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Philips CDi Appreciation Thread


Nathan Wind
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Told you Plan B was bad :hat:

I seem to have bought myself a CD-i. I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I've ended up with quite a decent little bundle featuring a CD-i 490, Mad Dog McCree with blaster, Tetris, Pac Panic, Chaos Control, 7th Guest, Steel Machine, Kether, Voyeur, Space Ace and err....Shallow Grave which they threw in a surprise treat. I'm actually quite interested to see what the video quality on movies is like. Anyway, it's been a stinking wet afternoon and I've been rained off work and this thing has been keeping me well entertained. I have to say, it's not as terrible as I was expecting it to be but I'm desperately in need of a gamepad which I will have sorted soon I hope! I haven't tried all the games yet but here are my thoughts so far.

Mad Dog McCree. I played this on Mega CD a very long time ago - I enjoyed it then, and I still quite enjoy it now. It's repetitive and simple, obviously, but it's fun and doesn't take itself seriously. The actors get stuck in and look like they're having a laugh. I suspect playing it with the revolver helps greatly. I can't imagine it being very good with the IR remote control.

Kether. I played this for half an hour or so and not once did I have a clue what was going on. It seems to be a weird mixture of super-basic on rails space flight, first person corridor wandering with a tiny bit of shooting and horrible visual puzzles (match pairs). Anyway, this one seemed a bit crap but I'll give it some more time when I can be arsed because from what I've read it's meant to be decent.

Steel Machine. Nice looking shooter! Take the metallic visuals of Xenon 2, the gameplay of Uridium and the map from Defender and surely you've got one amazing game, right? Almost. It has potential but it's almost unplayable without a gamepad so this will have to wait. The bombastic stadium house soundrtrack is a highlight - reminds me of Bomb the Bass or KLF.

Mutant Rampage. This also has potential but desperately needs a proper pad as playing a scrolling brawler on the IR remote is impossible. The graphics are great and the presentation is good fun, with the game set up as a televised combat spectacle from the future featuring an animated catroon presenter and interviews with various freakish fighters. This is one I'm looking forward to revisiting when my pad arrives!

Chaos Control. This was impressive. An on-rails shooter which has you flying around a futuristic New York blasting alien enemies. It looks great and plays super-smooth and is one I can genuinely see myself spending more time with.

Space Ace. I've never played one of these games before (yep, never played Dragons Lair). Amazing looking. Beautiful, in fact, but it seems shit to play. I found it incredibly unresponsive and frustrating.

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Umm....so...errr......let's all celebrate the Philips CD-i! YEAAAAH! :omg:

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I have a CD-I collection dating back to when Space Ace etc. could not be done well at home. Since DVD came out it's been stuck in the loft. Great conversions of FMV games, but all the proper games are a bit rubbish really. I have the revolver gun as well, and it's wildly inaccurate. As a retro curio it's interesting enough, but all the games are available on other formats, or not worth bothering with. Zelda's worth a look to see how bad it is before you stick it on ebay.

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My mate bought a CDi at the time for more than £500 because he was impressed with some golf game he saw running in a shop window. From what I remember it was basically a load of photos of a course and it gave you the nearest one to where your ball landed. It played awfully.

He also got this pinball game thrown in which was so bad me and another friend cried laughing playing it.

https://youtu.be/s02vywBRFQQ?t=1m4s

When I was at Tiertex another programmer had the job of converting Flashback to it. The hardware was so geared towards video that it was really hard to run something even as simple as that game on it. I don't know whether it ever got released.

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I was reading an iterview with one of the Steel Machine coders, Stephan Posthuma who came to the CD-i from the Atari ST demo scene. He now works at EA. He said that Philips basically had zero clue about games and zero support for developers - no assembler etc. so it all had to be done from scratch. He said it was a lot of fun to work on, but it sounded like a hell of a lot of hard work. Alien Gate and Steel Machine do have a "demo scene" feel about them. His company also did The Apprentice which is meant to be one of the few highlights on the system so they clearly had a good grasp of what it could do.

Interview is here - http://www.cdinteractive.co.uk/forums/cdinteractive/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=3031&sid=da6418d0f865cce964493320e0cb7b11

I still remember asking Phillips for an assembler and debugger so I could write low-level code. They had little clue what I meant so I was on my own. Those 68000 demo coding skills came in handy and a couple of weeks of late night hacking sessions later I had a sprite and scrolling engine going. I then wrote a very simple game around this, a shoot-them-up based on one of my old Commodore games called 'Alien Gate'. When I showed this to my boss he more or less fell off his chair and a week later we were sitting in an office at Phillips. The same reaction happened there and we walked out with a contract to do five games.

I knew how to proceed and hired some of my demo coding buddies like Tim Moss, Niklas Malmqvist and Dave Moss who was a talented musician. Alien Gate was our first project. Once we shipped our first title, things got a bit more involved, we set up a new company called SPC/Vision, hired a few more demo guys (Arjen Wagenaar, Luc Verhulst) and started a new set of projects. Arjen did Dimo's Quest, Tim and Luc Verhulst embarked on the highly ambitious Apprentice and Niklas and I did Steel Machine. The interesting thing is that these games were done very old-school. One coder, writing pure 68000 assembly and one artist. David Moss did all the music and that was it. I remember many long nights in the SPC office hacking away, playing Doom and having much fun.

