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Useful Notes / Philips CD-i

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The Phillips CD-i 220

"Look how huge it is! It looks like one of those old VCRs. It is the biggest video game console I've ever seen. Literally, you can fit two of these inside it. [the Nerd stacks the smaller CD-i console on top of the giant one] If you remember my Atari 5200 video where I commented how big it was, [cut to the CD-i and the Atari 5200 side-by-side] well, both consoles are ridiculously huge, but the CD-i just barely wins."

The CD-i (short for Compact Disc Interactive) was an attempt by Philips to create a multimedia CD player standard, released in 1991. Development was originally started in 1986 by Philips in cooperation with Sony.

Since the system was barely aimed at traditional gamers, its library mostly consisted of educational titles, reference works, and board games like Clue or Axis And Allies. Philips tried to capitalize on its gaming capabilities when the edutainment titles failed to sell, but the arrival of more powerful systems, like Sony's PlayStation, the Sega Saturn, and the Nintendo 64, made the change of direction too little, too late. The format did find some success as a kiosk application and remained in production up until 1998; where game-focused multimedia systems such as the 3DO were eventually made obsolete by more powerful dedicated game consoles, the CD-i was the only one to cover the electronic self-help niche.


Like the aforementioned 3DO, the CD-i was conceived as a standard and thus several manufacturers produced their own versions, like Magnavox (though by this time, Maganvox was owned by Philips, so their version was essentially a badge-engineered version) and Sony.

The system is best known today for its four Nintendo-licensed games (The Legend of Zelda CD-i Games and Hotel Mario), the result of a deal between Philips and Nintendo for a cancelled SNES CD-ROM add-on. Their Deranged Animation cutscenes are a popular source of YouTube Poop, lending them Watch It for the Meme status (and overshadowing aspects of these games that were legitimately good).


Technical Specs

Hardware, Processors and Memory

  • 16/32-bit 68070 CISC Chip (68000 core)
  • Clock Speed of 15.5 MHz
  • CD-RTOS operating system (based on Microware's OS-9)
  • 1 MB of main RAM
  • Single speed CD-ROM drive
  • The console supported two player mode, but the second controller port is inexplicably built into the back of the console.
  • Unlike consoles like the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, the CD-i does not support sprite scaling or sprite rotation effects, which proved to be a handicap when developing the scrapped game "Super Mario's Wacky Worlds".


  • Graphics Chip: SCC66470, later MCD 212
  • Resolution: 384×280 to 768×560
  • Colors: 16.7 million w/ 32,768 on screen
  • MPEG 1 Cartridge Plug-In for VideoCD and Digital Video
  • The console also had optional S-Video support.


  • Sound Chip: MCD 221
  • ADPCM eight channel sound
  • 16-bit stereo sound


  • CD-i mouse
  • Roller controller
  • CD-i trackball
  • I/O port splitter
  • Touchpad controller
  • Gamepad controller (Gravis PC Game Pad)
  • IR wireless controller
  • S-video cable
  • RAM expansion and Video-CD (MPEG-1) support with DV Cart


Original Titles


Movies (requires a DV Cart)

Music Videos (requires a DV Cart)

  • Sting (Ten Summoner's Tales)


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