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CD-i: Back in Time for a Dime

>> Friday, December 29, 2006

Recent months I think The Black Moon project has managed quite some attention from especially Retro Gamer, a UK published magazine dedicated to the old 16-bit, 8-bit and even older game consoles. You remember the charity auction with very exclusive material about the Zelda CD-i games! As I'm not living in the UK, I was never able to find myself a copy... To my surprise, when I was walking by the local AKO bookstore, it was the first time around I saw one copy of the latest Retro Gamer in stock here in the Netherlands! Ofcourse you've already read the project news from The Black Moon project, so you know this very issue has eleven pages dedicated to CD-i! That's quite some attention for an underrated console like CD-i, nowhere considered even as a game console by itself! The magazine was pretty expensive by the way (12,50 euros), but just for CD-i's sake it's worth it. As Devin sais: "This really is THE RetroGamer for Philips CD-i! Black Moon is pretty damned proud to be a part of it as well."

I'm also preparing a tutorial about CD-i Emulator, and I'm happy to see also Retro Gamer spent a page to explain it as I feel the CD-i Emulator is pretty complicated to use. The article starts with a lengthy introduction using the Black Moon articles of Super Mario's Wacky Worlds and with some great insights from Dale DeSharone who worked at Spinnaker Software and Animation Magic (look at the games from the CD-i Zelda auction). I'm happy to see Retro Gamer doesn't trash the CD-i as layman's Defunct Games does, starting with "The CD-i is known though misunderstood by nearly everyone." This is going to be great. I don't know why they quote Philips as "technically the second oldest company in the world to dabble in games, after Nintendo which is two years older", as far as I know this is not true: Philips was the first one to produce a videogame (as Magnavox), even Nintendo started their business in videogames by selling the Magnavox Odyssey video system in the first place. "CD-i was just obviously not a game system and Philips was actually very clear in telling us that it didn't believe the market for this device was games". Excellent quote from Dale who hit it right on the spot and points out the misunderstanding of most people why they feel the CD-i failed.

Devin even hints in the article to an (upcoming) interesting story: "A CD-i 2 was on the drawing board and Philips even commissioned Argonaut to produce the 3D Processor" When you link Argonaut being the core team behind the SNES Super FX chip, I'm very sure you want to track down a copy of Retro Gamer to read all this!

To complete the issue, the coverstory is about the classic "Galaxian" which has been converted about a million times. Ofcourse we all know Galaxian was included in CD-i's Arcade Classics. While an expensive magazine, if you like CD-i, this is a magazine for you to buy.


CD-Imagine (2) - Christmas Levels

>> Sunday, December 24, 2006

You know Creative Media was a very small company. Games like the original Christmas Country were finished in just six months time, because otherwise it would not pay itself back. It's times like this I'll never forget. Putting out games to the market with an estimated price of only 20 dollars, offering you a lot of fun and great gameplay, especially on a system (=cd-i) which is known for slowdowns and slow-paced complex games. Christmas Country was, in any sense, to compete with Super Mario platformers, like there were none of those on CD-i. Platforming was rare on CD-i, and two of the best available were The Apprentice and Lucky Luke, both developed by Eindhoven-based SPC Vision (The Vision Factory). Now, calling their advertisement with "Finally a platform game with several kinds of enemies", I reckon they refer back to their own prequel to Christmas Country: Christmas Crisis. Two titles that are often mixed up with each other. If you've followed the story on Creative Media and DIMA from one year back at The Black Moon monthly, you've figured out the differences, but not only that! Creative Media had a lot of plans in mind for future releases on CD-i. CD-i was seen as a dead format but with a lot of fans yearning for new games. Creating games in just a few months and selling them for dirt cheap sounded as the perfect solution. However, as you know by know Tetsuo gaiden already meant the end of Creative Media and even their last title "Whack a Bubble" was sold after Creative Media was already vanished. However, they had plans for an update of Christmas Country. Ofcourse people complained on a few simple mistakes they made with the first: no background music, and no vertical scrolling possibilities. At first, technical limits of the CD-i were the reason, but after a little more development time (after Christmas Country was already released (time=money!)) they found more ways to enhance the scrolling mechanisms and reserved some memory for background music. New levels were designed and put together as Christmas Country: The lost Levels. Unfortunately, Creative Media was a little too ambitious, and not willing to cross platforms with their strong vision of new arcade classics. The lost Levels will be remembered as how Christmas Country was supposed to be, even when the former was already an excellent platformer.


