CD-i Queen might be for sure the biggest Laser Lords fan I meet in my life.
In the last year, she was lucky enough to get in contact with Keith Lehman and Paul Day, two Spinnaker employees who worked on the production of the game and answered an interview.
I hope you all enjoy reading my interview as much as I enjoyed coming up with the questions.
CDIQUEEN: Questions will be shown in black.
KEITH: Answers will be shown in blue.
PAUL: Answers will be shown in red.
Read the full interview here.
Cat Mantra is the gentleman behind Retro Shack CD-I cinema. He is also a recording artist, a game coder for the TRS-80 and has already released two recent CD-I titles as part of an extensive project. The third in the series is coming on Tuesday 18th July ”Timey Wimey Wibbly Wobbly”. I recently caught up with him for The World of CD-I about the project, his love for CD-I and future plans.
Alan: Tell us the inspiration behind your project to release 12 CD-I/videocd titles over the next 3 years?
Cat: Well, I have always been a creative person. In fact, sometimes I wish I had an “off” or “sleep” button hahah! This particular project began with me just wanting to see if I could CREATE VCD’s, with no thought to making them available on general release. After a LOT of trial and error I landed on the correct software and formula to do it. And then I thought “Why not?”. I am very experienced with modern video editing software through years of creating music videos, and in fact my first short film “Sailing on 8-mil” was released last year and enjoyed success at film festivals as far afield as California, won in Istanbul, and came 6th at Cannes indie shorts awards 😀
Alan: You mentioned to me that you discovered CD-I about 3 years ago. What sparked the initial interest?
Cat: I have the vintage collectors’ disease. Hahah! I had a 3DO back in the day, and again now; I also have Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, N64, PS2, Wii, Original XBOX. And one day I just thought “Let’s have a look at these CD-i’s.” My first 210 arrived non-functional – the discs wouldn’t spin. A YouTube video taught me how to sort it! I now also have a FABULOUS restored player with new clock battery setup and RGB by my mate in the Netherlands Muh Mullet. He’s a GENIUS with hardware, and I can’t recommend him high enough to anyone who needs work done (and can afford the shipping 😀 ). I very much see the Philips CD-i with respect and for exactly what it is: The first TRUE multimedia device. Epic. The end.
Alan: Tell us a little more about your first 2 releases – for those people thinking of making a purchase – which I previewed on The World of CD-I in mid-March, and your reasons for starting with these particular titles?
Cat: I started with Bond because it was indeed the 60th Anniversary of Dr No hitting the screens at theatres and I am a Bondite so it was a no brainer! I only make videocds/CD-Is that I will want to watch myself, and just hope others will too basically 🙂 I was able to source TOP quality footage for that one from MGM, as I get licensing for these releases through my record label where required. I render in the highest possible definition – however it of course does come down to the source material. “Tales from The Outer Limits” is considerably lower annoyingly. But I think/hope I chose total CLASSICS for that all the same. The idea for this one came when the crypt keeper kept popping into my head!! 😀
Alan: How do you enjoy your own CD-I mainly? I.E. Are you a CD-I gamer, or do you prefer to watch movies, documentaries etc?
Cat: Mainly a gamer. I LOVE FMV-based games – that’s also why I loved 3DO back in the day. And still do! I tried the unreleased CD-I Voyeur 2 a few months back but it had some problems playing on my CD-I, but I look forward to trying that one again.
Alan: Tell us a little about what buyers can expect from your upcoming third title ”Timey Wimey Wibbly Wobbly”
Cat: Sci-Fi!! And I am going to include on it my new short “Space Trek” 🙂 I am releasing exclusively on VCD in physical terms. Fans of time-travel elements, comedy (Blackadder is featured) and sci-fi will love it 😉
Alan: Have you played the superb Nobelia CD-I game, released by TWBurn in 2022?
