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Codemasters' CD-i projects

>> Saturday, June 30, 2007

Six months back Interactive Dreams published the first interview with the man behind Micro Machines: Ashely Hogg. Now, it's time for more! Ten years on and few British developers from the days of CD-i are still knocking around. With a few exceptions, most notably Codemasters. Affectionately known as the Codies they've seen through the rise and fall of many video game formats so it's hardly surprising they dabbled in Philips CD-i as well. Any questions you might think of are discussed including any other project Codemasters was considering to convert on the Philips CD-i. Read below some snapshots of this extensive interview or just click right ahead to The Black Moon Project to read the complete interview with Ashely Hogg.

After the multimedia angle hadn't exactly put a CD-i in every home, Philips started trying to get deals together to get larger name game titles ported to the system. Micro Machines and Codemasters were pretty big at the time so it wasn't a bad idea. [It] would be fairly simple from a code perspective, since CD-i had a 68000 series CPU and the Megadrive game had already been coded in 68000 assembler. Unfortunately, due to some rights problem [Codemasters] couldn't use that code. So the original NES 6502 assembler code [was used]. It wasn't the prettiest way to do it really, but time was likely to be short and at least it was methodical if not optimal. Philips had given us a useful base framework to get started with, as well as a development kit with [usefull tools]. During [Micro machines Codemasters was] talking about a couple of further projects. A conversion of Codies' Megadrive game Psycho Pinball was the most considered, and for a while there was talk of a deal to do a conversion of Theme Park. In the end though the budgets were never going to be big. Psycho Pinball developed by Codemasters and published by Philips for PC CD-ROM seemed the perfect conversion candiate to CD-i. However with the decline of CD-i during this games release around 1995 it's easy to understand why they never forged ahead with the project.

Ashley Hogg was interviewed by Devin

With many thanks to Ash for answering our questions, long live the Codies!

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ICOM Simulations: Deja Vu, Shadowgate; 'CD-i was uninvited'

>> Thursday, June 28, 2007

I've seen these ICOM point and click adventures coming up several times over the course of my love for the CDi. (I even remember seeing the game in "coming soon" format in one of the catalogs when I bought my original system, thinking how great it would be, since I loved the original version on the NES.) I keep hearing people say different answers to the question, "Was it ever released on CD-i". The ICOM titles remain a mystery to CD-i, as far as I know nobody has ever seen it on CD-i. There are only rumours and references in CD-i Magazines, and hunting down some old ICOM members is still on the agenda, so who knows! Deja Vu, Uninvited and Shadowgate; These games were called the ICOM Trilogy. Shadowgate was by far the best title of the series IMHO. These games are also available for the NES. How I wish these games were ported to the CD-I.

As far as I know shadowgate was never released. It did come from the same publisher as the Deja Vu games (ICOM) and seems to be the same genre/kind of game.. The Deja Vu games were announced several times, possibly even developed, but as far as I know never published. Same could be true for shadowgate.. Most of the CD-i information available on the net besides this close knit community of websites tends to be completely wrong and outdated. However, always the chance that this game may have been developed for CD-i at some point. It certainly warrants further investigation in anycase!!



Still there were lot of rumors surrounding those ICOM/Mindscape adventures coming to CDi. Deja Vu 1&2, Uninvited, Shadowgate all have been rumored to come to CDi. Same style games, same publisher, loads of rumors.. and Deja Vu and Uninvited were even listed in the Philips CDi catalogue, same as CDi magazine! They couldn't be cancelled due to technical difficulties, because the core engine was baded on a very simple text based adventure, with very simple graphics. The most believable reason for cancelling would be the transfer of ICOM to Viacom, who changed the publishing scheme due to licensing or royalties.



Shadowgate: It was one of the best ICOM games. It is essentially a text adventure with still images of each room in the castle. You play Jair, a brave knight who has been sent to Castle Shadowgate to stop the evil Wizard from completing his spell of destruction. You really just have to play the game to understand. It is easily available on the net as a rom for the Nintendo entertainment System via NES emulators. I could just imagine a CD-i version with beautifully rendered backgrounds and a CD quality soundtrack.

Uninvited: Another game using the graphical adventure interface found in Deja Vu and Shadowgate, Uninvited comes with a "horror" theme. While driving on a lonely road at night, a strange figure blocks your vision causing you to swerve and crash your car. When you regain consciousness, you find that your sister is missing. The only place she could have gone is a creepy old mansion which looms in front of you. With nowhere else to go, you enter the mansion in search of your sister. It turns out the mansion once belonged to an old wizard and his apprentice, and somehow it has become infested with the Undead.

Don't hold your hands up believing ICOM was developing 5 cd-i games with none of them being released in the end. Perhaps they were on the drawing board or one of them got into some development time. These base-case titles should be relatively easy to convert, but in the end - well who knows... I don't believe in any shadowgate proto.

Merijn found this old bit of info by a CDi tester:"I know nothing about Rocket Ranger but I do remember the others. Dark Castle was an early release and was a port from the Mac I spent hundreds of hours testing this title. Deja Vu and Uninvited were also mac ports but they were early Mac games, back when the Mac was a 9 inch black and white monitor. These games were designed for that format and worked well, but they looked like crap on CD-i, what looked ok on a 9 inch screen didn't translate well to a 20 inch TV set in color. From what I remember it came into test for documentation, the documentor complained about it, the engineer who put it together refused to do any more work on these two (I believe it was the same person who did Dark Castle), he was already too burned out from making all the fixes to Dark Castle so the two projects (Deja Vu and Uninvited) was killed off without ever being tested."



