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Getting started with the CD-i Emulator

>> Monday, April 23, 2007

Emulating the CD-i is a complicated and difficult process. Luckily, there is only one working emulator available, which narrows things down a bit. In Retro Gamer Magazine CD-i Emulator was highlighted with a clever article about how to get the emulator working. I want to join in and show some help on emulating the CD-i. The unlimited version is available for a fee, but a limited version you can download for free to play CD-i games on your PC. Since September 2005, version 0.52 has been released to public which you can buy here. Let's have a look how to get the CD-i emulator working on your computer.

Step 1. Head over to http://www.cdiemu.org and click on the "downloads" link in the left sidebar. Click on "cdiemu-0.5.2.zip" to download CD-i Emulator version 0.5.2 (Limited edition). Yes, it's the limited version, which means it will only work for a period of time. But it's fully functional to play around with. This way you can make your decision if you want to purchase the full version, or stick with this one. Now extract all the files to a folder on your computer (I used "C:\cdiemu").

Step 2. Now we need a BIOS ROM. To answer the first question about "why this CD-i Emulator needs the internal BIOS system of an original CD-i player" in the first place, we head over to the author himself, cdifan: "It would be easier for users, of course, and in a sense more "elegant" [if the emulator wouldn't need the extra BIOS system]. There's between 300KB and 500KB of software in most CD-i players making up the CD-RTOS operating system and its drivers. Most of it is written in assembly language and thus very compact. It would need to be essentially rewritten for a ROM-less emulator and thus introduce a quite significant amount of extra work, in addition to all the work of emulating the CD-i player hardware that would still mostly need to be done. There are also compatibility and reliability issues. The software interface available to a CD-i title is large; most titles use only a small part of it, each in its own way. Debugging a CD-RTOS rewrite would thus be very costly and frustrating, each new title would probably expose new bugs. [Moreover,] using the ROMs guarantees the "real" CD-i experience. The software running inside your emulator is *completely* identical to what runs inside your player. As a fan of the platform, I find this very appealing."

Back to step 2. Legally the BIOS files can be obtained from your actual CD-i player, though various BIOS images are available if you search online, although we can't give any links due to legal reasons. If you are going down the route of downloading the BIOS directly from the CD-i player, you need a Null Modem cable. You can easily build one yourself by following the instructions on the CD-i emulator site, under CD-i Link, in "cdilink-0.5.2.zip", CD-i Link 0.5.2 executable and documentation. Ofcourse, you can also buy one online in the Black Moon CD-i Store, check the Hardware tab.

Step 3. Retrieving the BIOS using CD-i Link. Now it's time to connect your PC with the CD-i player by using the CD-i Null Modem Cable. Download the CD-i Link 0.52 from http://www.icdia.co.uk. Look for the link "PC/Windows Downloads" and head to CD-i Communication Tools. Or download it directly by clicking here. Unzip the CD-i Link to any directory. Now open the MS-DOS Command prompt and change directory to where you unzipped CD-i Link. Use the command "CD C:\cdilink" if you installed it directly on drive C:\. Execute the CD-i Link program to view all options available with the command "cdilink.exe".

Use the command "cdilink -roms" to start the upload. You will need to reboot the CD-i player to begin this process. When cdilink says "Waiting for stub", turn on your player. The program should recognize your player and start downloading the information, which it will write to a text file in the current directory. CD-i Link uses a 'stub' protocol which in some cases you need to use an actual CD-i disc containing the CDi_stub to initiate this program. The CD-i Stub Disc is available from the ICDIA as an ISO (download here). The process of uploading the CD-i ROM/BIOS can take up to several minutes to get the 512kb file so please be patient; the CD-i Link program will inform you when the procedure has finished. cdifan about the need of cdi_stub: "Most Philips CD-i players support a subset of the "stub" protocol called the download subset, consisting of just the messages needed to download data and/or programs into the player and execute programs or continue the player startup process. This subset can be used to download one of the full "stub" programs. For CD-i players without a download subset implementation an actual CD-i stub disc has to be used. A disc image of such a disc can be found in the Downloads section; it should work on any CD-i player with a serial port."