Cat: I think it’s FANTASTIC that this new game has been so well received. Incredible. I applaud TWBurn for his work, and dedication to CD-i. Fabulous achievement. For his next project I’d love a decent FPS or a Track and Field game (Alan: We are still hoping that Skyways will be completed 😉 ). Track and Field could use FMV – for example, a view behind a javelin athlete on the run up and launch. Hit that 45 degree angle, get a counter up on distance, and the cd-i then chooses from several FMV clips on the landing of the spear. On races, 100M for example, various start of race FMV possibilities. Speed counter. Time counter. And depending on how good or bad you are, the CD-I would choose the correct finish line FMV. I volunteer to create and supply ALL FMV for the game. And music. From the intro to the medal ceremony 🙂
Alan: We have spoken about the possibility of Retro Shack releasing an interactive CD-I movie game in the future. Could this be a reality?
Cat: Oh yes! And here is a short teaser which I hope will whet everybody’s appetite… https://youtu.be/UI2rIMpCHmM
Alan: Finally, what advice would you give to someone who is thinking of releasing a new CD-I title?
Cat: Just go for it. Simple as. Turn your imagination/dream into reality. The process itself is so very rewarding. And in the CD-I community you will get full support.
Thanks ever so much to Cat for his time, and we at The World of CD-I hope you will enjoy all of his CD-I releases 😀
We at The World of CD-i are very proud to bring you some big news in the CD-i community – as I discovered when I caught up recently with our member CaptainJ! Please read on….
Alan: What first got you interested in CD-i and for how long have you collected?
CaptainJ: I can tell you the exact date I was interested in the CD-i! One night in September of 1993, I couldn’t sleep and decided to watch TV. In the middle of the night an infomercial (remember those!?) came on about this new machine that could play games, movies, music, and more. That was of course the Philips CD-i! It was called the “Meaning Of Life” Infomercial and as I watched it I become obsessed with this machine and everything it could do! I am a huge FMV fan, and seeing games, movies and more come out of this with the visuals that it had, while my SNES and Genesis could not do anything close to that, made me want it even more!
The problem of course was the price at launch, and being 15 years old at the time, this wasn’t going to happen! Fast forward to Christmas of 1995, the CD-i at my local store had dropped to $299 (for the 450 model), and I finally got it with copies of Link: Faces Of Evil, Tetris, and Hanna Barbara Cartoon Carnival. From that moment on I have been a collector and have never looked back! I was even featured in a 2007 issue of Tips and Tricks magazine for my CD-i collection at the time!
Funny ending to the infomercial story, because this was the early 90’s, and because I would not have known to record it on my VCR, I never got to see it repeated again. I looked for it for years and in the early 2000’s I started an extensive search. Since YouTube and other video sites weren’t there yet to help me find the video, I put out a $200 reward to many video game websites to help me find it. Finally, a few years later, a TV station from Philadelphia called me and told me they had the original master tapes in their archives and sold it to me! I took that one, and the “Serviceman” Infomercial that I purchased from them as well, digitized them and got them out to the internet! Make sure you check it out on YouTube 😉
Alan: You used to run a store which stocked an extensive range of CD-i software and hardware. Please tell us more about it…
CaptainJ: I have been in the video game industry since 1996, but in 2003 I opened a chain of stores in northeastern Ohio called World Of Games. At the time I was working with what was left of the CD-i, PmPro, to not only fill my own collection, but to buy in bulk for my stores as well. They sold me leftover games in bulk, as well as CD-i 470 models with DVCs included. I was getting titles like Burn: Cycle, Tell Me Why, Muzzy, Pecos Bill, and the Sesame Street titles for as little as $1.50 a copy if you can believe that!
CD-i had recently closed shop in the few years preceding that and it was great to not only cater to the existing fans that were still there and looking for products, but to educate a whole other generation of CD-i fans as well! I sold that company in 2006 and turned World Of Games into a consultant company for people that wanted to own their own video game store, but were not sure how to accomplish this. I would help them with locations, design, materials, distributing, and training and it was a great feeling to help other people realize a dream that I had myself many years prior.
After many years, World Of Games changed one last time to the publishing company we are today! You can visit us at World Of Games (worldofgamespublishing.com)
Alan: Why do you think that CD-i was not as popular in the US than in Europe?
CaptainJ: As with most of the systems at that time, and there are many, nothing could stop the juggernaut that was Nintendo and Sega’s marketing and anything that tried to compete with the two in the States generally failed. This trend continued until the Playstation was released, which, if you know your lore, has to do with how the Nintendo games got on the CD-i (look it up!)
