Philips CDi S-U

CDi

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 Sargon Chess - Spinnaker Software

It's chess! What more can you say about this game? Ok in all seriousness this version of one of the world's oldest board games is certainly very smart indeed. The original Sargon was written by Hayden Software on an early Z80-based computer. The name "Sargon" was taken from either of the historical kings Sargon of Akkad or Sargon of Assyria. Sargon was introduced at the 1978 West Coast Computer Faire, where it won the first computer chess tournament held strictly for microcomputers. This success encouraged Hayden Software to seek financial income by selling the program directly to customers. A number of sequels followed, each improving the game, until we got to this 4th version. It has rendered graphics, digitised sounds and loads of gameplay options. There are over 145,000 different moves possible, 16 difficulty levels from novice to grand master, 3 different chess sets to play with, a teach yourself chess tutorial and you can even create your own chess problems for the Sargon program to try and solve! If you are a fan of chess then this comes highly recommended but if you aren't then there is nothing here to wow you and make you change your mind.

Review by The Laird

7/10

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 Shaolin's Road - Infogrames

I was really expecting this to be a fighting game and instead it's a kinda weird Dragon's Lair like interactive animie movie type thing! It's actually quite hard to describe but starts off with a movie like intro telling you the story and then itís into the action (kind of). The game presents you with a screen where you basically have to choose a path to take. By clicking on different parts of the scenery you can select your route and take part in the "missions". One of the ones I played involved following a girl through a village and you really have to keep an eye on her. First she runs down the streets and then you have to follow her taking the exact same route. If you don't you will come to a dead end and have to go back. Itís much like a memory game but with much prettier graphics. In this part your character moves for you and you simply have to press the direction at the right time to follow. If anyone has played the CD-i game Escape From Cyber City then this is a kinda evolution of that and certainly a lot more interactive than some of the other ďinteractiveĒ movies out there like Space and Dragonís Lair. I can't decide if I like this game or not but its certainly very unique! It has excellent graphics and sound and itís clear a lot of attention was made to telling a story. If you are a fan of FMV games then no doubt you will love this.

Review by The Laird

6/10

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 Shark Attack Ė By Cap Disc

There are loads of these kind of discs for the CD-i, an interactive educational experience with mini-games tacked on. Solar System and Great British Golf are other good examples of this kind of multimedia genre. Shark Attack is definitely one of the best on the machine though and gives a fascinating insight into what goes on under the sea. It features documentaries, video clips, facts and a trivia quiz that focus around every area of a sharkís life. Sharks have been around for 400 million years and represent one of the oldest species on earth, harking back to the days of the dinosaurs. You can find out about the food chain, the biology and best of all Ė shark attacks! If you ever wanted to find out about the real life Jaws then this is your chance. It is even fully endorsed by the Centre For Marine Conservation so expect plenty of environmentally focused content too. The whole disc is wonderfully presented with easy to negotiate menus and voiceovers to help you along the way. The mini-games provide a fun diversion and are obviously aimed at kids with their cute cartoon like graphics. If you like to learn, love sharks or are just curious to find out more then this disc will be right up your street, especially if you have kids.

Review by The Laird

8/10

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 Solar System - Multimedia Corp

Using actual footage from Nasa and information from world recognised experts there is no doubting the amazing amount of informative content on this disc. What made it for me though is the fact its presented by Patrick Moore who many know as one of the worlds most famous astronomers but many more people in the UK will know him as The Gamesmaster. His face and voice were used for the character on the successful 90's gaming show and gave many a Brit the hint, tip or cheat they needed to complete their favourite games. He guides you through the disc with a computerised American woman and makes an excellent host. As well as all the information, movies and photos relating to the Solar System this disc also has 2 games you can play. The first Gravity Golf has you trying to hit a ball round a planet using the gravity of that specific planet to help you get the ball into the hole! Each planet has different gravity and swotting up on the planets before playing will certainly help you! The second game is Planet Ball a really fun little title where you need to fire a ball through a field of various planets into the black hole on the other side. The gravitational pull of the planet's effects where you ball goes so you need to fire it at just the right trajectory and with the right amount of power. It will take several goes to complete some of the levels. I found myself strangely addicted to this game, it has a lot of charm. Overall this is an excellent product for the system and one that comes really highly recommended!

Review by The Laird

9/10

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 Space Ace Ė By Super Club

The original Space Ace was an arcade game produced by Don Bluth Studios and released by Cinematronics. It was unveiled in October 1983, just four months after its more famous sibling Dragon's Lair. Much like its predecessor it featured animated film quality visuals played direct from a laserdisc. The gameplay is also incredibly similar and requires the player to simply move the joystick or press the fire button at key moments during the action. Having already appeared on several formats Space Ace was never really done any justice until the age of the 32-bit machines and CD technology. This is mostly due to its reliance on streamed video to supply the graphics and digital sound. Thanks to the CD-iís digital video this was the first version to be arcade perfect. It looks and sounds just like a cartoon, the problem is that it plays like one too! Ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration but you get the picture. Neither Dragonís Lair or Space Ace are known for their playability. So all in all Space Ace is as good at it possibly could have been and impressive from a graphical point of view, just like itís arcade parent. But with the lack of any real gameplay I canít recommend this game to anyone except fans of the original game or other similar ďinteractiveĒ FMV movies.