Happy Holidays!

>> Sunday, December 17, 2006

Hello everybody, I've had a great first year with Interactive Dreams, and CD-i is definately flourishing more than every before thanks to extensive updates like the Philips ADS stories and the famous Microcosm CD-i proto disc. Now how can 2007 possibly get any better than this? You'll see about that, but first the holidays are coming and your children have to do something. I've retrieved two colouring plates related to CD-i which are pretty neat, you probably remember the interactive Tim & Bear series on CD-i and the Family Bears: Have fun with the whole family. Next to CD-i games, Kid's titles and titles of reference and education are important and even exclusive to CD-i, we'll cover more of these next year.

You can click on each picture to enlarge them, or right-click to save them to your harddisk. I wish you all the best in 2007 and I hope you will enjoy CD-i as much as we will next year!


What if the Zelda CD-i games weren't licensed by Nintendo?

>> Sunday, December 10, 2006

This is something I'm thinking about for quite some time. Zelda is hot, there is no doubt about that. But everytime a games magazine or a games website dedicates a page to the Zelda franchise, summing each Zelda installments to their positive and negative marks, the Zelda CD-i games are always drawn to the negative side, because, compared to the 'original' Zelda games (So, those created by Nintendo themselves), the CD-i games can't be anything else than bad, bad, bad. So yes, they are different, but that doesn't make them bad. Taking the Animation Magic titles for example. One step further, they released Mutant Rampage after they completed the two Zelda CD-i games. With a total budget of over 1 million USA dollars, they had a lot do spend on it. Mutant Rampage was something else, although for a reason it was based on the same engine. The cut-scenes were enhanced with the extras of the Digital Video Cartridge, which made the frames more fluid and detailed. That was not all. The character animations, the variety, so OK, the game theme is a little different but in my opinion it's a very clever game, very nice to play and a lot of fun. So hold on, are all those magazines and websites wrong telling the Zelda games are plain bad? Ofcourse they are! For one reason because not even half of them ever played the games, and those who did are only comparing the games to the qualities outstanded by Nintendo, released on consoles capable of better graphics and power. Easy, no...

To bring my self back, I was thinking what would have happened when Animation Magic decided to release those games with a different name. So: No Zelda. Just a made up theme. What if the games weren't Zelda games? I'm afraid they would have been appreciated now a lot more. Yes, NOW. Because I don't think that would have happened in 1993. Because Philips wasn't stupid and knew Nintendo would sell. It's for a reason they carry the Zelda franchise. And it's an official one, too. Maybe the Zelda games from Animation Magic would be appreciated far less if they didn't carry the Zelda name, but in my opinion in retro perspective it would be seen as highly interested (first generation!) games on CD-i. Far underrated, just as Mutant Rampage. If you have a CD-i player, please try them out. You'd better buy a cheap copy of Mutant Rampage rather than spending lots of money on the Zelda games though, because that is only meant for collector's sake.

It also crossed my mind how the popularity of CD-i would be if there were never any connections with Nintendo at all! Based on your search queries, most of you are looking for the Nintendo games. While I think Animation Magic was better of when releasing those games without Nintendo's fame, I think it does justice to the Mario games known on CD-i. Be with me or not, but Hotel Mario is a very decent game. And what to think about the great history of Super Mario's Wacky Worlds, a game what could have been the best on CD-i? What about the mystery we only know by name: Mario Takes America? Who knows what The Black Moon project will uncover in the next years...

So CD-i's popularity is based for quite a bit on Nintendo, I guess. It's what makes the system interesting for a lot of you. I agree, although there is so much more...


The CD-i Art of Niklas Malmqvist

>> Wednesday, December 6, 2006

We all know this great guy who was responsible for the great graphics design from the colourful CD-i games made by The Vision Factory, also known as SPC Vision. As a member of our forum he showed us great insight in the stuff he worked on, and this is only a part he did for the vision factory.

