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The Philips CD-i, released Nov. 2, 1991, not only boasted games in its library, but also some encyclopedia and "Edutainment" products, as well as feature length movies (which required an additional video card) providing digital home video releases before DVD entered the market. This device is probably best remembered for the late-night commercials that ran in the early 90s showing off its awesome power as a hapless man searched for the "meaning of life". The system eventually gives him his answer, after forcing him to play some tennis and other silly games. The system used CDs and also featured full motion video content. This was a good attempt by Phillips to enter the gaming market, but they would be trumped by Sony's PlayStation and its far superior 3D graphics rendering technology.
The system also suffered from a bit of an identity crisis. Upon release Philips did not wish to compete with the likes of Sega and Nintendo in the home console market, instead Phillips positioned the console as a "multi-media system" that could play videos, run applications and could act as an educational tool. There were games released during this time however, the vast majority of these were Edutainment titles, which most gaming kids did not wish to partake in. As time went on Phillips tried to position the system as a console that could compete with the likes of the Sega CD and 3DO, but by then it was too late and the vast majority of gamers did not take the console to be a serious contender, due to its high starting price and low library of games.
The system also has the notable distinction of being the only non- Nintendo console to have Mario and Zelda titles developed for it. This was because of a contractual obligation Nintendo had with Phillips, dating back to the SNES CD project. In total four such titles existed on the system, Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon, Zelda's Adventures and Hotel Mario. A fifth title, Super Mario Wacky Worlds was planned but never released. None of the titles were developed by Nintendo themselves, rather by third parties contracted out by Phillips, or Phillips themselves.
- 16-bit 68070 CISC Chip (68000 core)
- Resolution: 384×280 to 768×560
- Colors: 16.7 million w/ 32,768 on screen
- MPEG 1 Cartridge Plug-In for VideoCD and Digital Video
- CD-RTOS (based on Microware's OS-9)
- 1.5 MB of main RAM
- Single speed CD-ROM drive
- Weight with DV cart 1.460 kg, without DV 1.210 kg
- ADPCM eight channel sound
- 16-bit stereo sound
- CD-i mouse
- Roller controller
- CD-i trackball
- I/O port splitter
- Touchpad controller
- Gamepad controller (Gravis PC GamePad)
- IR wireless controller
- S-video cable