There is a lot to look forward to but I can't say much at this time other than what has already been said and that we have been working on it for several years with a decent sized team.

This means, nothing to be excited about right now but who knows what Oldergames will bring, if it goes nearly like the CD-i launching party of Oldergames in 2002 this is going to be great!

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The CD-Online video preview of Dead End CD-i

>> Friday, March 30, 2007

Videos always say more than a thousand words, and I can imagine after the promising article from last monday you would like to see it in motion. Philips demonstrated a video at their CD-Online service in 1996. The browser disc of Lost Boys included video material of several CD-i titles, including a preview of Cryo's Dead End. Thanks to CD-i member oaacdi who made it available for download right here:

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Philips CD-i Tosec Files

>> Thursday, March 29, 2007

Quite extraordinary, Philips CD-i has been added to the Tosec Files Database! Never knew that! For those that don't know, Tosec is basically a list or database that attempts to list all files/roms/bios/isos ever released to the public through the internet for home computers and consoles. The games section seems to be an almost complete list with a few omissions and it's worth noting the BIOS section is certainly lacking. Perhaps testamount to how responsible most are in the CD-i community as they only seem to have the ever accessable 910 along with a 490 and 200 BIOS. Given the numerous ROMS and easy amateur availability thanks to CD-i Fans tools it's quite surprising more BIOS haven't been leaked! Still it's kinda cool that people in the broader emulation arena are taking notes. Not to keen on the ISO RIPS however!

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Why do the professional CD-i players come with a 3.5" floppy drive

>> Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Click on the thumbnail of the CD-i 615 pictured on the top-right of this article. Yes, you'll notice a 3,5" disc drive. Most professional CD-i players have a built-in floppy drive. Why? cdifan: "I think the floppy drives where used mostly for verification tests and quick program tests. You could also use them for getting screenshots etc. off the CD-i (provided your program could generate them, of course). I remember often using the floppy for preloading a RAM disk (on the 605 you can make these so they survive a reset) with basic OS9 system utilities like dir, copy, list..." "we used them for tests. But basically, those were OS9 system floppies, it looked and felt a bit like MSDOS. So you could do i.e. file operations on a command line, just like DOS", according to a former CD-i tester..

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Dead End CD-i

>> Monday, March 26, 2007

When people saw the rolling demo of this game for the first time in 1995, Dead End shot up to the top on many people’s wish-list for CD-i. A driving game based on MPEG footage of a futuristic city, combined with intense shooting made for a mouthwatering prospect. Finally CD-i would have a game to go alongside with the graphic speldour or Playstation’s Ridge Racer. So understandably it was a big disappointment when the game was ultimately cancelled.

The demo many people saw was actually quite different from what the project was originally planned to be: an actual racing game based on MPEG footage, where the driver would actually be able to accelerate and brake. This was made possible by a revolutionary technique called ‘Continuously variable MPEG video frame rates’ developed by Philips Media Los Angeles’ software engineers. What this technique basically did was to slow down and speed up the video stream the CD-i player would play, based on the player’s commands (accelerating and braking). The MPEG stream was the pre-rendered streets the player would be racing on. The fact that the graphics would be pre-rendered (just like Chaos Control or Solar Crusade for example) would guarantee spectacular graphics for this racing game, probably even better than Ridge Racer, since the Playstation game would rely on real-time rendering of the graphics.

Cryo Interactive worked closely with Philips Media to incorporate this technique, but in the end decided it would be a lot easier to have the MPEG video play at a fixed rate instead, since they were having difficulties incorporating the ‘Continuously variable MPEG video frame rate’s. It would take away the racing part of the game, so they decided to name it a ‘driving game instead of a ‘racing game’. Of course it’s not much fun to merely have to drive around streets dodging cars and objects, so that’s probably when Cryo thought of mounting a gun on the top of the car to make at a driving / shooting game. This final specification was then developed into the game which was first demo’ed at E3 in 1995 (in a playable form) and in this rolling demo (april 1995).

At present no reasons are known for the cancellation of Dead End. Speculations range from the came being too difficult to develop, too expensive to finish or a lack of worldwide CD-i sales which made the project commercially less attractive.

A spokeperson about Dead End: "Dead End is a game I got involved with from the very beginning, when Philips Media was still going strong, and again it was going to be based on another technique I invented: "Continuously variable MPEG video frame rates" (a subtle variation around seamless branching, at the frame level). It was not going to be implemented directly by Philips though, and I only served as a consultant to the company that owned the project. Believe the project went through several restarts because of technical difficulties in the implementation (engineers were having problem grasping the technical concept of fooling the MPEG decoder into playing video at unusual frame rates), and the last version I saw had been scaled down quite a bit: it was playing the video at a fixed rate, which kind of defeats the purpose of a racing game. I remember seeing some really cool MPEG footage of Highway 1 from Malibu to Santa Monica, created by a production studio in Paris (France) for this game, and it looked great on CD-i. I believe there was also an arcade version of Dead End under production by that same company, with dedicated hardware for accelerating/decelerating the MPEG video playback rate, but I never saw it finished either."