Where this all started? Many of the developers at The Vision Factory had their roots in the demo scene from Atari ST. Yes... many of the programmers and artists at SPC were old demo scene people. Like The Lost Boys, The Carebears, Omega and SOD. This is what 'Lost Boys' refers to on the credits of Alien Gate (and we thought it was a joke towards the known Lost Boys (Guerilla). Niklas was responsible for the graphics of the Carebears, known by Tanis. There are a couple of graphics around which I want to show you:

The background image used in Alien Gate (1991 - SPC)
The game over scene of the bar in Blockbuster, as a part of Golden Oldies 2 (1997 - SPC)
All the characters from Accelerator (1997 - SPC)
Flashback to Alien Gate (1991 - SPC)
The Alien Gate ship (1991 - SPC)
Reactor design from Steel machine (1993 - SPC)

The SPC game 'Lucky Luke' has a different history. Niklas started working on it in January 1994. He made the first batch of graphics for Lucky Luke the way it looks in its released form. However, before we got very far, Philips wanted the Lucky Luke game to look more than Zelda than your traditional horizontally scrolling game. So he started drawing a batch of graphics in that perspective instead. He never got very far on that before Philips (or SPC) cancelled the project completely. Unfortunately we don't have any graphics to show, maybe later ;)


Where CD-i discs were tested for bugs

>> Saturday, December 2, 2006

One month to go and it's 2007; which means it will be ten years ago the Philips Interactive Media Centre was transformed into a new company with the same name. The P for Philips only changed into Professional, so the testing facility is now called Proffesional Interactive Media Centre. The new PIMC went independant and settled in the Science Park in Diepenbeek. The old PIMC was the testing facility for Philips Media and tested CD-i discs as well as other formats like CD-ROMS and VCD's. In the years between 1997 and 2007 the company has built up more and more experience with testing multimedia products, still concentrated on Interactive Media on CD, DVD and flash tools (cell phones). Now the PIMC received a ISO 9001 certificate and it became a certified lab for USB2.0.

Still, the Philips link wasn't completely lost, and they both investigated in projects for consumer network appliances.

A member from our CD-i forum worked at the PIMC and shared a nice story about his time with Philips (unaltered, uncensored text): Testing was done at customer's request. We offered a couple of standard packages, like compatibility on a few players and cartridge/player combinations, input devices etc, or the full suite of all players etc... Sometimes customers wanted only a limited test, like "test those and those PAL players and pay only attention to sound". I remember the 220/40 having a bad rep with sound issues, swicthed channels or something...

Once a test came in, a coordinator was assigned and he checked basic functionality first - making sure we didn't schedule time and set up a team etc. only to discover the disc wouldn't make it past the bumper. Next, depending on the test, a test sheet was made. It stated what tests needed to be done (agreed with customer), a list of players, cartridges, input devices etc that got ticked off as each was tested.

Some basic tests were done on each player. For instance, if you could interrupt the bumper, did the disc continue if the bumper was interrupted or if you let it play (you'd be surprised how many discs actually had issues here, especially in the beginning), is a copyright message present, is it in the right language and is it the right message - Philips had strict rules on these messages, they had them prewritten. Studio's not dependant on Philips of course didn't have the same rules, and one had to pay attention for whom you were testing. Next input devices were all tested, making sure they were supported and on both inputs. Nasty bit, some input devices simple never worked on the back inputs, there were 2 types of mouse, and one wouldn't work on some players, and that sort of thing. Constantly needed to remember which combinations were not bugs but problems with devices or players. Gamepads even needed to be tested on all speed settings... ugh... Some cartridges always gave green flashes on some players. 905 and 205, some others, depended on the motherboard versions (sorry, no longer remember the tech details here) so those also had to be taken into account.

Then you had basic tech tests. We used an old 180 for some of them - had to put in an OS9 floppy and type some commands to load data from the disc then play it. Don't remember all the tests but they were for instance about audio warning messages - those things you get to hear when you popped in the disc in an audio CD player, that warn you to turn down volume or the next tracks will damage your speakers. These messages sometimes were incomplete, not clear, cut off, or not there at all.

Compatibility testing was all in all really routine and a bit of a drag - just playing the title on all players for a few hours, making sure all hotspots could be reached (sometimes the cursor wouldn't move over the entire screen, usually PAL/NTSC compatibility issue), checking if audio channels were not switched, making sure all types of input devices were covered, on both inputs (back and front), all cartridges, do the 605 test (various memory settings and a few other parameters in the 605 menu were changed, have to check on my 605 which, don't recall just now), do a safety area test for PAL and NTSC.

Now that last bit was really a bore Laughing You had to go through the entire disc and make sure no hotspots or crucial graphics or text were outside the safety area on the screen. We used an old Amiga 500 with a genlock for that - it overlaid the safety area boundaries on the screen. Calibrated of course with the attached 605.

