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

CD-i 180 Professional: The inside and outside

>> Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The website www.marantzphilips.nl just added a lot of pictures of the CD-i 180 system. "The Philips CDI-180 is an advance-technology CD-I player module that has been purpose designed as part of a sophisticated Philips CD-Interactive System. This user-friendly system fully exploits the tremendous information capacity of the standars 12-cm/5.1/4-inch compact disc format. It will also play CD audio discs and the audio section of CD-video media.

The function of the Philips CDI-180 Player is to accept the CD-I disc, read it out - under the control of the Multi Media Controller (MCC) - then supply an appropriate digital signal output to the MMC for processing. The output from the MMC is displayed on a suitable video/TV monitor which presents the CD-I program under the direct control of the user. The user-friendly design concepts of the CDI-180 maximize the exploitation of the CD-I media but minimize man/machine interfacing. The CD-I player system is intended primarily for use in institutional and professional applications, suc as education, trainig and electronic publishing."

Features:
- Part of the Philips Modular CD-I system
- Operates with the CDI-181 Multi Media Controller
- Fully modular configuration
- Providdes digital readout data for processing
- Meets internationally accepted CD-I standards

Click here to see more of the inside and outside!

Credits: MarantzPhilips.nl

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Take a ride through The lost Ride on CD-i

>> Monday, April 20, 2009

Have you played The Lost Ride? Depending on what player you're playing it you've encoutered some bugs while playing. Sometimes it makes the game unplayable especially when you have a non-Philips CD-i player. Do you ask yourself how to play through it? The instruction booklet is a little vague and as far as we know there are no cheats available for The Lost Ride. It's also difficult to write a walkthrough because the mazes in The Lost Ride are randomly generated each time you start a level. This adds a lot to the replayability of the game, but it is hard to write a FAQ for it.
All I can do is give you a few guidelines about how to play through this game. When you pause the game while playing, you see a map with all the paths you've come through. (this might take a while because the game first will finish the video sequence of that turn) You have to look for the green and blue checkpoints. These checkpoints (showed as bars on the map) will give you new ammo and health but will also trigger the gate to the end boss. When you've been throught he checkpoints the final gate will appear on the map. You have to ride to it and when you pass the gate a new roler coaster sequence will appear. In this scene, you have to press the right buttons on the right time, a little like in Don Bluth's Dragon's Lair. I guess you could make a FAQ for these sequences but it has been a long time since I've played them.

There are a few dead ends, rocks on the rails which you have to shoot, avoid obstacles on the way, and so on. You see on forehand what's going to happen so just pay attention and you should be fine. At the end, the end boss will appear. Your cart will stop and you have to shoot the boss at its weak spot. It works a little like the bosses in Creature Shock. Animations will follow up each other showing a weak spot from time to time. When it's destroyed, you'll pass on to the next level (the graphics are gorgeous in these scenes). The first level is located in the mines (with a lot of small tunnels, rocks and mountains below earth level), the second level is located in the ocean (with a lot of fish, sunken boats and rail highways), the third level is located 'in the future', where everything is modern/fantasy. At the end of this level you'll go outside into a science fiction city (beautifully created).

The main mazes are randomly generated. The end sequences could be summed up, if anyone has come this far by avoiding the bugs!

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Random CD-i Quote (4)

>> Wednesday, April 15, 2009

"It was not an easy decision for not releasing Microcosm on CD-i, but the title was buggy and was being developed almost at the same time as 7th Guest (certainly a fantastic achievement for CD-i) out of a facility that we had in Dorking which by the way, was in the process of being disbanded. Remember, Microcosm was one of the first FMV efforts, that started before the commercial release of the add on FMV board for the 910 player and things were not stable at all - both in terms of the FMV board and associated software commands, but also in the Microcosm code. Microcosm made a great demo but it had significant fatal crash bugs at least in the early days which we couldn't afford to put out there. Certainly, the title could have gone a slight re-code and probably would have made a great title..."