ICOM Simulations was formed in the early 1980s by Tod Zipnick. With the MacVenture series, ICOM pioneered the point-and-click adventure interface and later multiplatform CD-ROM development with Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective. The company was acquired in 1993 by Viacom New Media which closed its operations in 1997. Renamed to Rabid Entertainment, VNM/ICOM was dismantled in 1998. The rights to ICOM's game portfolio is currently held by the company Infinite Ventures.

As you can see in the catalogue scan below, both Uninvited and Deja Vu were listed in the Philips Media CD-i catalogue:



Screenshots taken by the PC version (Interesting details about the graphics being polished a lot, if you compare them with the 1987 originals on the NES. Who knows what kind of color pallet was going to be used in a possible CD-i game...)

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John Dark - Psychic Eye / Unknown CapDisc CD-i

>> Wednesday, June 27, 2007

After the Nintendo licensed games starring Link and Zelda on CD-i, Animation Magic produced Mutant Rampage: Bodyslam. Mutant rampage was running on an improved engine that was used for Link: The faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. After Mutant Rampage, another game was on the shelf at Animation Magic, going strong with the name "John Dark - Psychic Eye". Shortly after the introduction, Animation was took over by CapDisc, another well established CD-i developer. Unfortunately, CD-i was going down around 1995 as well, and CapDisc never took the job of finishing this promising CD-i game. Merijn talked to a former developer who worked on John Dark - Psychic Eye.

"John dark" was one of the last things I worked on there. I started writing a little sorta intro story for that, but got laid off in the grand restructuring before I finished, I think. I remember seeing some of the animation they'd done for that sometime later when I dropped by the office to visit the folks who were still left.

I don't really remember even what sort of game it was - I think there were both puzzle and fighting elements to it. I'm still indirectly in touch with some of the other CapDisc folks, so I'll pass the request along.

Actually, the "grand restructuring" is an interesting story, in case you don't already know it. In early '95, CapDisc merged with a company that had most of their staff in St. Petersburg, Russia. The people there got paid a fraction of what we did. Our management figured that we were all pretty interchangeable, and laid off half of us.

The first sign that they'd made a mistake was that they had to hire back a bunch of people as contractors to finish the projects they were working on. The second sign was that most of us were immediately hired by their competition. The third was that, a few weeks later, half of the remaining people quit because all of their friends had been fired. They hired a bunch of new people to fill in the gaps, but they had lost a lot of expertise. On top of that, I heard that coordinating with the folks in Russia didn't go quite as smoothly as they had hoped. The company went down the tubes about a year later.


As i read here this title was on the shelves at Animation Magic (Link, Zelda and Mutant Rampage). In 1995 Capdisc took over Animation Magic. So yes, very little information is known about this project. Any help appreciated!

Credits to Merijn, our unreleased-cdi-detective ;)

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CD-Imagine (7) - Heart of Darkness

>> Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Heart of Darkness must have been in development for a gazillion years... delay after delay... According to a tester at Philips some work was done on the cd-i version, but he said thats only what he had heard. It never came in for testing, suggesting it didn't get very far.. However, Heart of Darkness was one of the triple contract titles Philips signed with Virgin, along with Creature Shock and Lost eden. thankfully, the latter two were actually released on CD-i, but something happened along the trail of development with Heart of Darkness. A spokeperson from Virgin has some very interesting insights: Heart of Darkness had been in development for over four years for both cd-i and cd-rom. The game was being developed by Amazing Studio under a publishing agreement with Virgin. After a lot of dead-lines and hundreds of thousands of dollars in development costs, Philips cut the money-flow and sold the project to Sega. Sega planned Heart of Darkness to be a killer-app for their Saturn console.

A spokeperson: "In today's volatile computer gaming industry, it may often take a game a really long time to reach the software store shelves. In recent months I have witnessed numerous occasions when right at the time a game is ready to ship, the distributor has financial woes and either disintegrates or sells off the title or both. Often such a change leads to months or even years of delay as a new distributor is found and the game needs to be reshaped to suit its new masters.

Such is the history of Heart of Darkness, a game that took its name from the famous Joseph Conrad novel to which it bears little resemblance. First announced way back in 1992, in 1993 it began to take shape through the efforts of the French Amazing Studio, best know for the sleeper hit Out of This World. Originally destined for distribution through Virgin Interactive, in early 1997 the deal fell apart, and now it is finally being distributed by Interplay for both the PC and Playstation. I checked back to compare the game features and specifications from the planned Virgin release, and discovered with some surprise that it looks like nothing major has been changed, added, or enhanced since then. For most games, standing still for a couple of years would be the kiss of death in the rapidly changing gaming marketplace.

But Heart of Darkness is not like most games. Although at its core a platform game, it really aspires to be an interactive movie. While in the last couple of years we have witnessed some real classics in the side-scrolling platform genre, especially Monolith's Claw, Epic MegaGame's Jazz Jackrabbit 2, and GT Interactive's Oddworld, none has as lofty hopes for its impact on the gaming consumer as does Heart of Darkness."
When I look at the final Playstation version, I can imagine this was technically too high for CD-i, but I've been surprised more times about what is possible with CD-i, like in Creature Shock and Atlantis: The Last resort.

