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Games are rated relative to other games for the same system.

Philips CD-i Reviews E-H

Escape From Cyber City
Grade: D
Publisher: Philips (1992)
Posted: 2016/3/16

screenshotHere's a light gun shooter with no light gun support and no instructions! Good luck because you're gonna need it. The main menu does offer a "Cyber City Tour" providing a brief bit of background. Apparently a kid has been deemed mankind's best option to exterminate invading aliens and blow up their planet for good measure. Your adventure begins with an old guy handing you a key as you head into a post-apocalyptic city.

Certain aspects of Cyber City are appealing. The animation consumes the entire screen and there's something enjoyable about the cheesy anime style. The action unfolds rapidly but sometimes you can pan left or right to select your path. The gameplay is purely aim-the-cursor-and-shoot. Fortunately your ammo is unlimited so you can spray bullets liberally. During a typical scene a bad guy will appear in a building window and you'll need to react in a split-second or lose a life. It's not humanly possible to drag that cursor across the screen to the right spot, so memorization is crucial.

The problem is, bad guy locations are occasionally randomized, and even when you know where to shoot the clumsy cursor control makes it hard to aim. Once you get the patterns down you can make gradual progress. Yes, I tried using the CD-i light gun but it didn't work. Escape from Cyber City isn't terrible but it's certainly not good. At least the games tend to be brief, so if you hate it rest assured your suffering will be short-lived. © Copyright 2016 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 32400
1 player 

Felix the Cat's Giant Electronic Comic Book
Grade: NA
Publisher: Philips (1995)
Posted: 2022/12/26

screenshotFelix the Cat's Giant Electronic Comic Book was made in 1995 but never released until now. Like with so many Philips CD-i software titles, I don't really know what to make of this. Though clearly geared toward kids, that Felix the Cat cartoon character dates back to the 1920's, placing his fanbase into that highly-coveted, over-90 demographic!

My initial impression was one of disappointment, as I was looking forward to hearing that catchy Felix the Cat theme song ("Felix the Cat, that wonderful wonderful cat...") Instead the music sounds more like a creepy barbershop quartet ("Do you wanna hear a stooo-ry?") Yikes!

An intro video featuring Don Oriolo (yes the Don Oriolo) welcomes you to this "world of fun". Don is the son of Joe who created Felix the Cat. There's also a plug for the Felix Fan Club in New Jersey. I checked the web site and it hasn't been updated since 2009.

This disc is an interactive storybook with a hodgepodge of content. There are several comic-book style stories where you have the option to read certain parts out loud. We're talking snoozefest here. Two vintage Felix cartoons are also included, although limited to a small window in the center of the screen.

The mini-games are the standard connect-the-dots, mix-ups, magic squares variety. A few are moderately fun to toy around with. I was annoyed with the paintbrush game because I couldn't paint the characters, only the surroundings. I also struggled with the "how to draw Felix" activity, until it dawned on me I was supposed to tape a piece of paper over the TV and trace him!

Felix may be long in the tooth, but the cat has demonstrated ample staying power over the years, starring in a 1989 feature film and an NES game in 1992. More recently the feline has fallen on hard times, doing several well-publicized stints in rehab for substance abuse. I hate to speculate but I think we all know it's catnip. The question is, could this CD be his last hurrah, or the first stage of a 100-year anniversary tour? © Copyright 2022 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Golden Oldies I
Grade: C+
Publisher: Hacking Factory (1997)
Posted: 2012/5/4

screenshotThis sounds like an intriguing title until you realize it contains a paltry two games! Still, I was convinced that these Defender and Space Invaders knock-offs would be a hit with my friends. In Guardian you fly across a horizontally-scrolling planet while saving people from being abducted from aliens. The objects are large and well defined, and the background scenery incorporates mountains with scary faces carved into them.

The action is fast and smooth, but the game lacks polish. Your ship slides around and there's a lag when trying to reverse direction. The collision detection is weak, and half the time when you die you have no idea what hit you. There are a lot of white dots bouncing around the screen to represent a variety of effects, including explosions and enemy missiles. If you feel like you're in constant danger, that's because you are! The best way to make progress is to move slowly and keep an eye on the radar.

The second game is a wacky Space Invaders knock-off with aliens that scream in anguish as you blast them. When you get on a roll, the constant shrieks and moans sound like a really bad adult movie. You need to keep moving because these invaders dump a [expletive]-load of bombs. You'll be lucky to survive the first wave! The game ends with the message "Game Over Lad!" Who talks like that?