I think the European and Japanese markets were more open minded about new products and because of that they got to enjoy some great systems and titles that the US overlooked. In terms of the CD-i, because of this appreciation, the European market had a much better install base, and in turn more titles to be had.
Alan: You are about to launch an exciting new CD-i project. Please tell us about it and how our members can purchase it..
CaptainJ: I am proud to announce today that World Of Games will be releasing its first title for the CD-i, Felix The Cat’s Giant Electronic Comic Book on 11/11/22! Many people have got to play the near completed versions that are available out there, but we purchased the complete version (known as 1.03) from a private collector and have published it in original CD-i packaging. I think everyone will be very happy with how it turned out and it looks identical to an official CD-i release from back in the day! You can pre-order starting today at worldofgamespublishing.com or, to honor all the collectors out there, philipscd-i.com!. We ship worldwide and we hope you enjoy our first title!
Alan: Why do you think CD-I remains so popular today, and can you foresee releasing more CD-i titles in the future?
CaptainJ: I think CD-i remains popular because people hold a special place in their hearts for it. Whether it is someone that was able to purchase it in the very beginning and experience a whole new world of entertainment that had not been seen up to that point, to someone like me that had to wait in anticipation for the price to drop to happen to afford it, to someone that discovered the system long after it discontinued, everyone has their own special CD-i story.
And I want that story to continue – which is why World Of Games is going to be working on more titles to publish for the CD-i right away! One of those titles I will be announcing within a month or so and it is another completed original unreleased title that I bought from another private collector… so let the anticipation begin! 😀 As far as beyond that, World Of Games is looking to hire a part time designer for someone with CD-i developing experience to work on some original titles! This is a paid position – so if you have interest, please contact us through the website.
Alan: Ultimately, if Philips had focused more on the games market from the start, do you think it could have been more popular worldwide, and a contender to PSOne, N64 for market share?
CaptainJ: I think it not only needed to focus on more games but ones that were easier to play when it came to the action, which was a big thing then. Those of you that have tried to play any Zelda CD-i title with the one-handed controller will know what I am talking about!
Not to say it didn’t need to have movies, edutainment, children’s etc, because that’s what made the system so special, but CD-i was so ahead of its time that people didn’t yet understand what they had before them. If you think about the PS5 and XBSX today, it can play games, it can play movies, it can go on the internet, all the things CD-i was doing 25+ years ago – but again no one related the true potential of this great piece of hardware.
It was all about getting the system into peoples’ hands, and while they still would have faced the challenges with the other systems as I mentioned above, I think there would have been a little more market share for Philips to pocket at that time. More games like Nobelia at or near the launch date could really have turned things around.
Alan: What did you think of TwBurn’s Nobelia game?
CaptainJ: I think it’s a true statement of what could have been on the system. Nobelia shows that CD-i was capable of doing things that it should have been doing more of, and why companies at that time didn’t pursue more of that we will never know. When the first original title from World Of Games comes out, I hope it’s half as good as this masterpiece! Thank you again TwBurn for all of your work! 😀
Alan: Finally, if you were forced to choose 1 CD-i title, 1 CD-i gadget/controller and 1 CD-i console to keep, which would they be and why?
CaptainJ: The system and controller are easy, and that’s the original CD-i 220 and its thumbstick controller (22ER9051) from the very beginning! The awesome casing and futuristic drawer with the opening door is what got me hooked first up.
As far as the titles that’s a tough one but if I could only pick one it might have to be Tetris! I competed in the Nintendo World Championship in 1990 and that was one of the games we played in the tournament, so it has been a lifelong favorite. Combine that with the incredible backgrounds and soothing music on the CD-i and this makes it a version of Tetris everyone should try out!
Huge thanks to CaptainJ for talking to me, and I wish him all the very best with Felix the Cat and future releases 😀
Jeffrey aka TwBurn, our website member, creator of the USB2CDi adapter is working on a brand new CD-i homebrew game called Nobelia!
We are talking about a Bomberman styled but with a female character.
A demo version is coming with 4 playable levels and it is the perfect time for an interview with this man who came to CD-i scene to bring some fresh air!
Read it now!