The CD-i

It danced, it singed, it was good for audio, video, Karaoke and CD+G discs, while at the same time (not literally, mind you) it played games. The CD-i you see, oh dear retro-minded reader, had a decent library of gaming and educational software. ~Konstantinos Dimopoulos

The CD-i

It’s really weird feeling nostalgic for a console never actually owned, played or in any way experienced… Still, the CD-i was the second CD console I ever craved (promptly following the equally unsuccessful CDTV). And it was ads like this (via), that spawned my ungodly craving:
Even though the console was a commercial failure, it was rather an interesting kit of hardware, that somehow managed to become the home of some weird, rare and quirky Mario and Zelda games. Featuring a 16bit 68000 based processor (@ 16MHz), 1.5 whole MB of RAM, a single-speed CD drive, optional MPEG-1 capabilities and dazzling 32k color graphics, CD-i was quite the home-entertainment hub Philips had wanted it to be.
It danced, it singed, it was good for audio, video, Karaoke and CD+G discs, while at the same time (not literally, mind you) it played games. The CD-i you see, oh dear retro-minded reader, had a decent library of gaming and educational software.
Litil Divil - CD-i
Top titles included Burn:Cycle, Myst, Dragon’s Lair, Litil Divil, Mad Dog McCree, Rise of the Robots and a dozen more.
Surprisingly (to me at least), the CD-i failed, and I never got one. Why? Guess it was a money thing. 1up, has more to add to the sad story. As for an emulator… Tough luck. There’s the freeware CD-ice that’s capable of emulating one game (Rise of the Robots, in case you were wondering), and the shareware Cd-i Emulator (free demo).

Both though need the CD-i’s ROM images. Tough luck. Again.

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Konstantinos Dimopoulos

Hi, my name is Gnome, a.k.a Konstantinos and I own the blog Gnome's Lair which is all about gaming in all of its many and varied guises. It is thus about computer & video games, old games, new games, indie games, adventure games, free games, board games, ludology, game creation, RPGs, books on games, games on books, and well the theory of and in games.

36 thoughts on “The CD-i

  • Quite the dedicated fans. Greatlink Jakanden, thanks! All I now have to do is search for the pink/Hello Kitty Cd-i.

  • 15 years and we stil haven’t got the ultimate multimedia machine to stick under our telewisions…..

  • we do, we do, we do……. play em on a 360 though and prepare for eyestrain……

  • Yes??? Why’s that oh poor Mr. Elderly?

  • the dvd playback quality of the 360 is crap
    (be nice!..)
    not as it could have been.

    Compared to a standard dvd player it stinks
    its not as it should have been

    there was a recent improvement with that dashboard update, but it hasn’t made a significant difference

  • indeed I was suitably pissed off
    a tad disapointed, now my dvd player of choice is my ……dvd player what i picked up for €60 (crl,alt,4)

    luckily i still play games on my 360,

  • As our Creator would have wanted it. Good.

  • and people wonder what the meaning of life is………pah!

    ah gaming………

  • indeed, did we mention drinking? or is that just like breating…

  • Yes, drinking.. right… something more..


    slips my mind though

  • so recaping on the reasons we were put on this planet, we have eating, drinking, gaming


  • Ah yes … sleeping.. that must have been one…

  • eating, drinking, gaming, sleeping

    thats it I think!

  • (counts on the fingers of one hand)


    whadda I miss…….

  • Guess you got it all then…

  • Eh, there might not be emulators, but I bet you could pick up a system and a few games on eBay for a relatively cheap price. At most $100..

  • Hmm..thanks for the tip. Admittedly 100$ is quite affordable. Ebay on the other hand does pose a few problems. Most sellers just will not ship to Greece and I can’t say i’m a 100% comfortable with paypal…

    Still, this price, might make it possible to get one for 100-150 euros here.

    Anyway… Cheers for the comment!

  • cd-i good
    paypal bad
    greece heaven

  • a) correct
    b) correct
    c) nope. Wrong.


