MESS emulates Philips CD-i. For free

November 15, 2009 · Filed Under Emulation & Retrogaming, News 

News - A succession of fresh, quality news, from inside and outside of the WebThis news would have come out a bit earlier if I hadn’t have to deal with some other stuff, nevertheless the subject is interesting and deserves to be reported anyway: MESS, MAME twin emulator which embraces its philosophy of completeness and accuracy shifting the focus from the arcades to the home machines hardware, has recently added support for Philips CD-i, ie what almost certainly is the worst videogame “console” ever appeared in the not-so-young history of the medium.

Starting from release 0.135 (even though the addition of the CD-i driver dates back to some weeks earlier), the emulator of domestic emulators has integrated the work of developer known as “Harmony” and a little contribution by veteran Arbee bringing to the open source community the first software reproduction of a system that until now had been the subject of just a commercial emulator, made by a CD-i ex-developer (legitimately) interested in profiting by his creation.

Not that there was a particular urgency for emulating the CD-i, the machine with which Philips tried, in the Nineties, to enter the competitive market of game consoles and entertainment-edutainment devices and miserably failing all along the line. Released in 1991 with a retail price of 700 dollars, the CD-i could “exhibit” a Philips 68070 16-bit CPU (based on the historic chip 68000 by Motorola) clocked at 15,5 MHz, an “MCD 212″ graphic processor able to output up to 768×560 pixels, 32.768 colors on-screen from 16.7 millions overall, MPEG-1 decoding through a “Digital Video Card” optional expansion board, 1 Megabytes of RAM and single-speed CD-ROM drive.

The CD-i was marketed at the time when the infamous “Full Motion Video” had become an obligatory feature for whatever videogames related stuff, and just like the FMV and other competing products based on the then-young CD-ROM standard (Mega-CD, 3DO) it soon became history. Selling just 570.000 units and standing out for a software library of extremely poor quality, conversions of famous videogaming trash and titles that were already available on other platforms lacking the unforgivable design defects of Philips’ machine.

As for the CD-i emulation which debuted in MESS, most of the supported games tend to crash and there is no support for the MPEG-1 additional board at all, while the games that seem to be playable include Hotel Mario, The Apprentice, Dimos Quest, Alien Gate, Jokers Wild and the unavoidable Tetris. The always precious MobyGames services, in the end, can be queried to get the list of known CD-i games.

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