Review by The Laird

3/10

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 Steel Machine - SPC Vision

The moment I had been waiting for had come, the first play of a proper shoot 'em up on the CD-i and this rare title was a game I had heard good things about so was very pleased when I snagged it for an amazing £10 on eBay. If anyone has played the brilliant Return To Genesis on the Atari ST or the classic Uridium on the 8-bit computers then you will pretty much know what this game is all about as its certainly heavily inspired by them. For those that havenít this is a horizontally scrolling shooter that is viewed from above like a vertically scrolling shoot 'em up! The idea is to fly over the Steel Machine taking out the gun turrets and the drone ships that it releases. By destroying an attack wave you get a nice little power up and this can range from new guns to extra shields and extra lives. One you are over the giant ship you are also able to move left and right to take out any bits you may have missed, a handy scanner is also on show to see where the trouble is manifesting just like Defender. The graphics are pretty nice but what really stands out is the fantastic soundtrack, simply the best I have heard on the CD-i and one of the best in any CD game to date. I do warn you that this game is tough but you will go back for another go and you will beat that high score again if only by a few points. This is a CD-i essential and one of the top 5 games I have played for the machine so far, a real quality product.

Review by The Laird

9/10

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 Striker Pro - Rage Software

From the programmers behind the original Striker on the ST & Amiga and Powerdrive Rally on the Jaguar this is one of 3 football games out there for the CD-i. I was expecting a fine conversion of the ST game I played to death as a young Ďun and while it retains many elements of that game it is slightly different. The ST original has a 3/4 behind the player kind of perspective, where as this version is viewed more top-down, but strangely it plays identically. The physics are the same, ball control and ability to swerve the ball, very important for scoring spectacular goals. You can play as pretty much any international teams from around the world, although there are sadly no player names or squads to choose from. Compared to Ultra Soccer, on the CD-i, this is more of a pure arcade experience. Its a good game and I had a lot of fun with it but it just seemed like Rage did the bare minimum of effort on it and with a few more features, like tactics and definable squads, it could have been a really fine footy game indeed. Graphics are decent enough, but I would have preferred the ĺ perspective of the original game. The sound consists of all the usual cheers and whistles. As it stands fans of the original 16-bit versions of Striker will definitely get a kick out of this (pun intended!) but people looking for a more rounded footy experience will want to search out Krysalisí Ultra CD-i Soccer instead.

Review by The Laird

7/10

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 Surf City - Sidewalk Studios

Strange title this that is clearly aimed at kids but I am not really sure what its trying to do or achieve. Its not educational, its not a game, its not a movie, its not a quiz and isn't any kind of reference or educational tool. All you do is cruise around Surf City in your car looking at stuff! You can choose where you want to go and some cool dude tells you all about it while some cheesy music by the Beach Boys plays. You can visit the house he grew up in or the beach where he went surfing and just listen to him reminisce. Then you can click on parts of the scenery, which allow you to do little things or get a close up look at a certain area. There is a cafe where you can make a burger, a house where you can look at a photo album and then there is the arcade. Finally I was thinking YES! GAMES! But no strangely, all you will find is the bare minimum of interaction of any at all. There is the arcade machine that allows you to drive a car up the screen without crashing, very basic indeed, and a pinball machine that you can't even play! When you click on it you get a FMV video of somebody else playing it, yeah thanks for that Sidewalk itís not like we love to play pinball or anything! Unless you are crazy about owning everything for the CD-i or a massive Beach Boys fan I really wouldn't bother.

Review by The Laird

3/10

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 Tangram - Eaglevision

This little heard of title has also appeared on the PC, ST and Amiga among others and also got resurrected more recently for the Nintendo DS. It is actually based on an old Chinese game but it probably better known as one of those little plastic games that you often get in Christmas crackers. The best way to describe this game is that there is a square in the corner of the screen that is divided into flat sided blank shapes that must me moved into spaces in the middle of the screen to make up a picture. Not as easy as it sounds though as you must rotate the pieces and find the best way to make them fit within the time limit. There are also levels that are Jigsaw like where the picture is on the pieces and they must be put together. There are loads of little FMV sequences where the pictures come to life and its weird as after a while you begin to see what these angular depictions are before they come alive. I was surprised just how many different combinations of shapes they actually managed to come up with, the programmers were certainly very creative! Graphically the game is more than competent and the sound that there does the job more than well enough. Tangram is very addictive, very fun and very well presented this is already a big favourite of mine and a must have for Philips CD-i puzzle fans.

