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Obscure 90’s CD based consoles

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Ive recently become very interested in these lesser known and obscure 90s CD based consoles, particularly the:

 

Apple Pippin

Bandai Playdia

CDTV

Memorex VIS

 

Was wondering if anyone grew up with one or more of these or collects for any of them now? Theres always YouTube review videos and wiki articles but Im more interested in personal experiences with the systems and games for them, maybe advice or suggestions for aspiring collectors, any info will do! Hope theres others that share my same interest in these consoles!

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There was a brief period where I begged my mom for a VIS.

 

I'm very, very glad she said no.

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CD32 is as "obscure" as I go these days. Have a couple of expansions that basically turn it into an Amiga 1200, so it's more than super useful and fun that way. Like most of the real CD32 titles too... games with CD soundtracks and actually use more than one button on the controller. lol Pinball Fantasies is excellent - best version of the game I've ever played. Instead of being forced to use a keyboard (not a fan), use the shoulder buttons to flip.

 

I had super high hopes for the PC-FX BITD, but boy did that system disappoint. I mean seriously, WTF NEC? You had virtual gold with the PC Engine line and then... ?!

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I was tempted to get a PC-FX in recent times, but honestly it seems it has one good shooting game, and most games do not have any translations...

Edited by Newsdee

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I was tempted to get a PC-FX in recent times, but honestly it seems it has one good shooting game, and most games do not have any translations...

The poor thing tanked so badly in the market that most of the games look like the developers were starved for cash.

 

Zeroigar is pretty good, and its story and anime is absolutely *excellent* for a shmup (which is why I did the programming for the translation) ... but there is not that much else on the system that I find interesting.

 

The most fascinating thing about the console to me is that Hudson/NEC created a 3D chip for it, and then never offered it to PC-FX owners.

 

But, if you buy a PC-FXGA expansion card for an IBM-PC/PC-9801, then you can get to play with the 3D chip, and see what-might-have-been.

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I buy the occasional new boxed CD32 release, but second hand prices are getting into Jag pricing territory. Not worth it unless its really special.

 

And if numbers are really correct, @20K units the Jag CD must be the MOST obscure of all, even though everyone (ie. gamers in general) seems to know about it. Strange...

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Ive recently become very interested in these lesser known and obscure 90s CD based consoles, particularly the:

 

Apple Pippin

Bandai Playdia

CDTV

Memorex VIS

 

....

Can I ask you why did you get interested?

 

Usually one goes into "obscure" territory once he's done with mainstream, the depth at which each one dips into obscurity differs.

 

My reason for going into some obscurities of the '90 (PC-FX, FM-Towns Marty, CD32, GX-4000) was that I had collected the rest (including a Jag-CD) may as well experience something "different" [and couldn't really get much into 8bits or late 70s aside the usual suspects] .... I almost got myself also a Pippin, CDTV and Super A'can but managed to stop as my trend was at that point obvious to me .... discover something obscure, obsess about it, put it in the back-burner for a few months, buy it anyway, giddy-up once it shows up at the door .... then feel absolutely nothing and jump onto the next one just because I could.

 

What are your reasons? Or expectations?

 

For example:

my reason for the Pippin was because of the ports of Marathon and Marathon 2 from Bungie, the precursors of the Halo franchise on the XBox(es)

the CDTV just because it is more compatible with Xenon II CDTV than a CD32 (obviously but ....)

Super A'can just because it's so weird/niche and at the time for other reasons I had been in Taiwan 3 times in 2Y

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Personally I would skip the thoughts of this old hardware, because it's bound to disappoint unless you simply "gotta catch em all."

 

The one Pippin game worth playing, Marathon, is playable via the open source port, "Aleph One." https://alephone.lhowon.org

 

CDTV was superseded by CD32 which was also pretty poor but is readily emulated.

 

The other two ....well, blecchhh, but like Phoenix said, what's your interest? Just curiosity? There's probably not that much of a story to tell.

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If I'm not mistaken, CD32 games work on Amiga emulators relatively easily.

 

I guess one may want to have hardware on the shelf, or own a machine that one saw back in the day that left a mark. That is pretty much the reason why I got a SuperGrafx some time ago :)

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I thought the 3DO had the weirdest CD games of the 90s (Zhadnost, The Daedalus Encounter for example), until I bought a Philips CD-i bundle with lots of games. And I am not talking about the in-famous Zelda games (Faces of Evil, Wand of Gamelon et al), but about the titles by Infogrames and those licensed by Children's Computer Workshop. Educative games starred by Jim Henson's creatures (A Visit to Sesame Street series) and bizarre arcade-adventures like Kether (Infogrames, 1993), which mixes logical minigames with action-gameplay similar to that of Tintin on The Moon for 8 bit computers. Seems that Infogrames recycled 8-bit games, or ideas from their 8-bit games, for the Philips console.

 

On the 3DO you had Psygnosis, Interplay, Bullfrog and Electronic Arts, on the CD-i you had Radarsoft and their obscure Zenith. The reply to Novastorm was Burn:Cycle, but fortunately Dragon's Lair or Flashback were available for both. Now I can't decide which one I would choose to keep if I had to part with the other :-D

Edited by deepfb

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The early CD-age of consoles is technologically interesting, but a big disappointment in the software department generally.