    Almost brilliant

  • greece hot?

    gives us a clue?

  • Not really… Windy actually. And shitty. A rather bad combination if I may say so.

  • no surely you’ve got the wrong Greece…… notta my experience at all…….maybe if i was born there…or lived there for longer than 2 weeks…..

  • I have to agree with you, but this is the strangest July ever. I mean it’s actualy cold at night!!

    Who’d have thought?

    (apparantly we did… we fucked the climate over! Hooray!)

  • cold at night in Greece? what? i slept for the first week on the roof of the hostel, without a sleeping bag…..

    no your not in the same greece…at all (checks map to see if theres another greece where gnome could be living)

  • Things have a surprising way of changing… I’m pretty sure it’s the correct country though. The salaries help remind me stuff.

  • Boy, did this post bring back memories!

    My first real job in technology was as a QA tester for a company that made games for the CD-i platform. I worked the night shift there while I was in college to help pay the bills. 9PM-2AM. Ugh. When I was in college those seemed like pretty sweet hours, though 🙂

    In retrospect the CD-i platform seems pretty weak (and even at the time I could tell it was a bad bet business-wise — the high cost limited its appeal), but it was doing some pretty cool stuff hardware-wise, at least for 1994-95.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  • Glad you enjoyed the piece Jason… Cheers for the comment mate! Wow, working on a console game… Pretty nice way to fund ones studies…


  • “Wow, working on a console game… Pretty nice way to fund ones studies…”

    Depends on the game 🙂

    The CD-i titles I got to work with were uniformly awful. There was a Civil War strategy game based on the Battle of First Manassas, for example. A “feature” of the game was that you could set different postures for the AI opponent; “Cautious”, say, or “Aggressive”.

    The only problem was that, no matter which you chose, the AI always ended up massing its units into a giant blob and then charging them all North or South, depending on which side it was on. Oops!

    Another title that was much-hated inside the test lab was an NFL football trivia game. This was loathed because it had a bank of audio quotes from real NFL announcers; it would play a quote back to you after each question. Unfortunately there were only about 10 quotes in the system, so you got real tired of them real fast.

    One priceless aspect of that game, though: if you were unfamiliar with the rules of the trivia game, it had an audio feature with one of those announcers where he explained the basic rules to you. One of those rules was that each player had to pick an NFL team to represent them in the game.

    This meant that the famous announcer guy had to explain to players that, in a 2 player game, each player had to choose a different team — they both couldn’t be the Chicago Bears, for example. But due to a poorly written script, the way he explained it was (and I quote):

    “One more thing: remember, no team can play with itself.”


  • LOL

    (imagines teams playing with themselves… oh, dear… that’s frightening)

    Ah, but the mere thought of these horrid games still amuses you, which -I suppose- is a relatively good thing. Then again, I must admit you’ve peaked my interest. I’m always looking for really awful creations. I’ve even watched the Dungeons and Dragons movie three times.

  • If you’re looking for awful games, you’d do well to pick up a CD-i — there was no shortage of awful games on there…

    Another one I worked on was called “Kingdom: the Far Reaches”, which was sort of like what you would get if you set out to clone “Dragons Lair” with 1/100th of the budget. The animation was super cheap, and it showed; and the plot was boring as all get out.

    “Kingdom” was anticipated to be a Blockbuster Title because it was one of the few CD-i games that used the “DV Pack” addon (an MPEG-1 video decoder) to allow glorious Full Motion Video. Pretty cool, except it meant that the already small universe of potential customers (people with CD-is) suddenly became an order of magnitude smaller (people with CD-is who ALSO have the DV Pack).


    Oh well! Connoisseurs of bad games should definitely check out “Kingdom” (and its even lamer sequel, “Kingdom 2: Shadoan”) At least then someone will have gotten something out of them 😀

  • Amazing! You’re telling me there’s a sequel to a game like Dragon’s Lair, only worse and badly animated! This really sounds dlightfully dreadful! Why, thanks…

    I’ll have to get me a Cd-i. really do!

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