Etc. etc...sorry if all this is kinda unstructured but I'm racking my brains to remember all this as I write it. We used to have a couple of sheets were all this stuff was listed and you ticked off boxes to indicate it was tested. A coordinator made sure all bases were covered and steered a team of testers, 1 to 10-15 people depending on the project.

Now full functionality test, that was fun. Especially when we were called in at the start of a title. I remember we were involved from the start with Chaos Control (another game I can still play in my sleep Smile ) . We had 10-12 people on that at the beginning. Playing it and trying to break it Laughing We had competition then from a test team in the USA, and we were trying to get more bugs in as they did. Kinda funny, we reported 20-30 a day in the beginning, they just a few. No contest really. Poor guys there were just students, not pro testers, so they missed a lot.

With these functionality tests all bugs were free game, with compatibiliy tests, if you found a small crack in the audio or some sync loss, no biggie, title was finished and only real bad issues were still accepted. The test only was supposed to cover compatibility after all. Which could yield some nasty surprises if a major incompatibility was found and fixing it would mean rewriting part of the code that could break other parts etc. Heads would shake at PIMC and mutter "serves you right.. we told you so, get testing team in from the start..." and that sort of thing.

We actually worked months on Chaos Control. Each time they thought they were final, we tickled out another bug. Often new ones, that didn't appear in previous versions . Was a big event when it was finally finished. Customer was happy even though it took so long. Send us a leather jacket with Chaos Control logo, which we had a lottery for amongst testers. I still think it was rigged and they wanted my old worn jacket thrown in the dustbin Laughing Still have it though, tough jacket

Things went downhill from there really, I think that was our last major - I mean really big - project. It quickly became clear studios had much smaller budgets, and demanded tests became smaller and cheaper. Less fun too. We saw the rain coming, so we started testing on PCs too (we already did testing on VCDs, as those for Philips/Polygram were actually made - menu's and encoding - at PIMC). Guess what. Had to test all those CDi games that made it to PC like Burn Cycle and Chaos Control AGAIN Rolling Eyes Since I now was the resident "senior expert" on those programs, most other testers had changed jobs...

Hmm, that really did become a novel, didn't it. As for your other questions, what bugs were most prevalent, I'm not sure. It's a bit too long ago, and I'd be going on my memories of my experiences, not at all a good overview of the entire test coverage.

Lots of detail issues: Philips insisted on particular texts and audio warnings, and those were often not OK. Issues with the bumper too. They changed the bumper at a certain point and forbade the use of the old one. Sometimes some controllers would not work because the title had no proper support for it. Lost of safety area issues (text out of bounds mostly, or hostpost out of bounds). Plenty of peculiar compatibility issues that sometimes took developers a bit to figure out. We sometimes had to lend out players to them (some portables have been around the world) so they could debug.

Plenty of audio cracks, hiss, noise, graphical glitches... quality issues really. Like a character in Secret Mission walking into a hut and seeing part of him through the hut graphics, that kind o stuff. Text errors... don't start me on those. If we were asked to test those we got scripts and had to locate each text and check it. If not specifically asked, we only reported them if we bumped in to them. And we bumped, a lot.

Just remembered, we also tested Dirty Disc messages. Language, correct message, but also that it worked i.e. that if something happened, you got a DD message and didn't just fell back to the shell. Plenty problems here too, weird non-standard messages, wrong languages, no message at all,...

Usability issues too. Philips wanted all titles to be playable with a remote. Ever try Chaos Control or The Apprentice or Flashback with one of those pressure sensitive remotes? We actually had to finish games with these, in order to prove it could be done, and report difficulties. Not that developers changed things much anyway Laughing Like those nasty controls in Flashback, having to be at a pixel-accurate location in order to make a jump ...I can still remember a very frustrated week between Xmas and New Year testing that @*&#&%@#$%

As for your last question, sorry. I'm sure I saw a few of those but don't remember them. We didn't really look what was in stores, that was old news for us. If you have a list somewhere, I can look if any title rings a bell or not.


