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Rise of the Robots - CD-i Video Review

>> Monday, July 27, 2009

Great video footage and review of Pete Dabbs' Rise of the Robots for the CD-i. You might like the stories of the Digital Video version of this game and the interview with Pete as well, check out the links in the sidebar. Review courtesy of Sebastiaan. As most of you will agree, Rise of the Robots on CD-i is slow-paced and limited, something that is caused by the reason that it was converted from the amiga/pc versions which was already written inefficient, wasted RAM, didn't have the robots jump over each other and turn around etc. Pete wanted to write it from scratch but wasn't allowed to. Money, money... Philips wanted it to be a base case title so that it would reach a wider audience. Pete wanted to use the Digital Video Cartridge to enhance the game with more memory and better graphics. The miscommunication lead to a game which has an interesting history. The boxart still tells you it needs the DVC and according to memory tests it actually uses the extra memory, but it's the same game as when you play it on a CD-i player without a DVC installed. A little mystery to us...


The Black Moon Project relocation

>> Friday, July 17, 2009

Just a small update to inform visitors that The Black Moon Project will be relocating to the following URL...

At the moment it redirects to this website but it will become the final resting place for The Black Moon Project in a couple of months. Sadly the reason for the move is due to IGN cutting the hosting package that was offered freely during the reign of GameSpy and its network of gaming websites. We understand the reasons and remain grateful for the years of free hosting offered to our backwater website! Fortunately we have the resources to host the likes of The Black Moon Project these days without the aid of IGN/GameSpy. The principle reason it remained on IGN/GameSpy was the access to free hosting and the flood of links the project received thanks in part to its location on the network. Anyway, the cut-off date for hosting is the end of August by which time we hope to have fully operational!


Random CD-i Quote (5)

"Down in the Dumps...the CD-i version was cancelled as the French developer continually missed deadlines and the project did not develop with any world wide commericial appeal. It was decidely French in its humour and it would not have worked in the US. I liked the team and I liked the concept. Another issue on this titles was that the champion of the product internally "defected" and went to Virgin, so when the title lost its champion it was difficult to get back on track and the games designer had some real problems with the actual game design as well."


The Digital Video Cartridge was not only used to display FMV video

If you have a CD-i player without a Digital Video Cartridge extension you might wonder why some games actually need the Cartridge while it doesn't seem there is any full motion video in it. The Digital Video Cartridge was not only used to display FMV video. It had extra memory on board that is accessed during gameplay in some games like in Litil Divil (for example the moving backgrounds in the puzzles), Atlantis (for caching the levels), Creature Shock (for changing discs without losing power). That's what was supposed to be the case with Rise of the Robots which states it uses the Digital Video cartridge, and it actually uses the extra memory but it's hard tos ee where it was used for. There's a nice story of that you can read here.


Cd Tray Fix on the CD-i 470 and an Internal Look at the Machine

>> Thursday, July 16, 2009


Steve Hayes about his history at Philips Media Games (part 2)

>> Thursday, July 9, 2009

Many conversions were made with the likes of Flashback, Striker Pro, Litil Divil and a multitude of other titles what incentive made developers convert these games to CD-i?

Steve: Conversions weren't always easy and with the small market share most developers didn't want to tie up their 'A' class coders on doing CD-I conversions. But many games developers during the PMG period moved to being cross-platform development. Larger outfits were geared up with a lead development team who would then filter the core game engines developed on a lead platform to other less skilled (and cheaper) teams for porting and adaptation to other platforms. Honing the process; factory-like, it was possible to maximise profits per title across several conversions that could be released at the same time or close to. Sometimes the large developers on massive projects would get smaller development houses to do conversions for them. I remember working closely with Arc Developments on the CD-I conversion of US Gold's World Cup Golf and also Tiertex's Flashback conversion. Eventually doing a conversion on CD-I even smelt of profit one way or another. Initially though we played catch-up, converting titles that had previously been successful on other platforms. Lemmings for example, a sure-fire hit and eminently doable. I remember being sat in Psygnosis' office beside the Liverpool Docks and Ian Hetherington giving us his seminal view of the future boom and bust of the games industry and how a new platform ought to be pitched to the development community if ever it was going to make it. I remember him briefly giving us an overview of the Psygnosis business, the software development side, the publishing arm and most interestingly the tools development side, which he skimmed over far too quickly. I remember being left with an overriding sense that we didn't stand much of a chance. Small as we were though we were used to being told we were doing the impossible. It didn't stop us. Out of that first meeting with Psygnosis came the conversion of Lemmings to CD-I. It was actually done by the original developers DMA Design (aka Rockstar North). Another meeting that day was with Paul Finnegan of Rage Software. It was a pretty good day in that ultimately we also got us Striker (re-branded as Striker Pro) but for what ever reason (maybe the Rage programmer had blanched at the prospect of a CD-I conversion) Rage got paid for the rights allowing Philips to convert the title and I, through a circuitous route, ended up becoming its in-house producer at Philips' Freeland Studios in Dorking. With Striker Pro I went in deep, even arranging the screenshots, box art, instruction booklet, game cheats as well of course ensuring the game was completed and fully tested and the master 'Green disc' hand carried to the mastering facility in Hasselt, Belgium in order to hit the shelves before Christmas.