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The Evoluon: Home of CD-i Novelties

>> Sunday, March 25, 2007

To celebrate the 75th birthday of the Philips company in Eindhoven in 1966, a special exhibit on science and technology was opened in the Evoluon, a futuristic building looking like a flying saucer that has just landed. It was built for this purpose on a piece of land at a prime location, a triangular terrain at the crossing of three main roads, donated by the city of Eindhoven. The Evoluon was an idea of Frits Philips himself, a very idealistic man who wanted to give the people a beautiful and educational gift to celebrate the birthday of the company that bears his name. Earlier Philips had been present with big and beautiful exhibits at world expos, but later it was decided to stop doing this and use the money for a permanent building. At first the plans were to only exhibit Philips products, but later the net was widened.

Every year about half a million people visited the Evoluon. But in 1989 the exhibit was closed because of a declining number of visitors. At that time the buildings surrounding the dome were adapted and expanded so that the complex could be used as a conference centre. From 1993 to 1998 there was a big exhibit in the building, but it was focused only on Philips products. Only people who were invited could visit it. Those were business relations of Philips, but also schools and other organisations.

In 1994 a large building was put up in front of the evoluon that has an auditorium and movie theatre that can hold 440 persons. Today the Evoluon building complex is used as a high class business conference centre. It is still busy in there, but there is nothing to see for the general public anymore.

The Evoluon was the place of a CD-i exhibition every year. The president of Philips Media Games was here to show the latest games and novelties, prototypes and everything new CD-i had to offer. Also in 1995, Lost Boys Interactive produced a promotional CD-i about the Evoluon. The 'Evoluon Souvenir' is a promotional disc for the Philips Competence Center. The user can 'walk' through the Philips Competence Center, which is beautifully modelled in full moving 3D animations. I think this disc is one offers one of the best graphics I've ever seen on the system, and fortunately CD-i member Erronous retrieved the video of this rare CD-i disc.

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A little help repairing the CD-i controller

Thanks to Dauphinais Richard from Gametronik we will start with the english version of the repair guide: Tutorials about how to repair broken CD-i parts, including peripherals and hardware like the Timekeeper battery. In 2005 Richard started to write a guide which was the source of Terratron's Timekeeper battery article, which is unfortunately not available at this time of writing. However, by high demanding, on request, Interactive Dreams takes the time to bring you some tutorials. The first part is about the Touchpad.
Here you can find the starting thread from the author.
Here you can download the original French Guide (our reference).


The 22ER9017 CD-i Touchpad is often seen as the best joystick designed for CD-i, thanks to the ergonomic design and the 4-button lay-out which is a must for certain games. Unfortunately, due to the excessive length of the cable, it suffers from a small common defect: In the connector the wires are located in a tiny shell which is rather long and small and it's not very easy to repair this part. It's far more easy to replace the whole connector. The location of the wires resembles the typical industry standard: It's a regular type of connector.


This guide shows a connector of a keyboard of a PC which is identically. First: It is necessary to cut away the gray cable to short-nap the plastic moulding, if you heat the mauve part it makes it more malleable. In this way you can withdraw the gray moulding. Now you can turn the moulding around the metal part (see pictures). After withdrawing the round metal plate (it indicates the position of the connector in the CD-i), you will need to insert the wire in the visible slit of the plate and to draw aside it.

The inserted wire needs to be solidified before you can draw back the moulding. Seperate the wires delicately to avoid tearing off the pine connector. Use scissors to withdraw this adhesive but you will need the half compartment to precisely place the wires and prevent the wires get away from the pines.

You need to cross off 5mm of the wire naked from the back connector. Short-nap the clothing of the metal connector using the scissors and then put a little power on it to turn. Insert the cable in the moulding for about 2 or 3 cm. Take a look at the pictures to be sure you don't mistake the directions.

Now put back the metal ring to its initial place and the clothing of the connector: Heat the moulding again and tighten it. Your new connector is ready to use!

The other side of the cable is attached to the Touchpad itself. In the picture you see the electronic elements specific to the Philips Touchpad. Notice the elements where the cable is connected to the lever. Clean the areas around the lever to avoid any oxide trace which could harm the operation of the lever. This also counts for the rubber as illustrated.

