Philips CD-i: A retroactive spanking to Nintendo’s inability to play well with others.


(Legend of Zelda: The Faces of Evil, probably the most referenced in the CD-I rogues gallery of Nintendo titles)

It’s a slow news day apparently.

Electronic giant Philips used to have money and before Nintendo made the mistake of fucking over Sony in their joint effort to produce a powerful CD-ROM device to battle Sega’s SEGA CD drive.

Let’s talk about the path less traveled and how Nintendo’s weird history of failure kept making competitors, more specifically how they created a competitor in Philips who made off with licenses that may look familiar…

The result was a strange multimedia widget called the CD-i, which mostly boasted some enhanced (at the time) movie features exclusive to its system. It also had a number of games on the system that varied it terms of questionable quality.

Kotaku snuck out to the graveyard last night
to dig up some of these ill-fated, mostly forgotten titles that erupted in the Zelda vein because Nintendo pulled their involvement at the last minute leaving Philips with a license to adapt games of iconic Nintendo characters, but without Nintendo’s support the games were thought up ad rectum and games have lived in infamy ever since only to be brought up like a Nintendo boogeyman.

Nintendo tries to publicly play the whole thing off like it was their Tienanmen Square. They feign ignorance and act dismissive towards anyone who dares to confront Nintendo personnel regarding the CD-i games. You officially lose any chance to interact with them at that point, so if you can’t wait to be snubbed ask about Zelda’s Adventure or Mario’s Hotel.

This isn’t the last time either. In their weird, possibly paranoid funk they moved from big company to big company to combat the fact that their entire conveyor belt was dedicated to cartridge construction. So they asked some the big boys to hop in the pool and help out. Every time someone came in to assist they appear to have tried to drown them, so the only way to really be sure of how bad it got is to count all the bloated corpses floating in Nintendo’s pool.

Philips broke free with a license to some of the hottest video game characters in existence, but the failed drowning made Nintendo sulk and decide to withdraw any support putting themselves in a weird and stupidly impotent situation to let the games fail and the brand suffer because the only creative connection they could tap into was the TV show making it all the weirder.

The last time Nintendo messed up this bad they created their biggest Japanese rival which overtook their entire market and stole a lot of their star talent they depended on, Squaresoft being the biggest punch to the junk which prompted an exodus of humorous proportions. FYI Nintendo still loaned their big names out to other people since then including Link (Capcom), Mario (Camelot, Squaresoft, etc.) and a couple of Starfox (Rare, Namco) titles. Most recently they loaned out Samus’ likeness and the guy blamed hailed as the creator of the original Metroid to have the remnants of Team Ninja make Other M, which was a disaster in their eyes.

I’m not saying they should stop letting in the new blood because it’s only smart to allow fresh talent to play with your toys, I’m just saying their levels of involvement need to either increase to be universally the same so they have someone on hand to save them from themselves. Kotaku defends the CD-i titles by their unique premises in that Zelda becomes the star of two games bearing her name and that for a development team totally abandoned by the copyright holder, they did alright.

That’s debatable…

I’m still going with the feeling that the games are shit, but I never had the chance to try ‘em because my family didn’t trust the device enough to take the risk on it, good thing too. At this point, I’m a little surprised that Nintendo hasn’t at least snagged the game titles to phase the originals out completely and remade Super Princess Peach with Zelda in it. OR SOMETHING! As it stands, most people are blissfully unaware of the strange relationship Nintendo had a with a electronic giant named Philip and the blame still falls in Nintendo’s court AS IT SHOULD because they didn’t lift a fucking finger to assist in the game’s development squandering a huge opportunity.

As it is, Nintendo’s SNES never joined the ranks of Sega CD and Turbografx-CD. The first disc-based thing we saw was the Gamecube and it wasn’t until the Wii that discs were a sane size. So thanks for catching up to the LAST console generation with the Wii, someday we hope you’ll be on par with the rest of the class.

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