Back in March last year, The 8-Bit Guy examined the history of the Philips CD-i. It was an ambitious multimedia console, capable of combining audio, text, and graphics on a Compact Disc-Interactive or CD-i, made almost exclusively by Philips. While the Philips CD-i was mainly known for its video games, there was also some “edutainment” titles released for the console such as museum tours and cool encyclopedias (think Encarta but for your TV).
8-Bit Guy called the Philips CD-i “the multimedia future that never was” and, after watching the video, I get where he’s coming from. Philips intentions were noble but missed the customer demand at the time. The console retailed at $1,000 (USD) but home computers were becoming cheaper as the Internet was growing in popularity and accessibility. You could do most of these things on an internet PC (as they were sometimes known back then) without needing to buy proprietary media.
As for the video game titles, they weren’t so great. The most notorious releases were Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, and Hotel Mario, three unofficial Nintendo titles launched on the console that were terrible then and still terrible now but we got a lot of great memes out of them.
The explosion of 90s home consoles passed my household by, even though I got to play them at friends’ houses (notably the SNES, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn, and N64, the latter I’d eventually own). But I might have enjoyed the CD-i if my parents allowed one in the house (and they were willing to pay for something that cost more than our TV).
Stream the video below.