Please note we need to review the guides to see how effective they are, obviously the pictures speak for itself but I can imagine you still have a lot of questions once you start to repair this type. Post away your comments and questions so we can all learn something from it, and we'll update the repair guide to get the tutorial section on Interactive Dreams the best there is.

Thanks to: Gametronik

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CD-i Ready Lets Go

>> Saturday, March 24, 2007

CD-i discs aren't copy protected and you're not the first one who want to burn an image of their CD-i game to try with the CD-i emulator. Unfortunately, the Green Book has a few obscure formats, like CD-i Ready. CD-i Ready is a compact disc format based on the CD-i format. CD-i format and CD-i Ready format use different techniques to get audio CD players to skip over the CD-i software and data. CD-i Ready places the software and data in the pregap of Track 1. Standard CD-i format places the software and data into ordinary tracks, but omits the tracks from the table of contents. In this way SPC Vision was able to press the music trakcs of their videogames as an audio CD on the same CD-i. In an audio CD player, the music would be played just as a normal audio CD. In a CD-i player, the game would start. Excellent idea! The only downside now is these discs are very hard to copy.

Not working? The only thing to think of is to try another computer and CD-ROM drive if you have access to other PC tech. Then you might find a drive that works. If you're using Windows 98 it might be worth inserting, ejecting and inserting the CD again! On the first run the CD is recognised as an AudioCD then after you eject/insert it doesn't. Crazy I know!Most CD-i Ready discs can be copied using CloneCD. Sometimes small errors still occur, but I've never had a non-working copy from CloneCD. Though the problem is whether your CD/DVD drive is capable of reading CD-i Ready discs correctly. If your drive can't handle the discs, even CloneCD will fail.

Known CD-i ready discs are:

-A Christmas Songbook
-Accelerator
-Alien Gate
-Beyond Limits
-Escape
-Lucky Luke
-Louis Armstrong
-Dark Fables of Aesop
-More Dark Fables of Aesop
-Mozart
-Opera Imaginaire
-Pavarotti
-Steel Machine
-The Apprentice
-Dimo's Quest
-The Worlds of...

On this special type of CD-i the CD-i data track is stored in pause sectors preceeding track 1. That way it's possible to play a CD-i (containing both audio and data) either in a CD audio or a CD-i player. In fact that most burning tools investigate the content of a CD by using the TOC (Table of Contents), they won't recognize the hidden data track. Get a trial version of CloneCD here: http://www.slysoft.com
Also, if you know more CD-i Ready discs, please post them below!

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CD-i of the Tiger: 1up.com evaluates

>> Friday, March 23, 2007

2006 marks the anniversary of an important event in gaming history. One that changed the face of games forever and spawned a brand name that remains recognizable to this day. This milestone proved to be of particular significance to Nintendo, which might well have turned out to be a completely different company than the one we know today were it not for this -- a landmark development that shook the videogame industry to its core. This year is, of course, the 15th anniversary of the Philips CD-i game console. Interactive Dreams reviews the 1up critics.

As some of you already know, the popular gaming website 1up.com published a big article about CD-i in April 2006. We revisit the most important hits and misses summed up from 1up's massive six page article.

Nintendo: The story behind the Philips CD-i actually begins with Nintendo. Back in 1988, Nintendo struck a deal with Sony to manufacture the sound chip for the then-upcoming Super Nintendo Entertainment System. [...] Unfortunately 1up.com follows the same mistakes known from the Philips-Nintendo link!

Compact Disc.......Interactive!: Like many consoles, the CD-i saw a number of wildly different controller accessories released during its lifetime. The console was originally packaged with a thumbstick controller that more closely resembled a TV remote than a gaming peripheral. The following years saw the release of several trackball and mouse-style controllers, all of which were practically useless for most games but worked very well with the system's library of educational software. It wasn't until the CD-i's relaunch as a gaming console that Philips released more conventional controllers -- ones that had actual D-pads and everything! Still, not everyone considers the CD-i's original thumbstick controller an evolutionary dead-end for gaming peripherals....compare it with the Wii remote!

Eat that, San Andreas: It's amazing that this game never generated the controversy that other, milder titles received. Voyeur's spoken dialogue is peppered with multiple uses of the dreaded F-word, long before it became the cool thing to do in today's urban-shooter du jour. The amount of sexual content will shock modern gamers as well; though there's no actual onscreen sex or nudity, there's plenty of innuendo, along with strong pervading themes of lesbianism and incest. Odds are, you'll witness a few mild bondage scenes before the game is over, too. They are right about that!