"In the strictest technical sense, Heart of Darkness is not a side-scroller in the manner of most of these typical platform games. In side-scrollers, when you get toward the right or left of a play screen, the vista expands so that you can move further in the direction you are going. In Heart of Darkness, in contrast, when you get toward the edge of a screen a whole new screen appears. So the challenges you face are very much the "overcome-the-difficulty-immediately-facing-you" variety, allowing you to approach the game tactically one hurdle at a time."

Please note: the screenshots are taken from the Sony Playstation version.

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www.philipscd-i.com / too good to be true?

>> Monday, June 25, 2007

Just when you thought some major collectors like Captain_J would add a part to the CD-i community, it all fell apart now he sells off his complete collection on eBay. The potential Captain_J (known as joe) had was in the line what I expected from Oldergames. That same dream vapoured when also Oldergames silently sold his CD-i development tools on eBay. Now Captain_J seems like doing the same. More the pity is the lost chance of his own CD-i project, going strong by philipscd-i.com? (not to be confused with Philipscdi.com by Mathias ;)!)

It was no secret Captain_J was working on Philipscd-i.com. Posted at Digital Press and traceable by Google, A year ago we were informed about the new plans, and were eagerly waiting for some action. Now that he is stopping collecting, and the dream of this new website is over, I hope it's not too late to highlight his potential. Any enthusiast would be able to find it using Google or Digital Press, by the way. Asking a whopping 40.000 dollars, I can't imagine anyone will ever pay that, although the collection he offers is huge. I was particularly interested in the CD-i stuff, but I've never seen a lot unless a complete title library he got from PMPRO. The goodies PMPRO left are also nice, like the mug and the belt bag you can see on this picture below.

However, there were a few things going on last year which made me excited about the plans of Captain_J. First of all, he is the one claiming on Digital Press he found the much-sought-after 30 minutes long CD-i Infomercial of the "Meaning of Life". Even more exciting, he was preparing his very own CD-i website yet unknown to the community. The infomercial was going to be a hot item to promote this, as well as his other promotional articles about CD-i. All very nice, but now it seems this dream is over. The hosting is still on but the website hasn't been touched for a year.

Another loss for CD-i, I hope Captain_J will change his mind and start his work on that CD-i website, please visit the link and send him an email to convince him. That's all we can do...

Captain_J about the CD-i Infomercial: "in the early 1990's when the philips cd-i came out there was an infomercial that they used to play (remember those middle of the night informercials at 3 in the morning when nothing was on?) late at night for the cd-i. it was about a half hour to an hour and it was just a man sitting in a dark room with a cd-i and a "god" voice talking about the "meaning of life" being the cd-i (which is what insiders call the infomercial). it basically shows him various cd-i titles and convinces him to buy one."



About his CD-i stuff (picture above): "that little stack above the french language box sets are a bunch of my rare demos and kiosk discs but my prize posessions are my orginal us retailers cd-i press kit with disc and of course my Super Mario Wacky Worlds prototype! this is just a small shot with two systems and some pmpro stuff they gave me when they went out of business. i own every model of cd-i ever made and my favorite are my brand new in the original shipping box cdi model 602 and my near brand new cdi 180/181/182"

I suppose it wasn't him posting the anonymous comment yesterday about "Keep the CD-i alive". It's a line I remember from Terratron saying every year, but also Terratron is not working on his CD-i technical archive anymore. Some good news to end with? At least Philipscdi.com (only differs one line from Captain_J's website) from Mathias is preparing some cool stuff!

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CD-i Arcade Conversions

>> Sunday, June 24, 2007

Euro Disneyland has its own videodrome demonstarting all kinds of videogames. For some time, they had an Arcade type Conversion of The Apprentice!! Very cool, but the question remains: how did it look? Was it a special version as in the sofware of the game itself or simply the hardware setup? We got a few pictures of how CD-i was used in Arcade units, the so-called Jammaboards. This is something different than the usual Kiosk system that Philips used to promote CD-i in several stores to the main public. How does it work? It translates the arcade buttons to a cd-i controller format and there's a small audio amplifier onboard. There's also a security option in the ROM so that the title does not run without the board attached. You could also take apart a CD-i controller and hook up some arcade controls instead of the normal buttons. If you don't have any specific titles which won't run without such a board, cannibalizing a controller would be the best option.



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The Black Moon Project: Streamlined

Ofcourse, the recent relocation wasn't really just about the change of URL, this was actually a good opportunity to clean up the webcode, making the website ready for the coming years. Reacting faster than ever before, it's some sort of a new start: Nice to see the Gamelist idea introduced by Interactive Dreams is now integrated in The Black Moon Project as well. With one difference, that one is actually working with links ;) - The left sidebar is gone, which is simplifying the website with one navigation bar at the top, which is always available. New content expected soon!

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CD-i Player Compatibility Issues: Can you update the firmware?

>> Saturday, June 23, 2007

Doing all the updates for the Black Moon Games Archive with a portable Philips CD-i 370 Player made me realise how many bugs are present between players! I've never noticed these on a basic 210 model and they only seem to be apparent on the 370. For example the introduction sequences to Master Labyrinth which uses Digital Video has two jagged green lines across the bottom of the screen whilst playing. I assumed it may have been the disc so made a copy and the same thing happened. Played it on my 210, no problem. Might be an idea to list these issues between player models for reference.