Mario Takes America - CD-i

>> Friday, December 1, 2006

When Philips internally produced the famous Hotel Mario game for the CD-I, more companies were granted money in order to produce a CD-I game starring Nintendo’s greatest mascotte: Super Mario. This was quite an exclusive opportunity, as Nintendo would never license their characters to a perceived competitor. While The Black Moon Project covered “ The Lost Mario game ” being "Super Mario`s Wacky Worlds" in 2004, less is known about a Digital Video project called ‘Mario Takes America’. A Canadian investor named Howard Greenspan set up Cigam (Magic spelled backwards) Entertainment in Toronto. They talked a great story about Super Mario flying over the Statue of Liberty, travelling with dolphins over the ocean and more which has been highlighted in the UK CD-I Magazine once. The film crew even used a helicopter to shoot some of the more tricky sequences. These were the early days of Full Motion Video, so the development platform was not that stable in their defense. And while the concept was great, the execution was miserable. Other rumours include the mis-use of Nintendo’s Intellectual Property in the way how Mario was treated in the flight over America. The so-called ‘Edutainment’ concept should add a level of teaching about the American culture which should propagate the status of the USA immensely. However, this title was supposed to be the edge of ‘reality’ with a real silicon graphics Mario which should be the first outing of Mario in 3D ever! The game concept was nothing else than impressive but unfortunately none of this came to happening; after the bankruptcy of Cigam in 1994 all the golden plans for Mario were cancelled. Early clips where shown at the CDi 3 Conference in New York in October 1993.

Along with the likes of Viridis (Producer of Zelda’s Adventure on CD-I), Cigam existed of two very young developers who presented their own concept for a cd-i game to Philips Media Games. Philips was pretty excited, and granted them money to start on the project. Normally, companies were granted money after certain deadlines. But in this hard business, when Philips had confidence in a project, money was granted on forehand. Unfortunately, Cigam was one of those who just didn't meet any expectations in the end, and Philips had to cancel the project to prevent more money bleeding...

We will expand on the Nintendo titles on CD-I in one of the next columns or articles on The Black Moon Project .


CD-Imagine (1) - SimCity

>> Wednesday, November 29, 2006

There was a time a rumour was spread into the world Maxis was developing a specific conversion of the classic SimCity game to CD-i. I don't remember if this was told in CD-i Magazine, or somewhere else. However, in the end it turned out nothing more than just a rumour. But how great it would be! SimCity would be a unique genre on CD-i, the only similar game I can think of is a little bit of Earth Command being strategic but you really can't build anything. So it would be quite something! The SimCity games all appeared on the PC, a rare conversion was made to TV consoles, like the Super Famicom (SNES) and Amiga. In CD-Imagine, I'm going to let my thoughts fly to games I would have loved to see on CD-i. Games that, in my opinion, would have been possible to create. However, SimCity is a bit walking the edge because somehow I feel it would take up too much memory for the CD-i to handle it. Do you think SimCity would have been possible on CD-i?


Our CD-i World got a bit smaller in 2006 ...

>> Sunday, November 26, 2006

Last saturday member Jaffar commented something pretty interesting: "I finished my "work" about the history of consoles from a few days. Now I'm interested in a few consoles, which most attracted attention by searching for informations. And I don't know why, but the CD-i is interesting..."

A few days earlier I was looking for some different Retrogaming websites about other consoles besides CD-i, something just like The Black Moon project. My first stop was at the mother company: I was surprised almost all of them were not updated anymore, figured to be a half-ready archive about 3DO, Jaguar, Lynx and other exotic formats. Ofcourse, the emulation front is very active, but I don't mean sites like that. Apparently, CD-i is interesting! I'm also very happy with the current visitor counts this site holds, which is way higher than I predicted a year ago.

Still, the CD-i community is very small and unfortunately 2006 showed a few mis&hit situations. A while ago I asked you to vote for your favourite website, let's have a look what the results are now:

You won't get any trustfull statistics out of this, but it's a nice view of what interests the people here. Especially the high interest in the CD-i Collective is a pleasant notice. Ofcourse, Gir is still around but the site hasn't been updated for more than a year, but the reviews available are still full of insight and they give a very good perspective of the CD-i potential in the Retrogaming market.

Unfortunately, there are a couple of sites going down both. On first notice the new initiative of was very interesting, and they filled up a large gap in February 2006 with the upload of all the dutch CD-i magazines, the site is pretty much quiet since March. A big shame because the site has a lot of potential, and a good mind behind. I really hope initiator Mathias will come back soon and show us why CD-i is still a very interesting console!

With a slow sigh I have to say the same about Le Monde du CD-i. A lot of potential they have and a great archive of Screens and Movies you will find over here, unfortunately the site is full of promises that will never come true. The slogan "Keep the CD-i alive" is based on a lot of patient required from CD-i fans, who claim lazyness and non-support back and forth. It's a big pity they start a website and don't support it, only calling back with comments about being busy. A true shame, and I hope they will pick up the advice to expand their team with more enthusiasts to get the site running. The potential is definately there, but without some action this site will fade to gray before we know it.