Welcome to hell: That title just kind of strikes the fear into you, doesn't it? Yes, comedian Eugene Levy voices his own videogame in this, his most obnoxious role of all time. Imagine a golf game in which you can only shoot your ball straight forward, slightly to the left, or slightly to the right. Your swing power is fixed -- as is every other option in the game. This is The Wacky World of Miniature Golf, a title that -- at last! -- successfully combines the unresponsive controls and eye-searing visuals of the CD-i's worst edutainment titles with the star power of Cheaper by the Dozen 2 and American Wedding. - Oops, and it's amazing how fast we forget...

Unreleased wackiness: Though only four Nintendo-licensed games were released for the CD-i, at least two more were in development before getting scrapped. One, Super Mario's Wacky Worlds, was a traditional side-scrolling platformer that used graphics and music ripped directly from the SNES launch title Super Mario World. A prototype version of Super Mario's Wacky Worlds was found and distributed across the Internet a few years ago, and CD-i fans were astounded by the game's quality, even at such an early stage of development. The prototype's buggy, and only a few levels are selectable, but the game looks, sounds, and plays so well that it could easily have become one of the best titles ever released for the CD-i had the project been completed. - And how much would we love to see "Mario Takes America" in action!

Source: 1up.com

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Super Mario's Wacky Worlds (CD-i) versus Super Mario World (SNES)

>> Thursday, March 22, 2007

John Szczepaniak from Retrogamer Magazine was responsible for the excellent Super Mario's wacky Worlds article, written in early 2006. It's a really smart article and probably the most accurate that has ever been published in commercial press to date. John is also an active forum member and it's interesting to capture some thoughts from what he said about this game.

"I'm not saying it would have been better than SMW on the SNES (I'm not that crazy!). But looking at the design ideas, reading what the designers have said, and playing the beta, it seemed like it would have become a fairly good platformer and at best, a really good clone of SMW.

There are an additional 3 or 4 interviews alongside that main article [available at The Black Moon Project, ed.]. Worth reading. The jumping physics for a start were identical, they said they'd put a lot of time in replicating the control method, which considering this was a CD-i, is very impressive! The control mechanism for the hardware was sloppy, and there was a timing delay which needed working around (something to do with the machine always trying to center a non-existent mouse pointer).

Plus, they used a SMW guidebook with maps for all the levels. I'm not saying it's right, but they did say they were going to use some of the best design elements from it, at least those that worked on the hardware. I also commend them for achieveing what they did technically. There was no tile system, or sprite scrolling system built into the hardware, and it required a lot of hardwork to get anything out of the system.

The beta also showed some clever ideas they were implementing.

* They were putting the CD media to good use, by increasing the art assets etc. For example, in each level, the turtle enemies were dressed differently. In the Ancient Greek stage, they wore togas, in the Roman levels, they were dressed as Centurians, in the Haunted Castle levels, they were dressed like Dracula, in the Ice stages, they were dressed like Eskimos.

It may not have been a huge idea, but they were putting the effort in, and despite the head company using the project as a cash cow to milk money out of Philips (long saga there!), the actual team struggled on with nearly no resources and really tried. I mean, it may not have been the best game ever if completed, but it's nice to see them actually putting some love into their work, rather than wanting to rush out any old crap.

* There were some clever design elements. Like when you enter the giant Igloo, it's a maze inside, with two exits out of the level. Meaning there would have been some kind of branching level structure. Although the exits didn't yet work, and the enemies couldn't hurt you, I had fun exploring the Igloo :)

* Another stage, you wandered through ancient Greek ruins, before coming to a Trojan horse, you enter through the mouth and make your way through some compartments, before ending up leaving through the leg and reaching the exit. It wasn't just a straight run across flat ground, and there was some satisfaction to be had.

* It did a good job of conveying a Mario theme throughout, like finding a Sphinx with the head of a turtle, etc. And pipes, all over the place.

* There was some outstanding rippling and mirror effects done for areas that had water. It looks very impressive in motion.

* Character graphics, animation, and music were copied directly, so you can't really fault them.

I mean, it never would have been as good as Nintendo's original Mario series, purely because of the hardware limitations, but they were trying their best to at least not make it crap. Looking at the beta, you get the feeling that had it been completed, it indeed would have been the best game on the system, and even if it annoyed ardent Nintendo fans, there would have been merit in playing it.

Remember, those screens are from a version that only had 30% of programming and 80% of art complete. I still think it had potential to be a fun title on a system that only had a handful of games worth playing.

The [available screenshots] are very poor, and [in] low resolution. In fact, they're abysmal! No wonder you guys think the game is crappy! The graphics up close on a TV screen are awesome. Just have a look at the haunted ship levels. There is a beautiful background going on when you see it on a proper screen."