There are more games having compatibility problems with different CD-i Players. An example is the story about how often 'The Lost Ride' crashes on a certain player, this appears to vary on different models as well!! The first batch of 'The 7th Guest' has a play-back issue on the 4xx and 5xx series of cd-i players. Newer versions were pressed in video-cd jewel cases. Lost Eden has a bug on the early versions on 2xx series of cd-i players (you recognize these with 'compact disc interactive' on the bottom of the box-art instead of 'digital video on cd-i' (second batch). Pac-Panic has a big play-back issue after playing cd-ready formats. Try to play a cd-ready disc and play Pac-Panic after it without resetting (=turning off) the player.

cdifan: "Several early titles had problems on second-generation players, as these used a different memory layout. Quite a lot of titles had problems on the so-called "Mono-II" players (210/20 and 220/40) because there where some nasty bugs in the CD drivers of these players. The 450 players had similar problems in the CD drive mechanism. Some of this is in the "player release notes" that Philips sometimes supplied to CD-i developers, but the rest is from hard experience in getting CD-i titles to run on all players. This was often the most painful part of developing a CD-i title, as there were a number of obscure driver bugs in the various players. Many of the newer titles in fact ship with replacement drivers for some player models..."

I've noticed drivers on some of the later releases such as Creature Shock and Atlantis - The Last Resort. I wonder if this firmware update has ever gone wrong and destroyed a CD-i player? It replaces the driver in memory, and not in the ROM. The CDi's ROMs were, well, ROMs, and not flash, so they couldn't be updated. cdifan: "You can see the driver files on the cd with IsoBuster. They are just plain data files that start with the OS9 module signature 4AFC; if you extract them from the disc you can use the "ident" program (comes with the Microware C compiler) to get a list of the modules in them. If these have module type "driver" you've found a driver! A while ago I've catalogued all the driver versions that I could find on my CD-i discs, and it was quite a collection: for some players there where several different driver updates. The replacement drivers, like the originals, are all hardware-specific and were written by Philips and/or their contractors. Philips delivered these to CD-i developers with sample source code for player model detection and driver installation, usually based on module CRC values known to be unique across the entire player base."

"Most CD-i players have no ROM-update mechanism as far as I know, although I believe some of the later 6xx models have a feature to run a "patch" from NVRAM, however. But it would be possible to run an "update" disc just before starting the game, that would keep the updated drivers in RAM. However, this supposes that you know *how* to make the player compatible with the game. Blindly replacing drivers is unlikely to help; some knowledge of the source of the incompatibility is needed. In many cases this would require debugging and involvement of the game and/or player developers..."

Question: If you download a ROM using the null-modem cable, and you replace certain drivers from (newer) cd-i titles, will your ROM (emulator) be likely to play more cd-i titles...(be more compatible)? cdifan: "Theoretically: yes, but in practice... I know from direct experience and some rumours that in some cases there is no "best" driver for a particular player; the various versions may have different bugs fixed and some titles may work around some bugs, but not others. Not all of the drivers are suitable for direct ROM replacement; in some cases a special installation procedure is also needed. So it's a complex issue. Technically it might be possible to replace the shell (it is supposedly just a built-in CD-i application) but it would be considerably more involved then just "replacing" the ROMs:

1. You would need to build a ROM image with the old drivers but a new shell (an exercise in OS-9 module extraction and concatenation).

2. The ROM image needs to be burned into actual ROMs (not very hard if you have the equipment, but how many people do?).

3. The ROMs need to be physically replaced on the CD-i mainboard. This probably means desoldering the old ones first, unless you use "piggyback" tricks (putting one on top of the other and disabling the old ones by cutting the "select" pins).

And there may be version dependencies in the shell program as well... If you really want to do this I would heartily recommend testing the ROM image with CD-i Emulator first!


Thanks to cdifan (the author of CD-i Emulator), Pictures by Freetime Web Electronics and ICDIA.

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Myst : a classic also ported to CD-i

>> Wednesday, June 20, 2007

There are a few games in the past which caused some major changes in the games industry. One of these revolutionary games is Myst: a first person adventure using a point and click interface. It started in 1990, when founders and brothers Robyn and Rand Miller started Cyan. This software company first focussed on children titles, but in 1993 they released the project Myst on the Apple Macintosh. Myst became very very popular and more than 11 million copies were sold. No wonder Philips wanted a CD-i version. In 1996, we got one. Myst was ported to CD-i and Ledge Multimedia was responsible for the conversion.

Facts:
Originally produced by: Cyan
Converted by: Ledge Multimedia
Publisher: Philips Media Games
Release: 1996
Genre: First Person Point & Click Adventure
Review date: June 2007
DVC Required: No!
Recommended: Mouse/Trackball/Roller Controller
Extra: no multiplayer, age rating: >7

Myst consists mainly of stills creating a beautifully 3D drawn world with a small movie once in a while. The essence in Myst is to solve puzzles. There are no enemies, no power-ups, nothing like that. In Myst, you play as "Stranger", and you find a mysterious book. You start reading, and when you touch the very last page, something strange happens. You're being transported to the virtual world described in the book. You don't know how you got there, or what you have to do. Soon enough you find other buildings on the island, all with strange mysterious powers. Without spoiling too much of the story, I can tell you will find other books like this, and you are able to transport to other islands (called "Ages" in Myst).