 

CDs was so damn dirt cheap to press so any schmuch could make games for it. It's more than 1983 levels of shit software that hit the games back then. New tech + cheap software means a lot of companies that didn't have any business dealing with consoles or software to enter the market and not know what to do.

 

Ugh... and the droves of "edutainment" games. Seems like every company had some belief that the kids wanted to learn stuff on their systems, not have fun.

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Personally I would skip the thoughts of this old hardware, because it's bound to disappoint unless you simply "gotta catch em all."

 

The one Pippin game worth playing, Marathon, is playable via the open source port, "Aleph One." https://alephone.lhowon.org

 

CDTV was superseded by CD32 which was also pretty poor but is readily emulated.

 

The other two ....well, blecchhh, but like Phoenix said, what's your interest? Just curiosity? There's probably not that much of a story to tell.

 

They all pretty much suck. The only exception I'll add is Defender of the Crown 2 for the CD32 / Amiga.

Note not the best gameplay ever but the graphics were just amazing for the time.

 

Edited by thetick1
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The one Pippin game worth playing, Marathon, is playable via the open source port, "Aleph One." https://alephone.lhowon.org

 

or on mac computers, its not all that good, its not bad but it was a wolf 3d type game in the age of quake

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The Pippin is not worth it. A couple of the games actually worth playing are available elsewhere (Marathon, Shockwave), and whether those are truly worthwhile experiences in this day and age is a matter of preference (personally, I can do without Shockwave). The only other game I found fun, and as a fan of pinball, was Tropic Island. But it's not worth dropping the $400 or whatever it costs to buy a system these days.

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Ugh... and the droves of "edutainment" games. Seems like every company had some belief that the kids wanted to learn stuff on their systems, not have fun.

 

I could be wrong (and often am), but I suspect it had more to do with targeting a market of parents (and grandparents) who'd be far more willing to buy something "educational" for the kids, especially if it was cheap.

 

And edutainment games had to have been cheaper to develop -- which, with less cost to recoup, would indeed translate to a lower MSRP.

 

I own two VIS games I got for super-cheap, and I enjoy a bit of edutainment now and then, but I have no system. How's VIS emulation these days? Can the games run semi-natively under certain flavors of Windows, or with the right DLLs?

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I could be wrong (and often am), but I suspect it had more to do with targeting a market of parents (and grandparents) who'd be far more willing to buy something "educational" for the kids, especially if it was cheap.

 

Yes that was the marketing idea. It was just plain wrong just like after the video game industry crash of '83 the same thought prevailed that you can still sell educational computers, but you'll never be able to sell a video game system in large numbers again. Nintendo proved them wrong the first time with the NES and Sony proved them wrong the second time with the PS1.

Edited by thetick1

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http://www.videogameconsolelibrary.com/pg90-vis.htm#page=reviews



The VIS was essentially a stripped down Windows PC in a VCR style casing. A 16-bit Intel 80286 processor running at 12.5 MHz powered the system that produced games in 16.7M colors at a resolution of 640x480. A customized version of Windows 3.1 (Modular Windows) is the backbone of the system and audio\video performance. At the time, this was quite antiquated in terms of overall technical horsepower. The chassis itself does not even merit further dialog, as the picture of this system obviously displays. Wireless controllers were a nice touch and did differentiate it from its competitors, but the button alignment and offerings mirrors the chassis - nothing to write home about. The media choice was sound as all VIS titles were released on CD-ROM (Audio CD was also supported). So what about those titles?

Almost ALL VIS titles can be categorized into the edutainment genre with about 50% of those targeted directly to children ...


This sounds absolutely dire, especially after the passing of so much time. I don't think you could pay me to bother with VIS.

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or on mac computers, its not all that good, its not bad but it was a wolf 3d type game in the age of quake

However Marathon 2 is pretty good even if it pretty much is a Doom clone.

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Yeah, the VIS is easily the worst console I've played, makes the CD-i look like a masterpiece. I only have one because it popped up on Craigslist years ago for, I think, $40 including about 30 games. Weirdly, just a few weeks later I got a bunch more disks brand new for $1 each at a thrift, apparently dumped there by a local Radio Shack. Never saw VIS stuff in the wild before or since.

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and $699 back then is like $1300 now. Just a few years later the 486 would be everywhere, and one could put together a cheap PC setup for about the same price and about 6x the power -- plus it would actually play games and could use the nascent internet.

 

The Memorex VIS is only recommended for the true console collector - not at all for the gamer of any level. With only around 11,000 units sold, the system is rather hard to come by. Expect to pay a fair amount to acquire one of these units. Since the VIS is sometimes mistaken for a standard CD player, you might be able to grab it for $20 from someone who doesn't know what they truly have.
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And the promo video is one of worst I have ever seen with at bluebird MC. Note they show King Quest V as a title in the promo while stating the latest in interactive games but certainly promote the Encyclopedia as the flagship software product... even includes gourmet cooking. VIS is TV you can really hoot over. Argh.. Excuse me I have to go vomit.

 

Edited by thetick1
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Looks like it's possible to run VIS software under plain-vanilla Windows 98SE, if you add the right DLLs to the mix:

 

https://www.betaarchive.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=30107

 

It's flaky, but functional, judging from reports. Unfortunately the only vintage PC I have is running Windows XP, but maybe I can find a way to slap 98SE on a second HD.

 

The main thing that has me curious about this system is The Secrets of Hosea Freeman, a whaling-related game that allegedly creeped out a bunch of kids who played it.

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