Magnovox/Phillips CD-i
Company: Magnovox & Phillips(North America)
Released: 1994(North America)
Lifespan: 1994-1995
Processor: 32-Bit

”Multimedia, home entertainment, console.”

To many of you reading this review late in the year 2000, this probably would mean to you the recently released Playstation 2, that can play a wide variety of Disc formats such as Audio CD’s, DVD Movies, DVD PS2 Games, and backwards compatibility with original PS1 games. Of course, and judging by the wildly successful launch, it looks like to be the most successful system ever(not including the portable Game Boy, which has been going strong since 1989). But about 7-6 years before the PS2 hit the North American homelands, other attempts at Multimedia, home entertainment, consoles were tried out in the US. The first one, the 32-Bit, Panasonic 3DO (released in 1993) was a semi-success, which played 3DO games, Audio CDs, and Photo CDs, had a nice variety of games, and had a pretty good life span to early 1996 in the US market. Now their was one other attempt at a multimedia, home entertainment, console, and that was the....

Magnavox/Phillips CD-I

Yes, there was different versions of the console which I’ll get on to in just a little bit. See folks, the CD-I was another 32-Bit system (dominant over the popular 16-bit systems at the time), that played CD-I games, Audio CDs, Photo CDs (CDs that you store your own photographs on), plus the unique, VCDs(Video Compact Disc) which are very similar to the current DVDs we have today, which plays actual full length movies. Now this was back in 1994, and the technology wasn’t even close to obsolete at the time, so two different versions of the console were released.

The Magnavox version of the console, was one that looked like other standard video game CD consoles, nice size and everything. The only difference between it and the Phillips version was that the Magnavox version didn’t support VCDs(but you could buy a Video Cartridge add-on, separately to make it play VCD’s), and a $200 price difference between the two models when they came out, with the Magnavox version being $300, and the VCD Compatible, Phillips version being a hefty, $500. (The Phillips version had the Video Cartridge built into the console.) The Phillips version, looked a lot like a standard DVD player today and nothing at all like a console. One really odd thing about the system is that their was only one controller port, and the controller was oddly shaped like a tv remote, with a button/control stick in the middle and two thinner buttons around it. To play two player games you needed a “multi-tap” for the CD-I, kinda cheesy in my opinion.

Well the CD-I didn’t have those many games released for it overall, about 30 in total I say made it for the states. Some popular ones were Burn Cycle that was a freebie for the Magnavox version, and 7th Guest, which was a freebie for the Phillips version. The game did have a couple of sports games like International World Tennis, and a football game I believe, plus some puzzle games like Tetris, but overall, games were really hard to find for this system.

3rd Party support for the CD-I was very limited as well, basically it was only Magnavox and Phillips releasing games for the CD-I, but they sure did make some effort to buy out some licenses to bring some popular series of games like Tetris, but what really amazed me, was that Nintendo gave there license to them to bring out some Nintendo games to the CD-I. So CD-I got a game called Casino Mario (Mario playing a variety of card games in a casino), plus an exclusive Zelda game. Sounds pretty interesting, but too bad that not many of the games got around that much.

The graphics are really mind blowing for this system, it has a 32-bit processor, superior to the 16-bit processor of the Genesis and Super NES that were the systems of the moment. Even though I had to say, the graphics didn’t look high end 32-bit, but much like the graphics of an early Saturn game. But that’s because the system’s life was so short, it never had a chance to evolve it’s graphics. The game was capable of FMV and really had some spectacular ones found in games like Burn Cycle. Also when you equip a video cartridge to the Phillips CD-I, you can play VCD movies, which feature full length movies that look spectacular for being one of the first consoles to do so.

The sound was also superior, because you got CD quality sound, which is really great compared to the midis you found on the competition at the time. You can also play Audio CDs on it for an extra bonus. You can even hook your CD-I up to a stereo system for your main CD player in your home (don’t laugh, I actually know a few people who use their CD-I’s and Saturn’s for their main base of a their stereo system). A funny thing about the audio CD player is that you can write track titles in for the CD and save it in the CD-I’s hard drive.

Well, all in all, the CD-I lived a very short life with its last game coming out in late ‘95-early ‘96. I consider that to be very shocking, because the CD-I had so much going for it considering it can play VCD’s and audio CDs in the early time at 1994. I guess the CD-I had the same fate as the Tucker automobile, and that was just that it was ahead of its time. Now lets get onto the...

Final Ratings Rundown

Graphics: 8.5
Sound: 8.2
Variety of Games: 3.3
3rd Party Support: 1.5

Overall: 5.3

Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 5