The CD-i version hasn't lost anything of its charme. Everything in the game shows its peace. Everything is quiet here. In fact, this is one of the few games you won't even notice the CD-i is a slow console. It all adds to the atmosphere in the game. After arriving on the unknown island, all you hear are some background sounds and you're able to walk around. Using the mouse cursor on screen you click where you want to go, and the next screen is loaded. True, while wandering around you see you're not actually walking, but instead everytime you click another image is loaded. Myst looks like a slideshow, something borrowed by the CD-i game "L'Ange et le Demon". Check out the official promotional video of Myst on CD-i provided by Philips:



While walking around the island you'll discover all kinds of buttons and letters are lying around. Slowly it seems a guy named Atrus is able to visit different kinds of locations (Ages) by means of books and machines. But, something has gone terribly wrong here. There's a library on the island and when you get here, you will be able to read several books about the history of Myst. There are a few movies here introducing the sons of Atrus to you. You are asked to solve the puzzles of every Age and find the way to travel to the other Ages. In every Age there are a few pages of the books, unraveling new information to unlock new islands and puzzles.

The puzzles in Myst are vague to say the least en you'll need a good memory to solve everything. So it's wise to write down everything you see and find out.

The graphics of the CD-i version are ported from the PC version and look pretty much the same as the original. As I said, the CD-i is rather slow and it takes a few seconds to load the next screen. But, in my opinion, Myst is not a game that needs to be fast. Myst works perfectly on CD-i and you'll have a great time exploring and puzzling around. The game is much harder to solve than, say, The 7th Guest, but I find the story far more intruiging. Be warned you're going to read a lot of text in the game but the rewarding game story easily makes up for it.

Ledge Multimedia did a fantastic job converting Myst on CD-i and the version is a "raw" one of the original. The game plays slower than the PC, but I didn't expect anything else. The slide screens are enhanced with an anmiation which can be skipped but it's not spectacular. If you love puzzle games and love intruiging 3D worlds, than Myst is for you. But, considering Myst has been ported to virtually every console that's been released, chances are high you already played it ;)

A little rare on CD-i as well, if you can track down a copy I highly recommend you doing so.

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The 'Don Bluth presents Space Ace CD-i' button

>> Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A little addition to the picture gallery with this Space Ace CD-i button provided by CD-i member Thomas. I love little collectibles like this one, like the other 'pins' this is not a very common item. promoting the release of Space Ace on CD-i, this button was attached to the UK edition of CDi magazine Issue 5 in a little plastic packet. I can't remember we've had it here in the Netherlands as well... Along with the Burn:Cycle keyhanger this is the second Philips game being promoted with a little extra like this. After the great pictures I posted yesterday, this should have been within. A little bit of trivia: Did you know this game was originally made in 1983? As you started a new game, you were given the option of different skill levels. "Space Cadet", "Space Captain", and "Space Ace" were your choices. The "Cadet" version, being the easiest, skipped about half of the animation for the game. The "Captain" version gave some more of the animation. The "Ace" version included all the animation on the laser disc.

For the animation of Space Ace, models were made of Ace's Starship and his motorcycle. They were then filmed, traced over, and painted. They also built a large scale tunnel so a camera could move through it for the dogfight sequence. Once again, to keep the cost down, they decided not to hire professional voice actors. Instead they all pitched in and did the voices themselves. Animator, Jeff Etter was the voice of Ace and storyman / animator Will Finn was the voice of Dexter. Animator, Lorna Pomeroy (wife of Co-Producer, John Pomeroy) was the voice of Kimmy and Don Bluth was the voice of Borf. The narrator was Michael Rye and the musical score was created by Christopher Stone.

In 1991, the Leland Corp. re-released Space Ace as a conversion kit for Dragon's Lair II. This version was a little different because they added diagonal moves in quite a few places which made it a bit harder to play. Also, the "cadet" and "captain" skill levels were dropped so you could only play the "Ace" skill level.

Thanks to Thomas. Trivia bits by The Dragon's Lair Project.

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A very special CD-i collection

>> Monday, June 18, 2007

You won't come across a special CD-i collection often like I did last weekend. CD-i forum member "List" hinted at the Videopac Forum where I found out about Steelballs & Jansen, a website about the Philips Videopac and Odyssey now including a CD-i section. How cool, because I've just discovered some very special CD-i items there, which I can't let unnoticed. Have a look below as Interactive Dreams ofcourse saves everything for our CD-i archive including promotional material about CD-i! "Having completed my European videopac collection, I was left wondering what to focus on next. I am constantly busy with most of the systems I collect, but normally I go through periods of putting more energy into a particular system. Why the cd-i? Well I had a reasonable collection of cd-i goodies and the system always interested me due the fact that it wasn't purely a games console. I know that the majority of people find the cd-i far from a games console, and as far as the majority of titles go, I would have to agree, but as far as the hardware goes there is enough variety for me to justify collecting it. This coupled with the fact that my new neighbour used to work for Philips and kindly donated some very welcome items to my collection."

I wanted to save this information for a little later, but now the link is available more CD-i fans will find it anyway. All credits to steelballs and check out his website for more stuff! The top right image is about some official CD-i paperclips, stored in a plastic holder with the same logo as from a CD-i demonstration disc "You can do it all with Philips CD-i". Click on each picture to view the image in high resolution.



Here you see a picture of the official carrying case of the portable Philips CD-i 350 player. A protective hardcase, perfectly made to fit the CD-i portable. Not as small as the Sony IVO-V11 CD-i, still a very nice piece of hardware.