With due thanks to John Szczepaniak for bringing this obscurity to the attention of the retrogaming community through his article and continued support of CD-i. The original story as published through Black Moon can be found in the CD-i Articles & Interviews section entitled The Lost CD-i Mario Game.

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Krisalis

>> Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Krisalis Software Ltd was responsible for the 1997 release of "Ultra CD-i Soccer". Without any announcement it looked like a strange release on CD-i, but after a few contacts there was more behind the horizon. Krisalis was the brain behind some important cross-platform developments of Philips Media, including a port of Chaos Control for Sega Saturn and even Sony Playstation. We follow an interesting history of Krisalis.

Krisalis Software have been producers of successful computer & console games started 20 years ago. Based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England, the company began life in 1987 as Teque Software, formed by Tony Kavanagh and two experienced games programmers, Peter Harrap (creator of the famous Monty Mole) and Shaun Hollingworth. All three had been previously employed by the same company, and with the advent of the blossoming 16 bit market they saw a golden opportunity to 'go it alone'.

The first projects, completed with just a few new recruits, were a mix of original projects (Terramex, Flintstones, Thunderbirds) and conversions of arcade titles (Pacmania, Xybots, Continental Circus) for other companies, across all the popular platforms of the day, both 8 and 16 bit. As the scale of the company increased it was possible for Teque to release games of their own, rather than rely totally on bigger companies such as Grandslam and Domark as they had done before. It was decided that a new name was required for this and so Krisalis came into being although the original spelling of the name, 'Chrysalis', was changed within weeks of the release of the first game.

The first Krisalis project, released in 1988, was the science fiction exploration game 'Prison'. Although the Krisalis label was now established, Teque carried on producing many successful games for other companies. 1989 saw the release of the most successful game in the company's history: Manchester United The official computer game. Well received by all who saw it, it was the first game to successfully blend a playable arcade style football game with a management side. The Manchester United game concept was developed further with the release of Manchester United Europe, Manchester United Premier League Champions and Manchester United: The Double. As well as Manchester United, Krisalis have also worked with John Barnes of Liverpool & England fame, Graham Taylor in his time as England manager and Sheffield Wednesday.

The Teque name was eventually dropped in 1991 in favour of Krisalis, although one-time sister company Teque London, carry on the name to this day. And the Krisalis building is still known as 'Teque House'.

As computers and consoles have come & gone, so Krisalis have evolved and looked to the next wave of machines. From development of games for Spectrum, C64, Amstrad CPC and MSX, through Amiga, ST, Megadrive, Archimedes, SNES and 3D0, Krisalis was focused on both original titles and conversions for Playstation and Saturn. This was the time Krisalis and Philips signed a deal to convert CD-i blockbusters on other formats. Curious cross platform games like Burn:Cycle and Chaos Control were not very common in the EMEA regions, but at least Japan got an official release. After CD-i was over, Krisalis continued for Philips converting "UEFA Champions League" for Sony Playstation in 1997. We hope to trace more Krisalis spokepersons and give us details, because now we are left wanting a lot more to know about a former unknown company to Philips and CD-i in general! Mysterious details about the arrival of Ultra CD-i Soccer on CD-i were part of this deal, which might explain the sudden spontaneous release of this title on CD-i in 1997. Hot stuff!

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CD-i as a student job

>> Tuesday, March 20, 2007

"My first real job in technology was as a QA tester for a company that made games for the CD-i platform. I worked the night shift there while I was in college to help pay the bills. 9PM-2AM. Ugh. When I was in college those seemed like pretty sweet hours, though :-)"

With these words CD-i tester Jason started. "In retrospect the CD-i platform seems pretty weak (and even at the time I could tell it was a bad bet business-wise -- the high cost limited its appeal), but it was doing some pretty cool stuff hardware-wise, at least for 1994-95. The CD-i titles I got to work with were uniformly awful. There was a Civil War strategy game based on the Battle of First Manassas, for example. A "feature" of the game was that you could set different postures for the AI opponent; "Cautious", say, or "Aggressive". The only problem was that, no matter which you chose, the AI always ended up massing its units into a giant blob and then charging them all North or South, depending on which side it was on. Oops!

Another title that was much-hated inside the test lab was an NFL football trivia game. This was loathed because it had a bank of audio quotes from real NFL announcers; it would play a quote back to you after each question. Unfortunately there were only about 10 quotes in the system, so you got real tired of them real fast. One priceless aspect of that game, though: if you were unfamiliar with the rules of the trivia game, it had an audio feature with one of those announcers where he explained the basic rules to you. One of those rules was that each player had to pick an NFL team to represent them in the game. This meant that the famous announcer guy had to explain to players that, in a 2 player game, each player had to choose a different team -- they both couldn't be the Chicago Bears, for example. But due to a poorly written script, the way he explained it was (and I quote): "One more thing: remember, no team can play with itself."