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The next-gen CD-i was almost the 3DO M2 including Sega

>> Tuesday, April 14, 2009

In the latest edition of Edge I found a pretty interesting quote by Trip Hawkins (creator/founder of 3DO) with regards to the 3DO M2 (second generation of 3DO):
"The M2, in hindsight, could have been a succesful machine - a Playstation 2 that came out 3 or 4 years before the playstation 2"
"We made some really interesting moves where we got very close to putting together a strong coalition of companies to support the M2 and take on the Playstation (1). At one point I had a verbal deal with Philips and Sega to join forces with Matsushita. That grouping of companies could have given Sony a run for it"

But it was not to be. The technology was strong but, as Hawkings tells it, the business relationships between Sega and Matsushita ultimately proved unworkable.
"Matsushita wanted to kick Sega out of the deal and then Sega obviously got all mad and Philips backed off. I spent a year putting that coalition together, but in the end they just couldn't get along"

So much went on behind the scenes in those years, I remember a few quotes by some Philips guys in this regard as well. Not sure if Philips would have seen it through, with their focus already starting to change back then away from Media... Still... what could have been...
By: Merijn; Quote from Edge Magazine

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Shared file formats between CD-i and Playstation

The programmer of the CD-i music converter 'jPSXdec' is creating a new version which will support CD-i games better. It's not yet supporting the video files as games like Hotel Mario and some other games, use CLUT or DYUV for the background, and Run Length for the animation. Interesting, does this mean that the Playstation 1 shares some file formats with CD-i? I didn't know that. It would make sense because the ADPCM audio part of CD-i (and CD-ROM) was developed by Sony...
Thanks to cdifan and Luigi

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Author of CD-i Emulator about past and future

>> Friday, April 10, 2009

It's been over a year since we posted something about the CD-i Emulator. Many of you are waiting for new updates; today the author of CD-i Emulator talks about the past and future of his CD-i project. What was the most difficult thing to code for your CDi emulator?
"The hardest things to code for CD-i Emulator were and still are the emulations of the undocumented hardware that controls the CD and audio interface and the MPEG hardware. The public API's of these things are well-specified in the Green Book, but the actual hardware that provides the functionality is not documented anywhere that I've been able to find. And I looked pretty hard... So it had to be done by reverse-engineering the ROM drivers and watching the I/O generated by API traces. This work was somewhere between doubled and tripled by the fact that there are several generations of these interface chips, sometimes with radically different interfaces.

The video hardware is almost documented (and in the case of one chip, the VDSC, actually IS documented) and the emulation of this part of the hardware was also made much easier because the Green Book API for it pretty much matches the actual hardware (it specifies the memory formats of images and control tables in details; the only undocumented part is how the hardware knows where to find this data in memory). The emulation for things like pointing devices, NVRAM and timers is almost trivial compared to the above. Initially I had some trouble getting my 68070 emulation fast enough (it is entirely coded in mostly portable C++) but those troubles are long over, not in the least because the PC's have been getting steadily faster"


About the CDi File Player, does it extract many types of pictures (pictures of backgrounds, pictures used for cutscenes, etc...)?
"The CD-i File Player would be able to extract any data (audio, video) stored on disc in a "standard" (that is, Green Book specified) format. The Green Book allows application-specific coding, e.g. custom run-length encoding, compiled sprites, etc and these cannot be extracted without full emulation. For that I would like to include some support in a future version of CD-i Emulator." What gives you the idea of making a CD-i emulator, and why ?
"The basic motivation behind CD-i Emulator was that I didn't want to lose my CD-i title collection (part of which I programmed myself or contributed to significantly) because of aging hardware. When I started this work around 1997 the "demise" of CD-i was still quite fresh and it seemed quite urgent to get things going while there was still functioning hardware around. Of course, it now seems that the hardware is going to last much longer then one might expect from a system abandoned more then ten years ago."

About the CD-i emulator, how is it going?
"There has been some development since the last public release in 2005, in particular on the front of development support and MPEG emulation. It has been going very slow, however, lately mostly because we've just had our second child last week (a beautiful girl). But emulation work like this is agonizingly boring until you get something actually working (just a lot of staring at traces and disassemblies, trying something, followed by more staring; see point 1). And then you need to root out bugs which means more tracing and more staring. One thing I would like to achieve with the CD-i File Player is to get some visible development work out there, but it hasn't borne fruits yet. It would be free (no payments) and probably use some form of open source."