Why was Philips' main focus on existing intellectual properties for the games over original ideas and content?

Down to money I guess. An original title even back then could cost £100's of thousands if not £million+ if it was going to compete with every other publishers titles. In order to re-coup development spent and reap maximum profits, a title at that time would have to be released cross-platform. Whereas acquiring the rights to do a conversion would cost significantly less. Philips had reportedly spent whopping great sums already (WSJ Jun 28, 1996). But some original titles did get through such as Burn:Cycle and the little known Down in the Dumps from Haiku Studios. A title that never saw the 'light of day' as far as I'm aware involved us hiring The Roundhouse and converting it to a huge blue screen arena against which actors were filmed walking around and re-enacting fights on a massive blue treadmill. (ah Rotoscoping, happy days). I don't know what happened to that one sadly but I'd love to know. Cross-platform development on other consumer electronics manufacturers boxes was always going to be 'difficult' given where the parent company had wanted to be so the only palatable options were PC, which at the time was a hugely fragmented market and notoriously difficult to tap (and possibly the Mac).

A few high profile games were announced but never saw the light of day including Return to Cybercity, Microcosm, Litil Divil 2 and the eagerly anticipated Discworld. Were you involved in the negotiations to bring these games to CD-i? and if so do you have any anecdotes to share?

Steve: I wasn't involved much with games that originated out of the US so I can't comment on them but I recall Microcosm came from the Psygnosis' stable. Robin Keir gives more of an insight into what happened there than I could. Litil Divil 2, just like the first, was a massive undertaking by Gremlin Graphics Ireland. Sadly I'm not sure Gremlin Graphics Ireland was still in existence by the time they would have got around to doing the CD-I conversion. Discworld, I don't know as I left before the closure of the TCR office but I remember being at the Discworld launch for other formats at a club under the arches at Embankment and meeting Terry Pratchett.

Any anecdotes to share?

Steve: Other anecdotes...

Meeting the very pleasant Jez San for the first time and even before the age when '...everyone is always available...', taking a business card with all his numbers on plus about ten different email addresses.

Tasting my first Balti in Leamington Spa with Ashley Hogg (converted Micro Machines to CD-I) and his beloved Kathryn. Up until that point I didn't know what food was.

Chatting to John Mc Laughlin, the CD-I Lemmings coder at DMA, and hearing a chorus of "...Oh no's..." detonating in the background - straight from source, lovely!


Tetsuo Gaiden: Classic 2D shooting in a 3D world

>> Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tetsuo Gaiden is a space blast-fest of impressive proportions. Blast your way through wave after wave of aliens as you conquer your way through their home space. Can you and your battle-craft conquer through? Will it be a slaughter? It's all up to you... (Stop looking so worried!)

Usually, most shooters fall short of being entertaining. Happily, thats not the case with Gaiden. Fans of the classic arcade game Galaxian will be right at home here. However, they've taken it a step farther by making it an adventure with a scrolling FMV background, which is smooth scroll, and very cool with lots of activity, and really nice CGI rendered look. However, the actual game graphics layed over the FMV is just standard shooter fare, but thankfully does not get lost in the background.

The sound, ripped straight from the classic gaming days, is very crisp, and brings back the feeling from the old arcade fun. Control is pretty much dead on, but I really had the feeling that it needs more weapons. While gameplay is dead on, it's just not as deep as it could be.

Overall, a good shooter, and good fun for all ages. Though those who play alot of shooters may initally find it simple, it still has enough to keep even the most die-hard fan happy.