Classic.

Another one I worked on was called "Kingdom: the Far Reaches", anticipated to be a Blockbuster Title because it was one of the few CD-i games that used the "DV Pack" addon (an MPEG-1 video decoder) to allow glorious Full Motion Video. Pretty cool, except it meant that the already small universe of potential customers (people with CD-i's) suddenly became an order of magnitude smaller (people with CD-is who ALSO have the DV Pack). :-D "

Sure not all CD-i testers have fond memories of the system, and it's nice to read what bugged them the most about a difficult system like CD-i! Questions for Jason? Post them here!

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The Firesign Theatre going interactive

>> Monday, March 19, 2007

Even when Philips released CD-i to the market in 1990, they were busy developing the system from 1983 onwards. The introduction of CD-i was planned long before the launch date of 1990, so there were different projects started about CD-i titles. One of these initiators of an early Interactive CD was the Firesign Theatre, a very surreal foursome who produced radio shows and albums starting in the '70s with a "free-flowing, stream of consciousness style" - here's an example MP3 from 'I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus', to give you a vague idea. Searching Google about the Firesign Theatre brings up stories about the 1985 album 'Eat Or Be Eaten', in which "the framing device of this album is a character stuck in an interactive videogame." Interesting!

In fact, a history of the Firesign Theater posted at Disinformation.com reveals: "In 1985 The Firesign Theatre was approached by Philips to write two demonstration games for their new CD Interactive machines. Eat Or Be Eaten, was recorded as a 99 track demo and the accompanying graphics made but the actual finished project was never published commercially. Danger In Dreamland, a Nick Danger Hollywood studio back-lot murder mystery game, was written but not recorded. Eat Or Be Eaten (1985) was salvaged and released as the first CD with subcode graphics." Since the actual Philips CD-i was released in 1991, this must have been something to do with the making of the CD-i format in 1986?

PHIL AUSTIN: In 1983, Peter and Phil and I went to work for The Record Group in Burbank and for three years or so, we hung on for several projects, the biggest of which was called "Danger in Dreamland", a Nick Danger interactive game designed for CD-i, a kind of early CD-ROM. These were the days when the standards of the medium were being argued out between Sony and Philips, for instance. Our company was allied with Philips. "Danger In Dreamland" is a strange project, too complicated for its time, but it was just exactly what eventually happened in CD-i programming. It is a Hollywood backlot kidnapping mystery which features various films, one a kind of John Garfield drama about spud-hunting in the Deep South and another featuring Tex, the (singing) Hassidic Horse. You had to be there. On a backlot filled with intrigue and ... well, danger, Danger roams. The only part of it that was eventually produced was a test sequence in which Andrea Marcovicci, the torch singer, played Lune Chardonnay.

Elsewhere, there's some mention that Firesign's movie The Case of the Missing Yolk (1983) was originally meant to be the world's first 'interactive video' with the help of an unnamed Japanese company and Michael Nesmith's Pacific Arts Video - I presume it would have been like Dragon's Lair? "The trio worked with Mattel's Intellivision wing in the development of interactive video games" in 1982, and further explained: "The remaining Firesigners also provided voices for some of Mattel's Intellivison games, including Bomb Squad and B52 Bomber."]

In fact, the Firesign Theater seem to have been stymied in many major game projects they produced, except one masterminded by founding member Phil Proctor, who mentioned this in a 1995 interview: a CD-ROM that is "a comedic take on some of the more popular adventure-style games that have been out on the market for the last year or two." And, wait for it - it was Pyst, with John Goodman, the Myst-aping CD-ROM parody. VERY odd.

Anyhow, Proctor's Wikipedia entry reveals that he's been infiltrating games in a different way of recent - as a voice actor, since he "did two voices in the GameCube video Game Eternal Darkness: Sanity's Requiem, and on the Playstation 2's Dark Chronicle. He is the voice of Hakese and Monkey White in the Ape Escape series... Recently, his voice was featured in the video game Dead Rising, as the character Russell Barnaby." So there.

This story is realized thanks to GameSetWatch, DisInformation, Wikipedia and The Firesign Theatre website.