The professional CD-i 180/181 stack we've seen before, but I was particularly interested in the CD-interactive cap on top. I've never seen it before, and I would love to have it! It reminds me of "Thunder in Paradise", here you see the cast playing on CD-i and Chris Lemmon wears an official Philips POV cap. I've always wanted that cap ;) So here's the second CD-i cap I know of.



This is something special, and you'll see more of it soon. I was surprised to find this picture on the internet, but it doesn't matter anyway, it's a beautiful official CD-i controller, prototyped and unreleased. More soon.



Pretty rare, this is the official Philips television with a built-in CD-i player. I've told you before about the B&O CD-i version, which is based on the same technique. Philips tried to integrate CD-i in more like this, for example the official stereo hi-fi set including a CD-i player. Unfortunately you don't see this player a lot. regarding the limited lifetime of the CRT screen, once the screen is dead, the CD-i player is dead too.



Lucky Steelballs owns two CD-i televisions, and here he's demonstrating both The 7th Guest and Dragon's lair. Unfortunately the lighting is bad, but the screens are beautiful.



Videostores and warehouses often had a CD-i demonstration kit including a touchscreen. Our local hospital also had this Videotronic system offering a preview of the Philips Media Medical Encyclopedia (dutch) on CD-i. This is a unique set of a CD-i 470 player built-in a television with touchscreen ability. Rare, yes! As far as I know, the Videotronic CD-i kit was never sold for the consumer market, and meant purely for demonstration and professional areas.



Last but not least, this is the official CD-i wooden train model I've heard about from CD-i member Erronous before and I remember I've seen this before, probably the pictures got lost in the enormous archive. I'm glad Steelballs posted this picture so it's safe for the future ;)

More & Credits: the CD-i section of Steelballs & Jansen

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'Oldergames keeps Frog Feast alive on CD-i'

>> Sunday, June 17, 2007

Our only living CD-i homebrew project at the moment, Frog Feast, is not going to fade away, according to Oldergames. "We are currently working with Doty on a few things but it won't get going until after CGE. I know he is still very committed to releasing Frog Feast and I've discussed a joint project with him. Unfortunately due to lack of information the sprite issues need to be resolved by our friend Mr. Homebrew Genius himself before the games can be readied for release.

We are also working on other possible opportunities and will explore them further after we return. We plan on doing something for the CD-i before the year is over. We are far from done when it comes to supporting this awesome system."
I can't tell a lot about those other plans, although we from The Black Moon project are involved! Yet I'm glad Oldergames keeps Charles Doty close to his CD-i version and about a possible release we'll just wait and see ;)

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Dave's Place: CD-i's way to meet with the Internet

>> Monday, June 11, 2007

Do you remember Philips was the first company to connect a videoconsole to the internet, giving you the ability to browse the Internet on your TV set? Philips investigated the possibility of Online features of the CD-i early in the lifespan of CD-i. The catalogues hinted at the arrival of the Tele CD-i Assistant, a device that was later changed into a fully functional modem. It was SPC Vision who drawed the first lines to connect CD-i to the internet, which you can read in this article. Lost Boys, The team who brought us The Lost Ride, later in 1996 released the first version of the CD-Online Web Browser. CD-Online was born in Europe.



It was SPC Vision who had the first experience with CD-i and the Internet. Although Lost Boys developed the consumer cd-i websurfing tools, it was SPC who prototyped the idea. Their first version did not support graphics but half of the Philips Media crew were eagerly using the demo disc on the SPC modem-account. However, when it had to be developed for the commercial market, Lost Boys was again signed to develop it. Another dead end for the mighty SPC crew! A decision made by the all mighty Philips, who already had close contacts with Lost Boys and granted them the project to release a set of CD-Online discs to the market.

This disc contains a simple text-only WWW browser that connects to the Internet using SLIP over a serial line connected to a modem. Although the disc was set up to use NLnet, there is nothing NLnet-specific on the disc except some configuration information. The CD-i Internet Demonstration disc can still be used today, as shown by the photographs (see the Links below for more information). Instead of a modem, a direct connection to a PC running RedHat Linux was used. The disc supports the CD-i KeyControl keyboard although it didn’t even exist at the time! The demo disc was originally intended to be used with a professional CD-i keyboard, but those were extremely rare even in those days.



The Tele CD-i Assistant has also a little more history. Philips partnered in 1992 with Amsterdam based CDMATICS to develop TeleCD-i (also TeleCD). In this concept the CD-i player is connected to a network (PSTN, Internet or other) enabling data-communication and rich media presentation. Dutch grocery chain Albert Heijn and mail-order giant Neckermann Shopping were early adopters and introduced award-winning TeleCD-i applications for their home-shopping and home-delivery services. CDMATICS also developed the special Philips TeleCD-i Assistant and a set of software tools helping the worldwide multimedia industry to develop and implement TeleCD-i. TeleCD-i was the world's first networked multimedia application at the time of its introduction. In 1996, Philips acquired source code rights from CDMATICS. Unfortunately, The Tele CD-i Assistant was never fully released to the market, but overruled by the Internet Kit, developed by Philips and Lost Boys.

While Philips introduced the CD-Online service in Europe; The United States got their own version of the Online software: Web-i was born. In general, the service was the same but the software was different, and while CD-i was long dead even before Philips launched the Internet tools, it remains unknown in what form and for how long Web-i continued service for the consumer market. The review offered by CD-i Collective is based on the Web-i system, if you want to get an idea.