My friends were not impressed with either of these, but I liked the sharp graphics, digitized sound effects, and pumping techno soundtrack. The high difficulty results in quick games with a "one more time" quality. A high score table is displayed for Guardian but it is not saved. These games could never measure up to the classics they're based upon, but if you're in dire need of arcade action, these will scratch that itch. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Invaders
Our high score: 1,300
1 player 

Golden Oldies II
Grade: B
Publisher: Hacking Factory (1997)
Posted: 2012/5/4

screenshotLike the first edition, Golden Oldies II offers a whopping two games on a single disk! In this case we're talking about clones of Centipede and Breakout. "Bug Hunt" is a pretty intense shooter that also contains elements of Millipede, such as a dragonfly flying diagonally across the screen. The centipede tends to rush down at a breakneck pace thanks to poor mushroom placement on the left side of the screen. Your "cannon" looks more like the nipple end of a baby bottle, but I like how you can fire extremely rapidly just by holding down a button.

The graphics are sharp but my friend Chris noted that the animation is minimal, with most objects (like the huge spider) being static images. It feels like a Flash game, and the explosive sound effects would be better suited for a WWII shooter. The second game is Breakout at its core, but its use of different screen configurations and power-ups make it more similar to Arkanoid. This is probably the best title in the Golden Oldies series. Controlling your paddle is no problem, and it's possible to take out two or three blocks at a time.

Better yet, some blocks drop capsules that provide power-ups. These might unleash an extra ball, let you catch the ball, or even fire missiles directly at the wall. Juggling the balls and power-ups requires as much strategy as skill. The game also shows an odd sense of humor when you miss a ball and your paddle morphs into a skull, screams, and then blows up in a mushroom cloud. These games may lack the charm and fine-tuning of the originals, but they are still fun in their own way. © Copyright 2012 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: Blockbuster
Our high score: 24,908
1 player 

Great American Golf 2
Grade: F
Publisher: Xdra (1994)
Posted: 2002/7/22

screenshotI was hoping for an animated golf game along the lines of Hot Shots (Playstation), but Great American Golf is more like a golf documentary. It contains a selection of video clips explaining different aspects of the sport including the origin of the game and its greatest players. The historical stuff is fairly interesting, and the "Minority Golf" segment is especially revealing. It admits to golf's racist past, and features a clip of a young Tiger Woods (!) on the junior tour. The video accurately predicts that Tiger would make quite an impact in the pros. Great American Golf 2 also contains a trivia game for those who think they know everything about golf (casual fans and normal people need not apply). There's a golf game thrown in, but despite some nice graphics, it's barely playable. You have very little control of your shot, and can't really aim. Overall, Great American Golf 2 doesn't have enough substance to recommend. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
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1 or 2 players 

A Great Day at the Races
Grade: C
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Posted: 2019/9/1

screenshotThis "enthusiast" title proves a good fit for the CD-i, packing a tremendous amount of horseracing knowledge. A Great Day At the Races teaches you all the lingo, how to handicap horses, and the art of placing exotic bets. The disc includes the past history of 550 thoroughbreds, and if that's not enough Mickey Rooney (yes, the Mickey Rooney) is available to offer tips and hints! The tutorials tend to be verbose but you can always jump directly into the racing action. After entering your name you're presented with a slate of five horses.

During the betting process you indicate which horses you expect to win, place, or show. The interface feels antiquated, especially when you need to press the "accept bet" button before you can "start race". Then there's a bit of pageantry as a guy blows his horn and the horses are presented lined up in the stall. Then they're off!

I was expecting video footage at this point, but instead you get images of digitized horses moving across the screen. They look pretty realistic but the track appears to be completely straight. There's no concept of rounding turns or coming down the stretch, which is disappointing. There's also no jockeying for position as the horses remain in their own lanes.

Still, it's fun to watch your longshot mount a frantic comeback to pull out a victory by a nose. The commentator stays on top of the action and sometimes there's even a photo finish! Once you begin winning some dough you may want to stick around for a while. A Great Day At the Races could have been better but it's a great primer for people who want to learn about the sport. Horse Racing fans should bump up the grade by a letter. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Hotel Mario
Grade: C+
Publisher: Philips (1994)
Posted: 2002/7/2

screenshotDon't feel bad if you've never heard of this obscure Mario game (yes, Mario of Nintendo fame). Only available for the CD-i, Hotel Mario plays more like an old-school platform game than a traditional Mario romp. Each stage is a single screen in size, and the object is to close every door on the screen. Each "hotel" consists of five platforms, and elevators let you move between floors. Patrolling each platform are all sorts of familiar adversaries.

Like any Mario game, there's plenty of jumping, and the doors provide additional strategy since you can hide behind them. That's critical, because there are some really annoying creatures (like the caterpillar) that you'll want to avoid altogether. Hotel Mario's graphics are decent but nothing spectacular, and each level is introduced with a low-budget cartoon cinematic. Upbeat music plays constantly throughout the game and it does get annoying before long.

Hotel Mario is easy to learn but supremely difficult to master. Although there are only seven hotels, each has ten stages that all look and play pretty much the same. I felt like I was playing the same stages over and over. It's no classic, but if you're looking for arcade action for your CD-i, you could do far worse. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 37590
1 or 2 players 

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Screen shots courtesy of Old Games, Dimo's Quest, The Black Moon Project, YouTube, Moby Games, The World of CD-i