Thanks to Luigi and CD-i fan

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Tox Runner - the sequel to Video Speedway CD-i

>> Thursday, April 9, 2009

A few words from a CD-i developer who worked at ISG coding Video Speedway and other projects on CD-i: "I spent 2 months playing Tox Runner (a terrible Road Rash clone for the CD-i) for a living. My favorite Tox Runner bug report: "Race takes exactly the same amount of time to finish no matter how fast you ride." This led to a big argument with the developers, who said that this was the way it should be and that I "didn't understand physics." They played the physics card again later when they used "centrifugal force" to explain why a rider would be pulled toward the center of a turn - even if he was sitting still. To my knowledge, the game was never released primarily because the testers hated it so much. If you ever played any CD-i games, to think that a game could be too bad for the system is astonishing
Road Rat was an early name for Tox Runner I believe. This never got release? This title was in and out of product test for a few years, I just assumed it finally got a release since it disappeared. Well after testing it a few hundred times I can see why, it was junk. This title was made by the same people who made Video Speedway. Its basically the Video Speedway engine which in my opinion is one of the worst racing games ever produced so this title is not off to a good start. But the twist with tox runner was you used motorcycles instead of race cars. The premise was you lived in a sort of Road Warrior type world. Various outposts have come down with some sort of deadly virus, you have to run the cure called tox to these various outposts on your motorcycle within a set period of time. While this is going on various gangs try to stop you from achieving this by trying to run you off the road. Interesting idea for a game but the game play wasn't so good and the graphics were a bit comical.

Bike Warrior was also Tox Runner but in an early stage of development. Basically it was a motorcycle race game set in a post-nuclear holocaust future. A slideshow sequence provided the back story about the player needing to deliver antitoxin to a group of survivors. As you raced down a long stretch of road through a barren wasteland, you had to avoid toxic CDI and marauding bikers. Obviously, the game was inspired by The Road Warrior. ISG's partners closed the company and went their separate ways soon after we delivered the games to PIMA, but I suspect the reason they were never released was that PIMA's game production had outpaced CD-I sales."

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Mad Dog McCree: Lightgun Games Shine on CD-i

>> Wednesday, April 1, 2009

With the recent rumours of Mad Dog McCree being ported to the Nintendo Wii it is a good moment to have a look at what the game was about when it was ported to CD-i in 1993 (15 years back!)

OK, flashback. When arcade-game makers jerry-rigged laser-disc videogames in the 80's, there were two basic design philosophies. The first was that the stuff playing back on the disc was the game, and that different segments of video should play back, based on the player's input. This is the design philosophy of the Don Bluth games, such as ''Dragon's Lair'' and Space Ace. The problem there is the unavoidable repetitiveness of that approach -- the scenes in Bluth's game look the same every time and require the same moves. Winning isn't a matter of reaction, strategy, improvisation or reaction so much as it is one of memorization. You get killed by a monster one time, you remember where he pops up next time.

The other approach is to superimpose computer graphics on top of video- disc footage. That gives you all the flexibility of the usual videogame, but gets the lush visuals of the video disc. The first games to use this approach put simple airplane-based shoot-em- ups on top of flying footage. The whole was exactly the sum of its parts -- the usual shooting game, with some film running behind it. Flash forward a few years. American Laser Games and other companies combine those ideas with a light-gun, and create games where you shoot at on-screen villains. Super-imposed computer graphics show gunshot blasts or bursts of blood on top of the laser-disc bad guys. For many players, it works. The photorealistic visuals give you an interesting world to interact with (well, shoot at), while the skill of shooting is difficult enough and subject to enough random factors that rote memorization isn't enough.