Announced August 1995, the first release of the CD-Online browser was released in February 1996. The CD-i Keyboard, going strong with the name "KeyControl" wasn't available yet so navigating was a little clumsy. CD-Online started in the United Kingdom and The Netherlands followed in May 1996. You needed a Digital Video Cartridge to use the extra memory which was highly needed for browsing online. To get things rolling, Philips and Lost Boys filled the CD-Online disc full with demos, videos and screens so you didn't have to download them, but a link on the website gave acces to this content. A sneaky way to pretend CD-i internet was a fast downloading service! Let alone this fact, it was just very smart to do it this way.



How did it work? The Internet Kit was a big box holding the modem in the first place, which was clocked at 14.4 kbps. Mind you, even in 1996 this was slow, and 28.8 was the standard and even 56.6 was available. Still, Philips chose to go for a standard speed of 14.4 kbps. Maybe this was limited by the hardware limitations of the CD-i, but anyway this was a real let down for the CD-i Internet feature. The modem had to be connected via the connector port on the back, the so called "I/O serial port". If you owned a 4xx player, like the 450 or the 470, there is no seperate second controller port available and you needed the additionally available port splitter to connect the CD-i modem to the CD-i player.



Philips introduced CD-Online to the public by means of Dave, a character featuring in videos on the CD-Online disc and the name of the webmaster of CD-Online. In this way, Philips used Dave to let people know new links, new websites and new updates about CD-Online. Every owner of a CD-i player in 1996 got a free demo CD featuring Dave explaining the benefits of browsing the internet without leaving your chair. The CD-Online website offered a special Dave's Place with contests, questions, tips, etcetera.



One year later, Lost Boys presented the second CD-Online disc, featuring again a lot of new content like videos and offline articles. Also, the disc hosted the first online CD-i game RAM RAID, something you've read about a couple of weeks ago at Interactive Dreams. Apparently, Philips planned to bring more online versions of games on CD-i, but they decided to drop the format before anything of this materialized.



CD-Online was meant to survive CD-i. That's a remarkable claim but actually made by Philips when they realized CD-i wasn't the big future they hoped for. Philips continued to develop seperate settop boxes for TV's offering the CD-Online service without an actual CD-i player. Unfortunately, CEO Boonstra decided to cut off all media activities, and everything related to it was shut down or sold.



Practically, Internet via CD-i was a slow service, and comparable how you can browse the Internet using the Nintendo DS. Innovative, but again, it was far ahead of its time. Recently we had an interesting discussion if and how we could get the CD-i back online. Later iterations like the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 are offering the same kind of service and succeeding pretty well. Thank you, Philips.

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Games 0-F

3rd Degree - PF Magic
7th Guest, The - Philips Freeland Studios
Accelerator - SPC/Vision
Adventure of the Space Ship Beagle, The - Denshi Media Services
Affaire Morlov, L' - Titus
Alfapet - Adatek
Alice in Wonderland - Spinnaker
Alien Gate - SPC Vision
Alien Odyssee - Argonaut
Aliens Interactive CD-i - Dark Vision Interactive
Ange et le Demon, L' - Smart Move
Apprentice, The - SPC Vision
Apprentice 2, The - Marvin's Revenge - SPC Vision
Arcade Classics - Philips ADS / Namco
Asterix - Caesar’s Challenge - Infogrames
Atlantis - The Last Resort - PRL Redhill (Philips ADS)
Axis and Allies - CapDisc
Backgammon - CapDisc
Battle Chess - Accent Media (for Interplay)
Battleship - CapDisc
Big Bang Show - Infogrames
BMP Puzzle - Circle (for ZYX)
Brain Dead 13 - Readysoft
Burn:Cycle - Trip Media
Caesar's World of Boxing - Philips POV
Caesar's World of Gambling - CD-I Systems
Cartoon Academy - Bits Corporation
CD-i mit der Maus - SPC Vision
CD Shoot - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Change Angels Kick-off - HMO
Chaos Control - Infogrames
Christmas Country - Creative Media
Christmas Country - The Lost Levels - Creative Media
Christmas Crisis - DIMA
Clue - 3T Productions
Clue 2 - The mysteries continue - 3T Productions
Connect Four - CapDisc
Creature Shock - Argonaut (for Virgin)
Crime Patrol - CapDisc
Crow, The - Philips POV
Cyber Soldier Sharaku - Japan Interactive media
Dame was Loaded, The - Beam Software
Dark Castle - Philips POV
Dead End - Cryo
Defender of the Crown - Philips POV
Deja Vu - Icom Simulations
Deja Vu 2: Lost in Las Vegas - Icom Simulations
Demolition Man - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Demon Driver - Haiku Studios
Discworld - Teeny Weeny Games
Dimo's Quest - SPC Vision
Domino - Wigant Interactive Media
Down in the Dumps - Haiku Studios
Dragon's Lair - Superclub / INTL CDI
Dragon's Lair 2- Time Warp - Superclub / INTL CDI
Drug wars - Crime Patrol II - CapDisc
Dungeons & Dragons - PF Magic
Earth Command - Visionary Media
Effacer - CapDisc
Escape from Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Evidence - Microids
Falco & Donjon & The Sword of Inoxybur - BMi / Zephyr Studio
Family Games I - DIMA
Family Games II - Junk Food Jive - DIMA
Felix the Cat - Philips Sidewalk Studio
Flashback - Delphine/Tiertex (for US Gold)
Flinstones Wacky Inventions - Philips Funhouse
Fort Boyard: The Challenge - Microids
Frog Feast - Rastersoft