Another wink goes to a yet unnamed new CD-i website which I hoped would launch this year, but unfortunately it wasn't ready at the time of writing. This is pretty hot stuff and it claims to be "THE MOST COMPLETE CD-I WEBSITE EVER! - OUR SITE WILL BE READY SOON, WE HAVE ALOT OF HUGE THINGS COMING YOUR WAY FROM THE WORLD OF CD-I SO CHECK BACK OFTEN!" - Keep your eyes on the forum and the blog and I'll promise you will be the first to know as soon as I'm allowed to!

CD-i enthusiast Terratron (also known as Arno Witkamp) also left the scene, leaving behind another high praised initiative: his CD-i Archive. Unfortunately it's down at the moment, and no sign is heard from him since he announced it a few months back.

Ofcourse, it's not all bad news. Oh no. How surprising and enjoyable it was when we all heard about the news Defunct Games was going to start a CD-i review archive.

Defunct is ofcourse the typical example of people trying to capture 'defunct' games and therefor reviewing CD-i games, while they've never played or seen the system before. True, we had a few comments about their first run of reviews, let me pick a few phrases:
"it's a shame how his ignorance determines his score for a game, now seriously when you claim this about Cartoon Carnival you either didn't play it or you didn't understand it: "The actual gameplay is, again, MIA. I've played some poor-quality titles on the CD-i these last few months, but this outshines them all in the worst way. The characters are slow and barely animated, and the objectives are hard to determine. Actually, I may have been incorrect in assuming these games even HAVE objectives. " - "Don't get me wrong, but I don't like any of his CD-i reviews. He don't seem to know much about the games he reviewed. Escape from CyberCity is a good example. Escape from CyberCity (aka Freedom Fighter) is just a conversion of the original LaserDisc game from 1984. His review is nonsense, as most of it is based on the wrong belief that the game was developed by Philips for the CD-i."

They ended up with a few weird scores, like 95% for Flashback and 5% for Micro Machines. You pick your own vote for how trustfull these numbers really are ...

Shame on you, Chad. For the rest, I love the fact they don't forget about the cd-i.

I like criticism, but not everyone does. I feel without it the retro scene slowly dies with copies and non original material. I will count on the CD-i scene as it is now, and Interactive Dreams will report all the highs and downs it will present in 2007. One thing I can assure you: We have a lot of stories ready to go!


Classic CD-i TV Commercial

>> Sunday, November 19, 2006


HDTV is even older than CD-i

>> Saturday, November 18, 2006

Even today HDTV is not a common standard while all the electronic giants want it to be so badly. Even before Philips started thinking about CD-i, HDTV was in a platform to investigate the possibilities of implementing this technique. CD-i was a long time in development before Philips released it to the market. Especially the Digital Video which was supposed to be a big hit for CD-i held several problems. One of the struggles was about HDTV. Ofcourse, the standard of regular TV sets kept them away of using this in CD-i, although "widescreen" television is a small left-over of how they would overcome the current TV standard with a higher quality. Speculation on a follow-up for the Digital Video Cartridge was a hot item, and while the drawing board had all the specifications, Philips had to cut costs and the CEO Boonstra didn't like CD-i at all.

It would have been possible to upgrade your CD-i player with a next-gen Digital Video Cartridge, and we all dream away with how the world would have looked if Philips used its power to make DVD-i their own baby.


Opening a Brand New CD-i Player !!

>> Saturday, November 11, 2006

Have you watched the videos at gamesites like Gamespot and IGN about the unpacking of their brand-new and just-arrived new Nintendo Wii and Playstation 3 console? I think they're awesome, but also a little too much. I don't think I've seen these kind of scenes at previous console launches. Let alone about the CD-i! Do you remember when the CD-i was launched?

I wish we'd captured some video material about unboxing a brand new CD-i. Like me, most people throw away the original box after a while, because it does only stack up place! However, watching these videos about the Wii and Playstation now makes me all drooling about a brand new console.

Shrink-wrapped controllers, the CD-i covered in polystyrene foam, all nicely fixed in the box.... The launch games were not really that spectacular; in fact we all got Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia for free included with the CD-i player here in Europe. So no game was included, stating the multimedia background CD-i was meant to be.

