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 😀