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CD-Imagine (5) - Inca 2

>> Friday, March 16, 2007

A sequel to the Coktel Vision's surreal space combat/adventure game was never realized on CD-i, unfortunately. In my opinion, the type of game Inca was set in suits the CD-i perfectly, and when it would make use of Digital Video a must-have title could have been born here. The plot takes up several years after Inca 1, in which Eldorado (the hero) established a new Inca Empire in space, despite the efforts of a pirate/ conquistador named Aguirre. Aguirre is still around, and plots to destroy the empire, using a mysterious asteroid that jams interplanetary communications. The pseudo-mystical stuff that made up the bulk of Inca 1 is still present, especially towards the ending, but this time around it is dominated by the faux-Star Wars elements, particularly when a Han Solo clone named Kelt Cartier joins your side. Like its predecessor, Inca 2 is a hybrid of WING COMMANDER-style space combat and point-and-click adventure, proceeding in mostly-linear fashion from scene to scene. It mercifully leaves out the mazes of the original, and adds a third element just as significant to the whole as the combat and the puzzles: extensive cut scenes. If you like Inca 1 on CD-i, you will enjoy Inca 2 on CD-ROM a lot!

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The CD-i Repair Guide: status and update

>> Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thanks to Dauphinais Richard from Gametronik you can download a guide in PDF format with tutorials about how to repair broken CD-i parts, including peripherals and hardware like the Timekeeper battery. In 2005 Richard started to write a guide which was the source of Terratron's Timekeeper battery article, which is unfortunately not available at this time of writing. Together with "Le Monde du CD-i" they will update the guide with better pictures and a translation in the english language, something the majority of us was hoping for. We highly thank Richard for his efforts for CD-i and hope he will succeed in the updated version. Here you can find the starting thread from the author. Here you can download the original French Guide.

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Thunder in Paradise Interactive - CD-i Review

>> Wednesday, March 14, 2007

One of the biggest key-stones for the CD-i was the Interactive Movie. What kind of graphics could top real live action? It's a game genre American Laser Games was thriving on with the gun shooters like Mad Dog McCree and Crime Patrol. The best conversions were available on CD-i which were almost on par with the Arcade versions. Also Philips was experimenting with Interactive Movies and signed deals with companies like Paramount and Buena Vista to develop interactive versions of movie licenses like Star Trek and Jurassic Park. Unfortunately, this never happened because the life of CD-i was over before these projects got off the ground. However, their first real try after the famous Voyeur was following the crew from Thunder in Paradise, an one-hour action-adventure TV series from the creators of Baywatch, which stars Terry Bollea alias Hulk Hogan, Chris Lemmon and Carol Alt. This first-run syndicated TV series originally premiered as a straight-to-video feature in September of 1993, then ran for one season in 1994 before being canceled. A huge project which could have started a change in the way we play games.

Facts:
Developer: Philips Point of View / Mass Media
Publisher: Philips Media Games
Release: 1995
Genre: Interactive Movie / Rail Shooter
Review date: March 2007
Required: Digital Video cartridge
Recommended: Peacekeeper Gun / Mouse
Extra: no multiplayer, age rating: >7

Commonly, movie licensed games nowadays are of mediocre quality. Limited budgets and fast development times prevent these games from being true classics. Philips clearly had a different vision in this, Thunder in Paradise is one of the most beautiful CD-i games ever created, and the 'interactive movie' genre was put to a new level thank to Thunder.

Thunder in Paradise follows the adventures of two ex-Navy SEALS, Randolph J. "Hurricane" Spencer and Martin "Bru" Brubaker, who work as mercenaries -for-hire out of their tropical resort headquarters along Florida's Gulf Coast. Using their futuristic, high-tech boat, nicknamed "Thunder," they travel around the world fighting various and sundry criminals and villains. However, they are forced to balance their dangerous undercover work with their responsibilities of raising widower Spence's young daughter Jessica, who lives with them.

Former model Kelly LaRue, who owns and manages the "Scuttlebutt Bar N' Grill" on the beach in front of the resort, looks after Jessica whenever Spence and Bru go on their missions. Kelly also serves as a romantic foil for Bru, who consistently fails miserably in his pursuit of her. Edward Whitaker, Jessica's uncle, owns the beach resort and makes semi-regular appearances in the series, primarily for comic relief.

The Thunder in Paradise pilot movie was filmed in and around the historic Don Cesar Hotel in St. Petersburg, Florida during April of 1993. When the series was picked up for a full season, the production company then moved to Disney-MGM Studios near Orlando, where the primary filming location became the Grand Floridian Resort at the Walt Disney World Resort. Other filming locations at Walt Disney World included Disney's Old Key West Resort, and EPCOT, used heavily due to the wide variety of futuristic and architectural styles available at that theme park. The destruction of the school featured in the two-part episode "Deadly Lessons" was an actual controlled demolition of a school building in Central Florida that the production company agreed to perform in exchange for filming rights.