Review by The Laird

9/10

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 Tetris - Philips

The story of Tetris is a really long and complicated one that turned into a real mess thanks to some very liberal sub-licensing. The case was finally settled when Nintendo managed to prove it was them who owned the rights to the game. Before that there were loads of companies releasing different versions. While Atari Games released the arcade version of Tetris in America and Europe, Jaleco released their own version (sometimes known as Tetris Plus) in Japanese arcades. Then there are the home computer versions by Mirrorsoft and the Tengen (publishing label of Atari Games) versions of Tetris for the NES and Mega Drive that were withdrawn from sale after the lawsuit was settled. Not a lot more you can really say about this, at the end of the day everyone has played Tetris on one system or another. I will say itís a very fine version though that has a few very nice features exclusive to the CD-i version. The first is the backgrounds, they are moving digitised scenes like waterfalls and forests and look superb. The second is the sublime soundtrack that really compliments the game and lastly I love the fact it features the starting levels like the Gameboy version. Pretty much a must have title if you own a CD-i and can be had for very cheap too!

Review by The Laird

9/10

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 Tetsuo Gaiden - New Frontier Entertainment

This extremely rare game was only released in the Netherlands and while it may sound like a beat 'em up its actually vertically scrolling shooter! The best way I can describe this game is Galaga with fancy backgrounds and power-ups. There are 2 modes of play: classic and future. The classic mode looks much more like Galaga with a scrolling star field backdrop and simple sprites, all very 8-bit in style. While the future mode uses the same sprites but puts them over a wonderful rendered backdrop that is animated and also scrolls too. They kind of reminded me of a cross between Crescent Galaxy and Ikaruga and I must say they look jaw dropping. They do slightly confuse matters though when you see a rendered flying saucer fly past that you canít shoot at. Power-ups are your usual fare with speed-ups, faster shots, extra guns etc and when you die you lose them. The alien patterns get faster and more dangerous as the levels go on and real skill is needed to avoid both them dive bombing you and their shots! On the sound side itís a strange mix, the sound effects are very Galaga with classic 8-bit beeps and bloops. The music however consists of a great rock style CD sound track that makes it all sound quite strange. I personally really liked this game and with some slightly better power-ups and bosses this could have been a true classic.

Review by The Laird

8/10

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 Text Tiles - Capitol Disc Interactive

I love word based puzzle games so was looking forward to playing this game and it didn't disappoint. All you do at the start is choose a game length, minimum word size allowed (from 3 upwards) and number of players. Once you get into the game you have a tiled board and it gives you one letter at a time to put down. You must use the random letters given to make words, the longer the words the more points you get and in 2 player you can also go through words being created too to nab their letters. Itís a bit like Scrabble or the Facebook sensation Words With Friends in many ways. Itís all about high scores and how long you are willing to wait for that 1 letter you need as once the time is elapsed it takes away points for ever letter left on the screen. Puzzle and word game fans will lap this one up and I was interested to find its also recently been turned into a flash game on Facebook, probably due to the success of similar games. Text Tiles is never going to impress in the graphics or sound department and it isnít going to set the world alight with its gameplay. But what it does do, it does well and that makes it a very enjoyable distraction from more arcade like games, especially with a second player.

Review by The Laird

8/10

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 Thunder In Paradise - Mass Media

I have just reviewed a number of great games so I suppose it was only a matter of time before I came to another crap one. Especially as this is the CD-i we are talking about, a machine that is not known for the strength of its game library. This title comes as a 2 disc set; one is the game and the other is the full length TV Movie of the series starring aged wrestler Hulk Hogan and a number of his friends (many of which wrestling fans will recognise). The movie included here is nearly as playable as the game! No joke. You know its going to be bad when Hulk Hogan greets you before you start and asks you to join in his "interactive movie", oh dear! Your job, using the gun or the pad, is to protect Thunder, which is a speedboat, from attacks by the enemy. You must switch between 4 views using a radar, that also shows you where the attacks are coming from. The graphics are all in FMV and the missiles and enemies appear so quickly they are near impossible to shoot, despite being shown on the radar for what seems like an eternity. When you die Hogan makes snidy remarks about your performance and you just want to punch him. The only tiny redeeming things about this game are the nice graphics and the fact that its light gun compatible, even the movie included is woeful.

Review by The Laird

2/10

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Ultra CD-i Soccer - Krisalis

This game was produced by the same people as the smash hit Manchester United Europe video game (European Soccer Challenge on the Lynx and Euro Club Soccer on the Mega Drive) and Soccer Kid on multiple console formats so I guess these guys must have been big fans of the beautiful game. The biggest thing that shocked me when I played this game is that itís almost an EXACT copy of the ST & Amiga versions of Sensible Soccer. The graphics are near identical, the ball control and dribbling is the same, tactics are almost identical, sound is almost the same and the shooting/passing system is the same using just one button and after touch. It even has real players like Sensi with slightly altered names like Alun Shaerer or Toddy Sharinghem. It has far more to it than Striker, the other arcade style foot game for the CD-i, and has loads of options and different tournaments you can play in. As well as all the worldís great national teams there are also club sides from England as well as other select teams from around Europe and all-star teams too. The graphics and sound are fairly simplistic but are perfect for a game of this type so no complaints from me. If you are a fan of the original computer versions of Sensible Soccer then you will be in heaven with this game if you are more used to playing the flashy FIFA games then the graphics and sound may disappoint you. Personally speaking, I am with the first lot.

Review by The Laird

8/10

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