Philips CD-i Reviews N-R

NFL Hall of Fame
Grade: C
Publisher: Philips (1994)
Posted: 2002/8/23

screenshotHere's a surprise - a CD-i football game with players you can actually control! It's no Madden, but all things considered, Hall of Fame is respectable. You choose from forty of the best NFL teams of all time, or from "dream teams" containing Hall of Fame players. There's an impressive number of options including a coaching mode, variable weather conditions, audibles, and even league play.

The action is certainly Madden-inspired although not nearly as polished. The overhead view of the field looks impressive with sharp, well-defined hash marks and players. Although the players look realistic, they move in a slow and choppy manner. The ball movement is equally jerky and is especially hard to follow during pass plays. The tackles look pretty cool though. Bone crunching sound effects and clear voices complement the action, but the crowd is strangely silent.

There's no play-by-play, but text is displayed after each play describing the action. No, you won't be able to hit a button fast enough to skip through that! When running the ball, two buttons are used to dive and "elude tackle" (stiff arm, spin, etc.) It's tough to get your running game going because the tackles are attracted to you like magnets. During pass plays, windows are used to view the receivers. It looks fine, but the buttons aren't responsive, so it takes a while to get the ball off. The field goals feature a nifty "behind the kicker" view, but I could have sworn I saw a kick called "good" that clearly missed.

Hall of Fame also features bonus informative materials about many Hall of Fame players. Unfortunately, when I tried to read about Johnny Unitas, the program responded with, "Due to contractual obligations, this player cannot appear in the game." Huh? The guy hasn't played for 40 years, what kind of contract could he have?! For everything the Hall of Fame does right, it seems to do something else wrong. It's not a great game by any stretch, but at least it looks good, and is definitely playable. I suppose that's more than can be said for most CD-i titles. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 or 2 players 

NFL Instant Replay
Grade: A
Publisher: Philips (1994)
Posted: 2002/8/23

screenshotThis is hands-down the best game I've ever played on the CD-i, mainly because it plays to the system's strength: Full screen video. Instant Replay contains over 300 video clips of individual football plays, each of which could have several possible outcomes. Pat Sumerall provides expert analysis as the play unfolds, and afterwards you play referee and choose between four possible options. You are awarded points not only for selecting the correct answer, but also for selecting it as fast as possible.

If you're a football nut, you will absolutely love this game. NFL Instant Replay is played in "rounds" modeled after the real football season. The regular season round consists of 16 rounds, and if you survive that, you'll enter the playoff rounds, and then perhaps the Super Bowl.

The user interface is simple and the game has virtually no lag time. The full screen video footage looks terrific and provides plenty of hard-hitting NFL action. Most of the regular season plays are easy to judge if you're a football fan, but even die-hards will be hard pressed to make it past the playoff round. The game can be played with one or two players. Very, very cool. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: SDZ 394
1 or 2 players 

Name That Tune
Grade: D-
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Posted: 2002/7/22

screenshotThis might as well be called "Name The Tune That Your Parents Listened To", because despite being less than ten years old, it seems positively archaic! The cheesy game show format is hosted by a Donny Osmond look-alike named Bob Green. Although the game has several different rounds, most involve listening to some lame elevator music and guessing what song it's supposed to be. The fact that the music is NOT original is a major turn-off, and the "tunes" sound only vaguely like the originals.

While Name That Tune claims to contain "pop classics from the 50's to the 90's", there weren't many songs that I recognized. There are plenty of obscure bands mentioned like "Free" and "Tony Joe White". If you recognize songs like "Put Your Hand In the Hand", then maybe this game is for you. Perhaps the oddest part is how you're supposed to name the song out loud, and then tell the game if you were right or wrong.

Since when do video games use the honor system?! The first time I played the game, I got absolutely nothing right, and it was hilarious to hear Bob say "It's time to check those scores!", and subsequently stare at that big zero in the middle of the screen. Better yet, when I advanced to the bonus round (by default), he exclaimed "You've earned a chance to score even MORE points!". More than zero, Bob?

Like any game show, there's too much talk and not enough action. You'll get more enjoyment out of making fun of this game than actually playing it. It serves its purpose, but Name That Tune should be filed under 'C' for Cheesy. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Palm Springs Open
Grade: C
Publisher: Philips (1991)
Posted: 2002/7/2

screenshotI had high hopes for this golf game, but despite its gorgeous digitized graphics, Palm Springs Open let me down. The eighteen-hole course is wonderfully photogenic, consisting of holes culled from several famous courses. The digitized golfers are nicely animated and even react appropriately to their shots. A two-man commentary team provides insightful and often humorous comments. If only the gameplay could live up to the presentation! But alas, this game is too slow and tedious.

To set up your shot, you have to switch between THREE screens: the main view, the map (which provides the obligatory wind information), and the club selection screen. The controls that let you toggle between screens are slow, clunky, and non-responsive. Adding insult to injury, you can't even do anything until the commentators stop talking! Philips should have consolidated the screens and perhaps made use of more than one button!

Once your shot is finally set up, it's hard to hit the ball without a pronounced hook or slice. I had a tough time judging my shots, even after repeated plays. And even if you mastered this game, it will still take forever to play thanks to the frequent pauses and load times. Palm Springs Open is a sharp-looking game, but the slow pace and frustrating interface ruin the fun. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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1 to 4 players 

Grade: C+
Publisher: Oldergames (2003)
Posted: 2004/10/3

screenshotFor a system that's badly lacking in arcade-style titles, here is a welcome new addition to the CD-i library. An intergalactic pinball game, Plunderball features multiple vertically-scrolling tables, each with several sets of flippers. The large metallic ball moves fast, and although the action does get choppy at times, the physics is respectable. Each section of a table contains easy-to-see targets and free-moving objects to aim for.

The graphics are sharply detailed, and the crystal clear sound effects are equally impressive. Plunderball's main flaw is how it unwisely attempts to incorporate a convoluted background story in the form of short video clips that play when the ball gets "trapped" in certain spots. The clips are supposed to shed light on the table objectives, but it's rarely obvious how they correspond to the action on the table. The actors in the clips give a spirited performance, but the cheap-looking props and sparse backgrounds make them look downright silly. After watching a few of these, you'll quickly learn to hit a button to skip them.

Another issue is the game's easy difficulty level. My very first game ran well over a half an hour, thanks to an excessive number of bonus balls and numerous "safety nets". Plunderball is in dire need of an options screen to let you crank up the difficulty and turn off those videos. As it is, Plunderball is flawed but not too shabby. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 1203800
1 to 4 players 

Power Hitter
Grade: F
Publisher: Philips (1992)
Posted: 2002/8/23

screenshotPhilip's attempt at an innovative baseball game looks promising off the bat, but it sails foul - way foul! In theory, Power Hitter puts you in the batters box against ace pitchers Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley. The game is all batting (no defense), and the players on each team are fictional. Before each pitch you must contend with time-consuming "batter strategy" and "pitch guess" screens.

After that, you have a first-person view of the digitized player pitching to you. As the ball zooms in, timing is critical to swing and put the ball in play. I hit dozens of foul balls before I realized you have to swing VERY early in order to get a legitimate hit. Even with this knowledge, I continued to hit fouls constantly. In the rare occurrence that a ball is put into play, you watch the action automatically played out in a series of short video clips, which aren't bad.

The commentary is terrible however, often bordering on embarrassing. Power Hitter has a few novel features like the ability to adjust your stance or initiate a suicide squeeze, but I wish the programmers had concentrated on the basic gameplay instead. Power Hitter is way slow and tedious, and the terrible controls make you feel more like a bored spectator than a player. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

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