CD-i Games Index G-M

Go - CapDisc
Golden Oldies - SPC Vision
Golden Oldies II - SPC Vision
Golgo 13 - Japan Interactive Media
Great day at the races, A - CD-I Racing, Dove Films, Total Vision
Guignols de l'Info, Les - Canal+ Multimedia / INTL CDI
Heart of Darkness - Amazing Studio (for Virgin)
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The - Philips Kaleidoscope
Holland Casino CD-i - HMO
Hotel Mario - Philips Fantasy Factory
Inca - Coktel Vision
Inca 2 - Coktel Vision
International Tennis Open - Infogrames
Jack Sprite vs. The Crimson Ghost - PF Magic
Jeopardy - Accent Media
Jigsaw - Novalogic
Joe Guard - DIMA
John Dark: Psychic Eye - CapDisc
Joker's Wild!, The - Accent Media
Joker's Wild Jr., The - Accent Media
Kether - Infogrames
Kingdom - The far reaches - CapDisc
Kingdom 2 - Shadoan - CapDisc
Labyrinth of Crete - Philips Funhouse
Laser Lords - Spinnaker
Last Bounty Hunter, The - CapDisc
Legend of the Fort - Microids
Lemmings - DMA Design / Psygnosis
Lettergreep - Wigant Interactive Media
Lingo - SPC Vision
Link - The faces of evil - Animation Magic
Lion King, The - Virgin Interactive Entertainment
Litil Divil - Gremlin Graphics
Litil Divil 2: Limbo Years - Gremlin Graphics
Lords of the rising sun - Philips POV
Lost Eden - Cryo (for Virgin)
Lost Ride, The - Formula (Lost Boys)
Lucky Luke - The video game - SPC Vision
Mad Dog McCree - CapDisc
Mad Dog McCree II: The lost gold - CapDisc
Magic Eraser - Circle (for ZYX)
Mah-Jong - Japan Interactive Media
Making the Grade - 3T Productions
Man Before Man - Cryo
Marco Polo - Infogrames
Mario Takes America - CIGAM
Master Labyrinth - AVM AG/HQ
Mega Maze - CapDisc
Memory Works, The - Compact Disc Incorporated
Merlin's Apprentice - Philips Funhouse
Microcosm - Philips Freeland Studios
Micro Machines - Codemasters
Monty Python's Invasion from the Planet Skyron - Daedalus CD-i Productions
Mutant Rampage - Body Slam - Animation Magic
Myst - Sunsoft (for Cyan)
Mystic Midway - Rest in pieces - Philips POV
Mystic Midway 2 - Phantom Express - Philips POV

Compact Disc Interactive

Compact Disc Interactive

Games N-Z

Name that tune - Philips Fantasy Factory
New Day - Bits Corporation
NFL Hall of Fame Football - Philips POV
Othello - HMO
Pac Panic - Philips ADS / Namco
Palm Springs Open - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Pool - SPC Vision
Pinball - CapDisc
Plunderball - ISG Productions
Power Hitter - ABC Sports / Fathom Pictures
Power Match - Two's Company
Pursue - BEPL
Pyramid Adventures - Compact Disc Incorporated
RAMRaid - PRL Redhill
Return To Cybercity - Fathom Pictures
Riddle of the Maze, The - Fathom Pictures
Riqa - Bits Corporation
Rise of the Robots - Mirage Technologies
Sargon Chess - Spinnaker
Scotland Yard Interactive - AVM AG/HQ
Secret Mission - Microids
Secret Name of Ra, The
Shaolin's Road - Infogrames
Skate Dude - Viridis
Smurfen, De - De Telesmurf - Infogrames
Solar Crusade - Infogrames
Solitaire - BEPL
Space Ace - Superclub / INTL CDI
Space Ranger - Studio Interactive
Special Operations Squadron - SPC Vision
Sport Freaks - SPC Vision
Star Trek - Philips POV
Star Wars: Rebel Assault - LucasArts
Steel Machine - SPC Vision
Striker Pro - Rage
Strip Poker Live - Greenpig Production
Strip Poker Pro - Interactive Pictures
Super Fighter - The Super Fighter Team / C&E
Super Mario's Wacky Worlds - NovaLogic
Surf City - Philips Sidewalk Studios
Tangram - Eaglevision Interactive Productions
Taco's Toyroom Troopers - Creative Media
Tankdoodle - Creative Media
Tetris - Philips POV
Tetsuo Gaiden - Creative Media
Text Tiles
Thieves' World - Electronic Arts
Tic-tac-toe - BEPL
Tox Runner - ISG Productions
Treasures of Oz - Philips Kaleidoscope
Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis
Uncover featuring Tatjana - SPC Vision
Uninvited - Icom Simulations
Video Speedway - ISG Productions
Vinnie the Pinguin - Pandemonium Labs
Voyeur - Philips POV
Voyeur 2 - Philips POV
Whack-a-Bubble - Creative Media
What's it worth - Marshall Cavendish Multimedia / Spice
Who shot Johnny Rock? - CapDisc
Wordplay - BEPL
World Cup Golf - US Gold
Zaak Sam, De - Toneelschool NL
Zelda - The wand of Gamelon - Animation Magic
Zelda's Adventure - Viridis
Zenith - Radarsoft
Zombie Dinos From The Planet Zeltoid - Philips POV

  © Interactive Dreams Version 5 by The Black Moon Project 2013

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