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

Philips CD-i Reviews U-Z

Video Speedway
Grade: F
Publisher: Philips (1992)
Posted: 2004/7/21

screenshotHoly mother of [expletive]! I had no idea how monumentally boring a racing game could be until I played this disgraceful piece of [expletive]. Video Speedway tries to be Pole Position with better graphics, but its plodding gameplay made me [expletive]ing nauseous! You get a first-person view of the "action", with the front of your car stretched across the entire bottom of the screen. Rotating shades of gray on the road and rudimentary scaling attempt to convey movement, but the sensation of speed is virtually nonexistent. You'll quickly attain your car's maximum speed, and even then it feels like you're moving at a snail's pace.

The boring tracks are agonizingly long, and you are forced to complete an excruciating "trial lap" before every contest. The races themselves feature a bunch of look-alike cars that scale poorly and tend to jump around. They are hard to pass, and even a light bump causes your car to burst into flames, bringing the contest to an abrupt but merciful conclusion.

The background includes skylines of New York, Paris, Geneva, and London, but the scenery looks so very distant. The audio includes a lot of annoying screeching sounds and sporadic guitar noise. I was really hoping Video Speedway would inject some arcade excitement into my Philips CD-i, but instead it just annoyed me to no end. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

1 to 4 players 

Grade: B
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Posted: 2004/7/21
Rating: Adults Only (17+)

screenshotThis semi-interactive, full motion video (FMV) took me by surprise. Upon loading it, I encountered a "lock out screen", and had to consult the instruction manual to get past it. How bad could this be for a 1993 title? Pretty racy as it turns out! Voyeur gets off to a fast start with a provocative video clip. Seen through a window, a hot babe in lingerie is handcuffing some guy to a bed! Voyeur doesn't contain any actual nudity or sex (that I'm aware of), but its subject matter is definitely adult-oriented, and there's quite a bit of profanity as well.

The intriguing storyline revolves around Reed Hawke, the CEO of a large corporation who plans to announce his intention to run for president of the United States. By spying on his estate using a high-powered camera, you can view and record scenes and conversations between Hawke's family members and other guests staying in his mansion. Eavesdropping simply involves moving a crosshair over the windows until an eye, ear, or magnifying glass symbol appears, alerting you to something worth investigating.

Voyeur's sharp-looking video clips are interesting to watch, and they reminded me of Night Trap (Sega CD, 1992). The game strings you along with sporadic scenes of sexy women in various stages of undress, which I forced myself to watch for the purposes of this review (you're welcome!). The video clips depict actors in front of nicely rendered, computer-generated scenery.

As you listen to conversations and get to know the characters, the game draws you in. If you manage to gather enough evidence to implicate Hawke, you can notify the police and get him arrested, which is ultimately how you "win" the game. Robert Culp (wow, a legitimate actor!) does a fine job of portraying Reed Hawke, but some of the supporting cast performances are downright laughable. For a FMV game, Voyeur is not half bad. It's not the kind of game you'd want your wife to walk in on you while playing, but it's certainly entertaining enough. © Copyright 2004 The Video Game Critic.

1 player 

Whack A Bubble
Grade: C
Publisher: New Frontier (1997)
Posted: 2011/9/10

screenshotSome claim that Whack A Bubble is one of the better titles in the CD-i library, but I'm not convinced. Adding a unique twist to the classic Breakout formula, each stage of the game presents a unique configuration of colored bubbles. You bounce a ball off a paddle at the bottom of the screen to pop them, but there's a catch. One button causes the ball to change colors, and you can only pop bubbles of your color (with some exceptions). It's not the most intuitive system in the world but it does demand quick thinking.

Another interesting feature is your ability to fire missiles directly at the bubbles. You only get a limited number of shots, but they really come in handy when you're trying to clear out the last two or three. In addition to popping bubbles, some stages have unique objectives like hitting a clown face or ringing bells scattered around the screen. There's enough variety but the controls leave much to be desired.

Your paddle moves slowly and can't always reach the ball in time. The collision detection is unforgiving, so if the ball hits the edge of your paddle, you inexplicably explode. The graphics are cheesy and the whimsical audio track really got on my nerves. From that cringe-worthy keyboard music to the obnoxious sound effects, you'll seriously want to consider hitting the mute button. To its credit, the game includes a two-player mode, a high score screen, and a handy continue option. Whack A Bubble has a few interesting elements but ultimately I found its presentation to be a major turn-off. © Copyright 2011 The Video Game Critic.

Our high score: 7135
1 or 2 players 

Xplora 1: Peter Gabriel's Secret World
Grade: NA
Publisher: Real World Multimedia (1995)
Posted: 2015/2/14

screenshotPeter Gabriel's albums tend to be high concept so it makes sense he would indulge in a multi-media experiment like this. Xplora tries to mimic a level of interaction on par with modern day DVDs. The concept of navigating screens, interacting with puzzles, selecting videos, and discovering Easter Eggs was pretty cutting-edge stuff in 1995. You guide a red hand around the screen, clicking on various images and icons.

One of the first screens presents you with a puzzle to construct Peter's face. After a brief intro by Peter himself you're given a virtual briefcase used to collect items that access hidden features. While exploring the disc you'll sift through some interesting material, primarily showcasing the Us album (1992). You can read lyrics, watch music videos, and view behind-the-scenes rehearsal footage (including the Grammy awards).

The music videos make heavy use of computer effects, including Steam, Kiss the Frog, and Digging in the Dirt. Other areas let you learn about exotic musical instruments or play with a virtual sound mixer. Xplora is also a vehicle for Peter to promote social causes and other musicians he's collaborated with.

Secret World was about ten years ahead of its time, so we might forgive its so-so video quality and incomprehensible user interface. The icons aren't intuitive and seriously hard to make out. Frankly it feels like a puzzle just trying to make any sense of it all. Still, if you're a Peter Gabriel fan (like me) you'll probably enjoy just toying around with the disc, watching videos and trying to unlock stuff. In some ways Xplora feels like a time machine serving up a generous slice of 90's pop culture. © Copyright 2015 The Video Game Critic.

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1 player 

Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon
Grade: C
Publisher: Philips (1993)
Posted: 2007/4/23

screenshotWand of Gamelon features the same exact gameplay as Link: The Faces of Evil, but this time you control Zelda herself. The game kicks off with the corniest, most vomit-inducing animated introduction since, well, Faces of Evil. After persevering through that bunk, you'll find yourself moving a cursor around a well-rendered map while listening to music from an 80's workout tape (let's get physical!).

Each of the diverse locations contains a relatively short side-scrolling stage where you'll fend off spear-tossing ogres, stampeding wild boars, and rock-throwing octopi. You'll need to alternate between stages while collecting specific items that allow you to advance a little further in each. Wand of Gamelon's graphics aren't too shabby, with colorful scenery that appears to have been drawn with crayons. Sketchy animation and poorly-designed controls however drag down the gameplay.

Pressing diagonally initiates a jump, but you don't get much distance and there's little margin for error. Accessing your inventory is done by crouching and pressing B, but this is problematic since B is also used for other functions, like opening doors. Consequently, you'll sometimes try to attack a monster and accidentally leave the room!

Initiating conversations is done by striking characters with your sword - not exactly intuitive! The game doesn't make much sense in general, with characters always mentioning people and objects you have no clue about. Wand of Gamelon is not a very good Zelda game, but for what it's worth, it did hold my attention longer than most CD-I titles. © Copyright 2007 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, The World of CD-i