The most popular bet was the Burn:Cycle bundle of the 450 player, I also spotted a 7th Guest bundle. In this case only an extra sticker was attached to the box, instead of creating a totally awesome new box-art like we got with recent Xbox and Nintendo packages.

I still think that whenever you love the Nintendo, you should love the CD-i. My hope for CD-i always was an exclusive Zelda Pack, including the CD-i 450 and Zelda's Adventure. Hyping up the Nintendo license would benefit the popularity of CD-i, I think.

Please let me know if you have a CD-i in its original box; I would love to see some high res pictures!


Phillips CD-i !?

>> Monday, November 6, 2006

That's right, two LL's. This is one of the most common mistakes people make when looking for info about the CD-i system. A common mistake for US reader, a strange thing to European readers. How's that possible?

Ofcourse, you people from the US are fooled by the american Oil company Phillips. That's totally different. Please, remember Philips is nothing like Phillips and Google doesn't understand you when you're looking for info about Phillips CD-i. Don't get confused: It's Philips. Not Phillips. Please.

Confusingly enough Phillips the OIL company is also mistaken for Philips, so the whole package is complete. Philips is seen as Phillips, Phillips made the CD-i, right? What about Philips? Oh, that's Shell's rival. What?

Please remember it's Philips CD-i and Phillips Petroleum. Philips for one used the Magnavox brand for a reason!


Eureka from a Philips Point of View

>> Sunday, November 5, 2006

In one or more ways the CD-i reminds me of the good old Amiga days. Especially because of Philips's own POV Group which was formed from the famous Cinemaware, who used to be a fond Amiga producer. One of the major innovative titles for Amiga is highly underestimated on the Philips CD-i. I'm talking about "Defender of the Crown", a game which have seen many conversions including Amiga, NES, PC, Atari ST and Commodore 64. A little flashback to a game unequalled on the CD-i system.

Defender of the Crown was the very first title from Philips POV on the CD-i system. The game is situated in the Medieval days, you're a Lord and owner of a small piece of land. But the country itself is scattered.The king has been killed, and both nations accuse each other. To make things worse: the crown is also lost! Now it's your (including a little Robin Hood magic!) turn to re-unite the country and to find out what happened to the crown and who killed the king.

That's the story of this legendary game. The name "Defender of the Crown" will probably call up good memories of owners of the Amiga. Cinemaware was the first company utilizing the full capacity of the Amiga, and many gamers were jaw-dropping when experiencing the great graphics (at that time!): The letters in the title screen looked like pure gold, the knights and other people seems to really live and all and the movies were like a fairytale.

The PC conversion is far worse than the CD-i version (it was only EGA and capable of 16 colours) (CD-i version has 4096 colours, just like the Amiga version).

Defender of the Crown is a turn-based strategy game. the main screen shows the map of England, divided in provinces. the goal is to conquer them all. There are four characters to choose from, and your start position is based on this choice. You can buy catapults and soldiers, arrange your campagne army or plunder the castle of the enemy. As long as you conquer land, you gain more gold. There is also some random action of thieves taking your money. Using the gold wisely you'll have a lot of fun, at least I have! True, the CD-i version is a bit slow, but after you get the hang of the game, it's a unique blend which I've never seen on CD-i before.

In 1986 Cinemaware released Defender of the Crown on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and it revolutionized strategy/action games. Offering multiple gameplay aspects with both strategy and action elements, it became one of the classic games of the time. Jump ahead two decades and Cinemaware is back with Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown for the PlayStation 2. Now Cinemaware is an acquisition of one of the biggest budget labels: eGames. Still I hope the return of Cinemaware to the market means more returns of legendary games like Defender of the Crown.

OK, the CD-i version is not the best version around (go for Amiga) but the turn-based gameplay is unique on CD-i and very addicting once you get through the manual. The graphics are great and surpassing the Commodore and PC versions easily. Defender of the Crown was highly popular with Amiga fans, but unfortunately the CD-i version never catched on. Probably due to the fact it's a very first generation title, and the latter were often far better.