Step 4. See the results. When cdilink has finished the uploading process you should be left with the 512 kb ROM/BIOS file, named "cdixxx.rom" where the "xxx" stands for your CD-i player type. If you also have the Digital Video Cartridge" installed you'll notice cdilink has also downloaded a 256 kb file identified as "gmpega2.rom" or a similar name. You can ignore this file for now. As of today, the CD-i emulator does not support the Digital Video Cartridge, although it does support the 1 MB extra memory of it. (like used in The Apprentice). If you've installed the CD-i Emulator in the C:\cdiemu\ directory simply move the ROM/BIOS files into the rom folder (C:\cdiemu\rom\). The CD-i Emulator program should recognize the file automatically.

Please Note: If you didn't get passed Step 3: I suppose the CD-i Null Modem Cable is attached to Port 2 of the CD-i player and the Serial connection on your PC. However, the CD-i players from series 4xx and 5xx (450, 550, ...) lack the second controller port, requiring a CD-i splitter. Another issue is the phasing-out of the serial connection on PC's. Luckily you can buy a "USB to RS232" cable so you can use the USB port for this.

Step 5. Getting the CD-i Games. The CD-i Emulator does not support CD drive emulation. You need ISO files of the games you want to play. Most games can be extracted using programs like CDRWIN. However, some games are written in the so-called CD-i Ready format. Most programs can't handle this filesystem, which means you can't create an ISO of these titles. Fortunately CloneCD is capable of reading the "pregap mode 2 data" that is typical for CD-i Ready discs. However, you need a CD-ROM player which is capable of reading the disc in the first place. If CloneCD doesn't work, you should try a different CD-ROM player! In CloneCD, select the option for copying a "Game CD" and tick the boxes to "Read SubChannel Data" from both data and audio tracks. Then start the process to create an ISO. Check this link to see which titles are in CD-i Ready format.

Step 6. Getting started with CD-i Emulator. If you've installed the BIOS ROM in the rom folder of CD-i Emulator and you have ripped an ISO of your game of choice, you are ready to go. Execute the "wcdiemu" file to load the CD-i Emulator. Under "File", you can open the game ISO. Then click on the "Emulate" tab to start emulating. To optimize your experience, you might adjust the PAL to NTSC switch for superior screen size or faster emulation (Check "Options"). Have fun!

Thanks to: Black Moon Project, ICDIA, Retro Gamer, CD-i Emulator Home

13 reacties:

allemu000,  April 24, 2007 at 9:17 AM  

very helpful, thanks! Although it might be good to add a list with compatible titles, because not every game works with it! As you already said, Digital Video doesn't work. Games I got working: The Apprentice, Hotel Mario, Pac Panic, even Super Mario's Wacky Worlds works! Also had a go with Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon which seems to work fine. Any more?

Bas April 24, 2007 at 8:25 PM  

hello! Maybe this list is of help to you: http://www.cdiemu.org/site/titles.htm

The home of the CD-i Emulator offers a compatibility list of all titles tested. If you are able to test more, we are highly interested!

Gert-Jan,  April 26, 2007 at 11:28 AM  

great software---I hope more titles are compatible soon (please get it running burn:cycle!)

fleetmouse,  October 17, 2007 at 1:35 PM  

is version 0.52 the latest version around? please help me!

keesgirardin April 18, 2010 at 12:05 PM  

very confusing and i can't find a youtube tutorial =(

Bas April 18, 2010 at 2:12 PM  

Tell us what is confusing and we might be able to help you...!!

Swift October 23, 2012 at 7:42 PM  

Quick help needed... I am trying to play Mutant Rampage Bodyslam on this CDIEmu - and whenever I load the ISO file, the game itself brings up a message saying "The disk is dirty, clean it" and it refuses to load. Is this some copyright protection thing, or the disk the ISO was made of was indeed damaged, maybe?

Swift October 23, 2012 at 7:43 PM  

Please mail me back if you know a solution!

Bas October 24, 2012 at 6:45 AM  

Hi Swift,
That doesn't work because Mutant Rampage requires a Digital Video Cartridge and the CD-i Emulator doesn't dupport that (yet)

Swift October 24, 2012 at 8:15 PM  

Thanks Bas!

Know any other Emulators for CDI then? Or heck, I'd be equally glad if I found a way to be able to extract the ISO file and the sprites within. I'm looking for some reference art for some of the characters, and the best I found online were a few walkthrough videos in not too high resolution.

Anonymous,  March 6, 2013 at 5:43 AM  

Things to add to your emulator : the ability to map controls to, I dunno, a controller; the ability to take screenshots

Anonymous,  September 8, 2016 at 3:35 PM  

I can't run the apprentice in mess, hotel mario works great. Anyone could help me please?

Post a Comment

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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