When Philips entered the scene, they planned on a different course with the very last episode: "The M.A.J.O.R. and the Minor". Ironically this also ended life of Thunder in Paradise as well! The two-part episode "The M.A.J.O.R. and the Minor" was used as the basis for the Thunder in Paradise CD-Interactive game. In addition to the episode itself, additional footage was filmed for use at different stages in the game. Although video game tie-ins have been created for numerous TV series such as Star Trek: The Next Generation and CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, this is the only time in TV history that an actual aired episode was written and structured to serve as the basis for a video game.

The title is based around three 'encounters', which you can either play individually, one after another, or integrated together with clips from the TV show as a sort of 'interactive television'. If you play them in order, the 'Thunder Encounter' is first. 'Thunder', of course, is the high-tech speed boat that is the star of the show, presumably the bastard child of the car from 'Knight Rider'. It talks, it shoots missiles, and when the heroes are in a hurry, they hit the 'hyper-speed' and the guys in editing speed up the beauty shots of the boat so they're really fast.

In the encounter, you're trying to shoot down an assault by missiles, planes, aircraft, etc. You see out one side of the boat, with a nicely-animated moving water effect, and have a radar screen at the bottom right that shows you threats on all four sides. To switch sides, you press button-two to rotate clockwise, or hold button-two and press the joypad to pick a side. Your basic weapon works like the cannons in 'Missile Command', by creating a brief explosion that destroys anything that flies into it. Given the speed at which missiles approach you, leading your targets is essential. You also have a limited number of long-range missiles that take out threats on the outer ranges of the radar, and a smart-bomb that elminiates everything close to the ship.

That you'll take some hits is a given. What this game is about is resource allocation. Shields on all four sides will protect the ship until they're gone, and even regenerate if they're defended well, so you can compromise a healthy shield if one side of the ship is exposed. It takes a little more thought than the average shooter, but it makes things more interesting. The sprite animation is surprisingly good for a CD-i title: it makes you wonder why Chaos Control had to use MPEG for everything.

The other two segments, the 'Island Encounter' and the 'Lab Encounter' are virtually identical to each other. You walk around a terrain that looks suspiciously like a stock location at Disney World (which technically, it is), with a set of on-screen cross-hairs, blasting the baddies as the pop up from behind various objects. It's more than a little like Mad Dog McCree or Escape from CyberCity, but far more playable. Instead of dying when you get hit, you lose health. That allows the designers to stock the locations to the gills with gunners, put them in tricky locations, etc. The action is fast and furious, and the concept is executed better than the American Laser Games like Mad Dog McCree.

Remarkably, the nasties aren't actors in same-place-every-time MPEG video. They're actually objects animated by the CPU, meaning they can show up in different places, a different order, or not at all, each time you play the game. And the animation is good enough that you can hardly tell it isn't MPEG. Gunners jump into the frame, roll out from under their cover, etc. And when hit, they don't just stand there smoking (Like in Infogrames' Chaos Control and Solar Crusade!), but disintigrate in a white-blue implosion. This technical feat alone is worth the price of admission. Nice that it makes the game more playable too!

Thunder in Paradise is no Doom or Rebel Assault, but it is genuinely fun, and one of the best no-brainer twitch-and-shoot games for the CD-i. If Chaos Control and Mad Dog McCree are your kind of game, save your money on both by buying this title instead.

End comments:
One of the best shooters you can play with the Peacekeeper Gun. Calibration is available just as in the ALG games, and it works perfectly. The CPU rendered bad guys create a far more intense experience than playing MPEG games like Mad Dog.

Graphics: 10
Over the top fantastic. The real acting is perfectly matching the animated enemies. Everything is very smooth and the locations are very interesting, colourful and full of tension. Nothing can beat real television but the rail system is limiting the free place for you to explore.

Sound: 7
The official soundtrack is nice and adds to the Interactive Television feel the game wants to create. For the rest the audio is there but not outstanding. Nerve stretching tunes will keep you on the edge of your seat once you're in the middle of the lab encouter. It's more about sound rather than music.

Playability: 9
VERY good. It tops other shooters like Chaos Control and Crime Patrol easily. The game is fast, responsive and fun. You can't go wrong with Thunder in Paradise.

Value: 8
It's a perfect add the enemies are not in the MPEG layer but animated seperately by the CPU. This way every game will be different and enemies won't go the same route every time over and over again. The game itself, however, is very short, and over within an hour if you beat everything once. You'll be left wanting for so much more, but the overall game experience makes you forget how short the game really is. It's better to have a fun short game rather than a dull long one, don't you think?

Overall: 9 (not an average)
There's no rail shooter on CD-i, 3DO or Jaguar better than Thunder!

Similar games on CD-i:
Chaos Control, Mad Dog McCree, Crime Patrol

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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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