Did Memorex experiment with CD-i before or after they started with VIS?

>> Monday, July 6, 2009

Perhaps just a few of you remember that (Silicon Valley based) Memorex released a CD-i (buy for resale) version of the Philips 910/205 player in 1991/1992. Interesting because Memorex (at that time owned by Tandy, struggled with their Videogame console named VIS (Tandy Memorex Visual Information System (VIS) was an interactive, multimedia CD-ROM player produced by the Tandy Corporation starting in 1992. It was similar in function to the Philips CD-i. The VIS systems were sold only at Radio Shack, under the Memorex brand, both of which Tandy owned at the time.)

At one point the company was "Memorex Telex" as outlined in a dizzying tour-de-force of the development of disk drives, holding close lines with Philips who was producing home computers at that time. Memorex Telex N.V., a corporation based in The Netherlands, survived as an entity of the original Memorex until the middle 1990s[1]. Unisys spun out the media, communications and IBM end user sales and service organization as Memorex. Subsequently Memorex merged with Telex. The company evolved into a provider of information technology solutions. One of those solutions was to bring CD-i to places in the US as a OEM project. As far as I know the Memorex CD-i activities were limited to a OEM license. The fact Memorex standed out as a dutch company is a possible reason to expain the contacts with Philips.
One Question I'd like to know: Did Memorex experiment with CD-i before or after they decided to start with VIS? It's interesting to see Memorex was bidding on two horses: VIS was based on Windows and CD-ROM; CD-i was a direct competitor of CD-ROM. On the other hand, Philips also produced both CD-ROM and CD-i. It's too bad the history of Memorex and Philips seem to be faded on the Internet...


Q&A CD-i Emulator: Interest in particular titles? Wii port?

>> Sunday, July 5, 2009

A few questions to the author of CD-i Emulator.
What products were you involved in developing for the CD-i in its heyday? Do you have a particular interest in emulating those titles first?

"I'm glad you're appreciating the work done on CD-i Emulator; it seems to be somewhat out of fashion. I was involved in two main types of CD-i products: games and educational/professional titles. For several games I did some finish-up programming, but it was never really my area; my involvement was usually on the tech support side for these products (video playback, sound mixing, real-time process scheduling, reclaiming system memory, minimizing system calls, etc).
I did more or less the same for "Frog Feast", again.

On the educational/professional titles I did most of the CD-i programming for a number of titles, some of which I'm quite proud of for their technical achievements. There are also numerous products for which I performed the tech support role. I could list some names, but that would be telling...

I did use some of the above titles as principal testcases for CD-i Emulator; in the early phases of emulation it helped a lot to have a good knowledge of the inner workings of the title being emulated, because it would allow informed guesses as to where the problems where when something hung. Alas, some of "my" titles still don't work, mostly because of the somewhat missing cartridge support (my dev version has a skeleton emulation, but it's not enough yet for these titles). "

How compliant/compatable is Phillips 68000-like cpu compared to the Motorolla 68000 in the Sega Genesis? Besides being 6 or 7 kHz faster? Does it have the same instructions? or more?

"I don't know anything about the Sega Genesis, but I do know the the Philips 68070 CPU is almost a vanilla Motorola 68000, except in a few very dark corners (which the documentation warns against; the system is specified to have "a Motorola 68000 compatible CPU"). It has the same instructions except for a few housekeeping ones. "

I enjoy Wii Homebrew, and I believe the Wii is a proper system for official re releases of CD-i titles because of the Input output systems (and the controller.) Regarding the Wii, is it powerful enough to run your code? And how easy is it to port a CD-i title to another system? Are they any contractual conflicts in porting CD-i titles to other systems?

"Regarding the Wii, interesting that you should mention that. Some time ago I've had some talks with a publisher that was interested in porting CD-i Emulator to the several game platforms, including the Wii, but it didn't work out for various reasons. I think the Wii is powerful enough but it would have to be tested to know for sure.

Porting a CD-i title to another system can be very easy or very hard; it depends highly on the technical details of the title. CD-i video hardware does some exotic things that even modern graphics hardware doesn't, but it can all be emulated in software (as I've proved). The video emulation is actually the most cpu-intensive task of the emulation.

There are contractual conflicts; I believe the distribution rights for most CD-i titles are now owned by Infogrames / Atari. I have no idea what their current thoughts are on ports, whether authorized or even unauthorized. "


Chaos Control CD-i Video Review


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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