Compact Disc-Interactive, known more commonly as CD-i, is a multimedia format for optical discs developed by Philips and first used in devices in 1990. It was designed to be an extremely versatile format featuring the ability to handle music, video, pictures, text, karaoke, and interactive software like video games.
Philips produced their own CD-i home consoles and also licensed the technology to over a dozen companies. The format was announced in 1986, ready for development by 1988, started seeing public applications by 1990, but home players didn't reach the market until 1991. Although the format was designed with entertainment, educational, and training applications in mind, CD-i never took off in any of those areas because CD-ROM had beaten it to market. Instead, CD-i really only became known for its video games, and, even then, it didn't do very well. By 1994, the format was struggling and Philips tried to rekindle interest by opening the format and no longer requiring licensing, but it didn't help, and, by 1998, Philips discontinued the format.
During the 1990s, I only knew of one person who owned a CD-i player. A neighbor of mine with rich parents had bought him and his brother one (probably a CDI 910). Always eager to try a new video game console, I suggested we play it, but he said it was boring. I think the only game he had for it was Mystic Midway: Rest in Pieces. I played it for a little bit, then asked him, "is this it?" The game was just a dull shooting gallery that tried to look impressive with full-motion video, but it was pretty lame.
There were many different CD-i capable consoles made by companies like Philips, Magnavox, GoldStar, LG Electronics, Sony, and several others. Some companies released models only in specific nations. Probably the most popular console, at least in the USA, was the CDI 910, which is a special American-only version of the CDI 205.
- See all CD-i Games.
Around 200 games were made using the CD-i format. Philips had a very hard time attracting third party developers, and none of the popular game makers of the time developed CD-i titles. Nintendo did license a couple Mario and Zelda titles to settle a contract dispute, but they're particularly bad. In fact, most of the games for the console are underwhelming and universally panned. For example, there is a complete boxed title that consists of nothing but a basic game of Connect Four. The few decent games made for the CD-i were ported over from dedicated gaming platforms on which they play much better.