Philips CD-i Reviews M

Mad Dog McCree
Grade: F
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Reviewed: 2002/7/2

screenshotMad Dog McCree has decent production values but horrific gameplay. It's a light gun game set in a town in the wild west. Everything's presented in full motion video, and the acting isn't as bad as you might expect. At least the scenery and props look realistic enough. The game has easy-to-navigate menus to calibrate your gun, select a skill level, or load an old game. You can even choose the order of the stages.

Once the action begins, you'll do nothing but die until you memorize where the outlaws are going to pop up. The gun control is terribly unresponsive. The target cursor lags badly behind where you point the gun - not a good sign for a game that demands quick reflexes. Mad Dog McCree's difficulty is off the charts. If a bad guy simply gets a shot off, you're instantly dead. On the other hand, your enemies can survive several perfectly aimed shots.

Sometimes outlaws hide in places where they aren't even visible - until they shoot you dead! What's worse is how you can't skip the video segments that accompany each stage. At the beginning of every game you have to endure a lengthy video clip of an old man getting shot and dying one of those long, overly-dramatic death routines. Enough already! Mad Dog McCree is complete, unadulterated torture. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Mega Maze
Grade: C-
Publisher: Philips (1994)
Reviewed: 2015/2/14

screenshotThis game's title screen boasts flashy graphics and a pumping soundtrack that really sends the wrong message! Mega Maze is just an understated series of brain-teasing puzzles solved in near-silence. The idea is to roll a blue marble through an intricate maze, navigating your way to the marked exit while avoiding purple marbles. "Tilting" the board rolls your marble but the purple marbles are subject to the same forces.

Your obvious strategy is to box those purple ones into corners where they won't get in your way. The problem is, advanced mazes require you to manipulate the purple marbles to open doors and trigger pressure pads to facilitate your escape. The mazes are thoughtfully designed and there are 165 mind-bending configurations in all. Breaking the silence during play are sporadic sound effects like the bird screech of two purple balls colliding and the reverberating gong that plays when you reach the exit.

After successfully completing a maze your time is displayed along with a four-digit passcode. As a game, Mega Maze falls flat despite its good intentions. If you play games to give your mind a rest, this gets old in a hurry. If you enjoy cerebral games however feel free to bump up the grade by a letter. . © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

Recommended variation: 8
Our high score: 6185
Save mechanism: Password
1 player 

Merlin's Apprentice
Grade: D+
Publisher: Philips (1995)
Reviewed: 2007/4/23

screenshotPhilips really had a knack for making games that were completely devoid of fun. After wincing through this game's cheesy animated intro, Merlin's Apprentice reveals itself to be a loosely knit collection of puzzles. Unfortunately, these are the kind of puzzles that require you to use your brain, and that's a shame.

Five types of mini-games are available, each with a selectable skill level. Being the conceited, know-it-all bastard that I am, I immediately cranked up all of the difficulty levels to "expert", and it took all of five minutes for me to set them back to "easy". Some mini-games require you to rearrange parts of the screen like a puzzle, and others force you to memorize various sequences (like that annoying Simon game except with graphics). Others simply involve "shooting" falling leaves by aiming a cursor and pressing the button.

The one type of game I did find somewhat interesting involves decrypting codes engraved on a stone tablet by substituting letters for symbols. These puzzles have a certain "Wheel of Fortune" vibe, and they're pretty tough. If you're an intellectual gamer, you may enjoy the way Merlin's Apprentice taxes your cranium. But if you're like me and prefer to avoid using your brain when playing games, avoid this at all costs. © Copyright 2007 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Mutant Rampage
Grade: B-
Publisher: Philips (1994)
Reviewed: 2009/10/16


screenshotIt's no Streets of Rage (Genesis, 1991), but this side-scrolling brawler isn't half bad. According to the Mutant Rampage background story, in the year 2068 the earth will lie in ruin and be overrun by mutated animal/human hybrids. Well hell, I could have told you that! You battle the horde with a three-man team called "the naturals", featuring a black guy (Daemon Stone), a funky white chick (Tory Swift), and a muscle-bound dude (Rack Saxxon). You kick and punch your way through side-scrolling stages using one character at a time, but you can switch characters at designated "tag pads".

