Philips CD-i Reviews S-T

Shark Alert
Grade: NA
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Reviewed: 2003/5/20

screenshotI've had a fascination with sharks since I was a little kid. I still enjoy watching those documentaries on the Discovery Channel, although they always downplay the danger of sharks, spouting useless statistics like "more people are killed every year in steamroller accidents than by shark attacks". Whatever. If you have any interest in sharks at all, you'll like this educational CD called Shark Alert.

This is a comprehensive, well-produced documentary that's been chopped into specific categories you can browse through. By navigating the DVD-like menus, you can view information about feeding habits, shark history, hydromechanics, and reasons why sharks attack. Naturally my curiosity took me straight to the shark attack section, but there really isn't a whole lot to see. Most of the material is narration over still photos. There's an occasional small video clip, but in general the lack of video footage is disappointing.

Even so, there's enough information here to keep you "surfing" for some time. I was especially fascinated by the tiny Pygmy Shark and the hideous Goblin Shark. The CD contains a full index of all the different types of sharks, and there's also a "Food Chain" section that lets you see what might happen if any layer of the chain were eliminated. A trivia game is tossed in, but the cartoonish presentation makes it more suitable for kids. Shark Alert serves its purpose as an informative tool, but it could have been better. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Space Ace
Grade: C+
Publisher: Digital Video (1993)
Reviewed: 2019/9/1

screenshotI've been trying to review every incarnation of Space Ace from back in the day, and this might just be the best of the bunch. Its audio-visual clarity is impressive, with sparking colors and smooth animation. The action-packed intro alone is bound to get you psyched. For the uninitiated, these laserdisc-based arcade games are like semi-interactive cartoons where you move the joystick or press a button at just the right time to execute a series of moves.

Whether you're leaping between crumbling ledges or blasting robots, the action is fast and furious. There are occasional flashing hints but frankly the game boils down to a lot of trial and error. In some instances there's really no indication of what you're supposed to do. Still, you tend to get a little further each time and Don Bluth's animation is charming as always. The sequences are scripted but there are occasional mirror-image "reverse" scenes to keep you on your toes.

At first you assume the role of some whiny kid named Dexter, but he frequently transforms into the muscle bound stud Space Ace. The damsel in distress is a super hot redhead. After exhausting your five lives you enter your initials into the high score screen. I like that because it gives you a way to measure your progress. Unfortunately there are no continues; you have to start over each time. Space Ace's gameplay is limited by today's standards, but it's an interesting piece of history that's still a lot of fun to watch. © Copyright 2019 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 2396
1 player 

Space Ranger
Grade: NA
Publisher: Good Deal Games (2002)
Reviewed: 2003/7/22

screenshotSpace Ranger is an unfinished and practically unplayable prototype. This side-scrolling shooter resembles Defender, except you are constantly moving forward over a red planet surface. The objects you encounter are large and detailed, and the explosions aren't too shabby either. The planet surface looks pretty realistic, but it's hard to tell how low you can fly before crashing into the ground. Naturally, most targets hover low to the ground. Space Ranger contains long lulls in the action and the control stinks, but at least the grinding guitar music is good. Still, only die-hard CD-i fans will find this disk of interest. © Copyright 2003 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

Grade: B-
Publisher: Philips (1992)
Reviewed: 2002/7/2

screenshotIt's interesting to see the treatment that Philips gave this classic game for the CD-i. By incorporating moving video into the backgrounds and using soothing new age music, playing this game almost feels like a religious experience. The video backgrounds depict beautiful nature scenes of mountain streams, rocky beaches, or scenic waterfalls. I was very impressed with the music. I'm used to the bouncy little Nintendo tunes, but these peaceful rhythms grew on me.

This version of Tetris offers some nice options including ten levels of play. It would seem nearly impossible to screw up the gameplay itself, but Philips managed to find a way. First of all, the actual game is played on a small vertical strip that barely covers a quarter of the screen. The game board, score, number of lines, and next piece are all crammed onto this small piece of real estate. The bricks are too small and there are no sound effects, even when you clear a row.

But the game's biggest sin is the control. Instead of using the traditional method of pushing down to make the blocks move faster, a separate button is used. You'd think that using two buttons would be no problem, but it's easy to get confused. All in all, this is definitely the best looking Tetris I've played, but nowhere near the most fun. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Thunder in Paradise
Grade: B-

screenshotThis live video extravaganza has all the necessary ingredients of a CD-i hit: professional wrestlers, bad acting, pitiful CGI effects, exotic locations, and sexy women frolicking in bikinis (in gratuitous slow-motion, no less). There's even a cheesy storyline inspired by the Terminator movie. What more could you ask for?

Thunder in Paradise stars Terry "Hulk" Hogan in the lead role with former supermodel Carol Alt serving as the token female. One of the two included disks contains an entire episode of the "Thunder in Paradise" television program, which was such a runaway hit that I've never even heard of it. The second disk includes three shooting games that can be played individually or in a series. An "interactive television" option mixes these game segments in with the episode.

The video quality is excellent, making the exotic "scenery" look extra alluring. The games are designed to work with a light gun controller, and if you don't own one, you'll want to knock down the grade by a letter (at least). The gun is actually pretty accurate although the reticule lags a bit. The first game is called "Thunder Encounter" which puts you in a speedboat being attacked from four sides. The idea is to shoot down incoming missiles using an awkward mechanism that lets you toggle between four views. Targeting missiles is tough because once they are visible you don't have much time to react.

The second game "Island Encounter" puts you in a deserted water park with lush vegetation and rope bridges. While wandering around you'll occasionally pause to shoot generic enemies peeking out from behind rocks. I have to admit I enjoyed taking in the scenery. In the final game "Lab Encounter" you engage in a shootout with a "boss" who has some kind of metal plate covering half his face.

Most of the action takes place in a factory, but there's a section where you're inexplicably transported to a street that's obviously located at MGM Studios. The three games are shallow but I like how you get a score for each one in addition to a running total. Thunder in Paradise may have questionable replay value, but if you're in the right frame of mind this is a surprisingly entertaining trip back in time. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

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Our high score: 268,301
1 player 

Grade: NA
Publisher: Philips (1994)
Reviewed: 2002/7/2

screenshotThis well-produced CD is not really a game at all, but an interactive documentary narrated by Patrick Stewart. I'm not a big Titanic fan, but I was both fascinated and haunted by this disk, which covers every aspect of the doomed ship in astonishing detail. From its construction to its rediscovery in 1992, it's all here. You can either watch the entire CD as one long documentary or view specific topics (or subtopics). There are thousands of images and video clips, and the overall presentation is superb. There are even timelines that let you trace the sequence of the ill-fated voyage. The many layers of menus are nicely organized and fun to peruse. Some screens even contain maps or diagrams that let you highlight areas of interest. Titanic is loaded with minor tidbits of information, most of which I found to be fascinating. Anyone with even a passing interest in the Titanic legacy will find this compelling. © Copyright 2002 The Video Game Critic.
1 player 

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