Phillips never really understood what we were doing, I remember having one of their CD-i techs in our office, when I told him what I was planning to do he looked at me like I was crazy and said that he didn't think that was ever going to work. My memory is a bit vague, I had to find detailed info about the OS-9 operating system, find an assembler and debugger and go deep into the graphics hardware. It was very interesting where every scan line had its own little set of instructions that the graphics chip would execute before drawing the line. This included things like memory address and color set so it was very well suited for scrolling and other demo-like tricks. It also had a byte per pixel memory layout so I wrote a sprite engine that literally generated code to draw the sprites which was of course the fastest way of doing it. We tweaked that thing until it generated the most optimized 68000 code you could imagine. Years of demo coding certainly qualified us to do that.

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I paid around £500 for mine! I preferred it to the Jaguar and the Lynx, but apart from them it's the weakest console I've owned. I've still got one in the loft, picked it up for peanuts at a car boot (no recollection what happened to my original one) and I've barely used it.

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Jaguar, I love to death but I can fully understand why nobody else in the whole world does, but the Lynx....weak? Say what, now?

My gamepad arrived today. Not tried it yet but I'm quite looking forward to revisiting a couple of the games using it. Alien Gate came today too. It looks pretty cool.

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Oh god, don't.....I was looking at an N-Gage QD earlier :doh:

What I would like, after reading this months excellent Retro Gamer issue, is a PC Engine, but I need to read a PC Engine for Dummies type guide, because there seems to be approximately a bazillion different permutations of the things.

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Oh god, don't.....I was looking at an N-Gage QD earlier :doh:

What I would like, after reading this months excellent Retro Gamer issue, is a PC Engine, but I need to read a PC Engine for Dummies type guide, because there seems to be approximately a bazillion different permutations of the things.

PC Engine you say....

FullSizeRender%203_zpsqtnhg8xn.jpg

Think you need steering in the right direction after suffering both the Jaguar AND the cdi, this talk of getting a GX4000 is worrying :lol:

PM me your address :)

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I too have a penchant for failed hardware. The NGAge is actually surprisingly capable as is the Gizmondo.

As an aside the CDi is often used for interactive displays etc in stores e.g. Select from a range of make up shades etc in Boots. I suspect this was its primary purpose what with be clunky interface but strong fmv/video hardware etc so I suspect in many ways it wasn't the financial flop its failure as games hardware makes it perceived to be (if that makes sense)

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I too have a penchant for failed hardware. The NGAge is actually surprisingly capable as is the Gizmondo.

As an aside the CDi is often used for interactive displays etc in stores e.g. Select from a range of make up shades etc in Boots. I suspect this was its primary purpose what with be clunky interface but strong fmv/video hardware etc so I suspect in many ways it wasn't the financial flop its failure as games hardware makes it perceived to be (if that makes sense)

I find something oddly charming about the ones that didn't make it!

Regarding the N-Gage, I remember seeing someone playing Pathway to Glory on a bus once and being impressed!

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I played through Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 1 in its entirety during workplace bog-breaks. No mean feat when you consider the portrait screen is wholly unsuited for gaming.

At the time it was quite impressive for a phone, although in hindsight I probably should've flushed the machine when I was done as well.

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In a shock development, using a gamepad has not improved Space Ace or Alien Gate. They remain infuriating and borderline unplayable by any standards, let alone modern ones. Haven't tried it Mutant Rampage or Steel Machine yet. I still hold out some hope of those two being decent!

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Well I've only gone and bloody well found a CD-i game which isn't a pile of steaming turd! Told you! Told you we should all celebrate this amazing machine!

Mutant Rampage played on a pad is a pretty good scrolling fighter! As mentioned above, presentation is fun and the characters are well designed. Graphics and animation are good, with bold colours, nicely drawn backgrounds, big outlandish cartoon sprites and little pop-ups saying "BIFF", "POW!" and the like when strikes land. Play-wise it's pretty much par for the course with these sorts of games, with a jump button, an attack button and a special attack which steals away a little health each time you use it. Although being able to tag in teammates when your health/lives are low is a nice feature. You could argue it's derivative, and you'd be right, but the developers clearly put quite a lot of effort into making it a decent game. It would surely be lost amongst a crowd of similar games on other machines but it's definitely one worth playing on CD-i, at last!

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Oh god, don't.....I was looking at an N-Gage QD earlier :doh:

What I would like, after reading this months excellent Retro Gamer issue, is a PC Engine, but I need to read a PC Engine for Dummies type guide, because there seems to be approximately a bazillion different permutations of the things.

I've got a lovely Turbo Duo all boxed up FYI... ;)

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Ahh cool. Yea, I had a great collection of some of the rarer titles many moons ago, Castlevania etc, but I had to sell them when cash was tight :/

I think due to the cost of collecting for the PCE, once I've got it set up I'll get an Everdrive first and then slowly consider picking up the CD titles. This discussion should continue in the proper thread though...

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