POV is the only production unit which still exist nowadays out of the Philips Media Family, known as Mass Media. Mass Media, Inc. is a privately held California corporation established to design and produce entertainment software. The executive offices are located at 357 Science Drive, Moorpark, California, 93021. The core group of Mass Media came together in the late 1980's at "Cinemaware". Cinemaware (Defender of the crown, wings etc..) is often credited with creating a new genre of computer gaming known as Interactive Films. In 1991 this group formed a production unit called Philips P.O.V. Entertainment Group for Philips Media. Over a four year period, Philips P.O.V. created 11 award winning titles for Philips Media, including VOYEUR, CAESARS WORLD OF BOXING, and THUNDER IN PARADISE INTERACTIVE. Mass Media left Philips in 1995 to be an exclusive developer for Time Warner Interactive. Following the break up of Time Warner Interactive, Mass Media has been an independent developer.


Discworld on CD-i : Lost forever?

>> Monday, October 23, 2006

Please, don't get your hopes up already. It's not we have found anything spectacular. I would cry if we did, really. You know Discworld? It rocks, especially because Philips announced a CD-i version back in 1995. Since that day I was drooling over the copyrights Psygnosis already managed to get in the official CD-i catalogue. After Philips redesigned the official CD-i catalogue early 1995, the title forecast was already pretty exciting because of two copyrights: Creature Shock and Discworld. I never understood why these games weren't available. Without the Internet as a prominent information source I could only imagine some regional differences. In the end, only Creature Shock was released in 1997 (three years of waiting!) but nobody was talking about Discworld anymore. I asked anyone I knew about it: The CD-i Gold Club didn't know anything. The Philips Hotline didn't know anything. CD-i Magazine didn't know anything. That was pretty much it.

Still, the whole Discworld topic may be something which kept me interested in the CD-i thing. Whatever happened there... Since that first time it took me years before I found out about the Black Moon Project. Even more, I never read any UK CD-i magazine issue simply because it wasn't available in the Netherlands. I was highly surprised to find out the UK CD-i magazine actually REVIEWED the CD-i version of Discworld. Yet, I was 100% convinced the CD-i version was about complete and ready, mainly because it was showcased in the Mega Pop Classics 1995 disc. Mind you, the cover on the top left is genuine, I didn't need to photoshop anything, that is the real cover.

But wait, by reviewing Discworld on CD-i, the UK CD-i magazine also started the biggest blunder in CD-i's history. In the footnote the deal was obvious but oh-so disappointing: "At the time of going to press, the CD-i version of Discworld was in the final (beta-testing) stages of development. We, therefore, had to use the PC version of the game for this review. According to our sources, though, both versions play identically, the only differences occuring in the speed of the game as a whole, and a few cut-backs in background animations on the CD-i version. If there's anything else we'll let you know."

Come on! What were they thinking? Even todays magazines would never get away with something like this! I couldn't believe they actually reviewed the PC version. Dear Mark Ramshaw, if you ever read this, please sign up and explain yourself. You have no idea what load of stir this caused in the world of CD-i, even 10 years after your review.

Yes, it's been ten years after the initial release. But there is no. Even no beta version. The Black Moon project has been able to retrieve more beta releases of games like Battle Chess, Voyeur II, Microcosm... But apparently Discworld is a different story. It's not that we didn't try. Far from that. The most easiest start to trace anything was ofcourse by contacting the formal developer: Teeny Weeny Games.

Apart from a vague statement from the original writer, this was a dead end. Still: "As far as I know, yes the game was completed, but Philips never published it." - That's quite a thought! It was certainly worth digging more and more... In the end the title was (going to be?) developed by TWG/PE (Perfect Entertainment) Sheffield and the closest contact with Philips should be Philips Interactive Media in Redhill, UK. Great, because the Philips Media business was shut down years ago.

Different people all have different things to say. Ofcourse we love the positive reactions like the game was actually finished. Claims about compression issues of the graphics and animation cut-downs are totally believable, but ofcourse on the contrary it was said Discworld was only in alpha-stage and non-existent. Still, I found it very interesting whether Teeny Weeny Games was actually contractually obliged in completing the game. That would mean some gold disc state should exist. Perhaps with the people of the old Philips testing facilities, perhaps with the original coders.

All of the contacts were very promising, but in the end the results are mediocre. Nobody was able to show anything of CD-i Discworld and all their memories were vague. Conclusion? We don't know if we'll ever find anything more of it but let me ask you gently, if you know anything about the CD-i version of Discworld, leave me a message. I'm highly interested.

On the left you see the thumbnails of the CD-i review pages which were published in UK CD-i magazine issue 18. Click on each to enlarge and enjoy the content.

Thanks to Devin and Merijn,


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

  © Interactive Dreams Version 5 by The Black Moon Project 2013

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