It's fun, and the first three stages (Los Angeles, Rome, Beijing) can be played in any order. The graphics are higher in resolution than anything you'll find on the Genesis or SNES, but the disaster backdrops are unspectacular. They pack enough detail but lack the layers that made the scenery in Street of Rage so interesting. Your enemies are a truly bizarre assortment of freaks, many with human bodies and animal heads. Some are a bit disturbing (like those weird Mantis women), but some are more comical (like the fat dude who farts and tosses boogers). Enemies get repetitive, and the end-of-stage boss encounters (if you can even call them that) are lackluster.

The controls are a little stiff, but the three-button scheme offers a nice selection of kicks, punches, and special attacks. There are occasional weapons (like swords, knives, and pipes), but they're really no more effective than a normal punch (although they do extend your reach). There's not much blood, and the violence is pretty mild in general. An area where Mutant Rampage falters badly is the audio department. Everything you hit makes a dull "thud" sound, including slashes with a sword!

The soundtrack is uneven, and while I enjoyed some of the synthesized tunes, the more chaotic songs gave me a headache. A commentator chimes in between stages with a Wolf-man Jack voice, and he's really irritating ("ooooooooooww! That had to hurt!") There's no score in Mutant Rampage - you either finish it or you don't. That's a problem, considering the ten stages are pretty lengthy. A two-player mode would have been nice. Still, a high-resolution, inexpensive fighter like this is something CD-i owners will probably want to investigate. © Copyright 2009 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Mystic Midway Phantom Express
Grade: D-
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Reviewed: 2002/7/2

screenshotHere's a game that tries to be both irritating AND depressing, and succeeds on both counts. Phantom Express is a virtual amusement park ride that takes you through the various stages of life, including infancy, childhood, the teenage years, marriage, midlife, old age, etc. This bizarre and sobering game is played from a first-person point of view. Each stage begins with some nice looking roller-coaster ride eye candy, but the real action takes place in dark tunnels that flash all kinds of strange images in an attempt to evoke disturbing situations or bad memories.

Depending on the stage, you might see rattles, report cards, teachers, bosses, divorce papers, or hearing aids. The shallow gameplay consists of moving a cursor around and "shooting" things for points. The control and collision detection are lousy, but the game is challenging enough. Ultra-annoying sound effects include people nagging you and saying all kinds of mean spirited things. Is this what the early CD games were really all about? Trying to make you feel bad?. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Mystic Midway Rest In Pieces
Grade: C-
Publisher: Philips (1992)
Reviewed: 2003/7/22


screenshotIn a complete departure from that other horrible Mystic Midway game (Phantom Express), Rest In Pieces is an old-fashioned shooting gallery where you aim at skulls, bugs, ghosts, and other creeps that pop up at random intervals. The only thing Rest In Pieces has in common with Phantom Express is the annoying fat guy who appears between stages to remind you how bad you're doing. The gameplay is simple as can be. You move a gun across the bottom of the screen, shooting at multiple tiers of targets. A hit usually results in a creepy animation and sound effect. For example, if you shoot the pirate skull he'll say something like "Shiver me timbers!". Sometimes gravestones move across the bottom of the screen to block your shots. Each stage requires a certain score to advance, and the stages are wildly uneven in terms of difficulty. Rest In Pieces is a nice break from the full motion video games that litter the CD-i's library, but it's still not particularly addicting. I was hoping for some eerie backgrounds but there's really not much to see, and the off-key carnival music makes you want to turn down the volume. Rest in Pieces is not bad but not good either. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
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1 player 


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