Now that the video can be compressed on to CD-ROMs, these games can be played in the home, with either a light-gun or a joystick-style controller. Is it the same without the gun? Hardly. But it's still reasonably entertaining. After the ''Mad Dog McCree'' title sequence, the disc asks for your choice of controller: gun, remote controller, trackball, or other. I only have the standard controller included with the Magnavox CDi450 and a pair of touchpads, so I can't evaluate the quality of the gun. The standard controller is barely adequate for this kind of action game, and the touchpad is only so-so. With these controllers, you get an on-screen target that you point at the bad guys. Using the ''speed'' switch on the touchpad offers two speeds: much too slow, and not quite fast enough. Intentionally selecting the wrong kind of controller on the first screen doesn't help. The game opens inside a shack, which holds all your game controls. From this, you can shoot a rulebook to get game help, blast a ''load game'' barrel to restore a saved game from player memory, shoot a bullseye to go out to a practice range, etc. It's a nice interface, straightforward and appropriate to the title.

When you hit the ''play game'' wanted poster, you jump to video of riding into a western town, as you'd see it. The entire game is in a first-person perspective, appropriate for a shooting game. An old man calls out to you, and tells you how Mad Dog McCree's gang has taken over the town. Near the end of his speech, a gunslinger appears behind him and draws. If you fail to shoot him, he'll kill the old timer... and you won't get the man's hints you need to succeed! In scenes where you can shoot, the barrel of your gun is shown at the bottom left of the screen. If you run out of bullets, you must shoot this icon to reload. Suffice to say that you should avoid running out of bullets, but also be careful about when you reload. Once you arrive in the town, a screen allows you to choose which of four locations you'd like to visit first (or return to the game options shack). If you've listened to the tips, you won't visit the Sheriff's Office until you've gotten the keys from the thugs at the Saloon.

Both those scenes, as well as some others, play out the same way every time you play them. So, if you know where to shoot once, you should be able to breeze through in later attempts. Other scenes incorporate random elements. For example, once you enter the bank, bad guys can pop up in any number of places, and you'll have to move quickly to shoot them before they shoot you. Of course, there are really only a half-dozen places they can appear from, so taking them out will eventually become a matter of watching for which bad guys haven't yet popped up. If you're shot, you get a visit to the undertaker, who tells you how many lives you have left. You'll also see him, and lose one of your five lives, if you shoot an innocent person or fail to protect the innocent from Mad Dog's gang. After an admonishment to shoot better, you once again get to pick which scene you want to play. Some characters in these scenes give you important information you'll need to progress in the game: where to find a map to Mad Dog's hide-out, where you need to go first, etc. Of course, you may not be able to hear them if you've turned down the TV volume because POW! you don't want to wake up the POW! neighbors.

The characters are classic one-dimensional western cliches, closer to ''Back to the Future III''s version of the Old West than ''Unforgiven''s. But since you're going to end up killing most of them, it's a moot point. The whole western setting is nicely realized, with period dress and realistic sets. American Laser Games spent some money here, and thanks to the digital-video cartridge, it shows. Since there's a ''save game'' available, you might think finishing the game is a simple matter of finishing each scene without losing a life, saving the game, playing the next, and restoring the saved game from memory any time you get killed. Not so fast, pardner. The game punishes you for that by making you shoot it out in a duel. You see a bad guy ready to draw, and your bullet-chamber icon is replaced by a holster. When he starts to move, or even just before, click the holster and shoot him. Win and you continue. Miss and you're out one life. One of the duels points out a huge flaw of the game's control scheme. If you see the duel is in front of the corral, you can basically kiss off one life. There is no way to get the cursor to move from the holster all the way across the screen to the duellist before he shoots you.

You die not for lack of reflexes or attentiveness, but because you didn't pay $30 extra for the gun, and because CapDisc didn't include any way to speed up the cursor. Escape From CyberCity had a cursor that accelerated as it moved across the screen -- why isn't that at least an option here? If you finish all the scenes in the town, it's off to find Mad Dog McCree's hide-out. Again, the key is to listen to hints of people you meet along the way, who'll tell you order in which you need to visit scenes to survive. There are some innovative scenes along the way, in which you need to use your gun for purposes other than shooting bad guys. The gameplay in ''Mad Dog McCree'' is a little simple for my tastes, but I think there's an audience for this kind of shooter, and they'll appreciate the variety of shoot-out situations. Philips has announced a few more shooting games are on the way, so those fans may want to consider buying the disc bundled with the light-gun. With just a touchpad, it's a bit more frustrating that it ought to be.

Credits: Chris Adamson

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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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