Gaming into the CD era
March 02, 2019


With the CD format taking over the media in genres like Music and PC usage and storage, it was a matter of time before someone rose from his chair and thought it would be a great idea if videogames would also move to the CD era as well. Such an idea was pretty bountiful, the format itself held a whole lot more than your basic cartridge and floppy disks at the time. It would also store other features created for said format such as video clips, sound, and superior graphic design along with FMV and 3D rendition capabilities. You would be a dummy not to ever consider the greatness of CD capabilities to use in gaming.

However in the early 90s the whole CD revolution started a bit shaky when it came to consoles. Although SEGA seemed to be the first to tell ambitious gamers about their SEGA CD project, Philips would jump ahead to make CD gaming a reality ahead of anyone else. I remember a commercial promo on TV speaking about the CD-i, when an ominous voice inviting some normal looking guy to ask anything. The man in question would ask what was the meaning of life and said voice would just beat around the bus by zapping a CD-i controller on his hands, goading him to start playing with the system as clips of games that were to be sold on it appeared. Soon enough the man in question simply forgot about that particular question after smiling broadly about how great said console was.

Sadly, this was all talk and not much else. While the CD-i did promise the next step into gaming, it did so by showcasing some very lackluster games like Hotel Mario and Link the Faces of Evil. The system was launched in December 1991 in America, earlier than the SEGA CD and the 3DO but seemingly, it was so rushed that it did not provide any real reason to buy it and consider it the next big thing for gamers. Especially when said system was hundreds of dollars above the likes of the SEGA Genesis and SNES, systems that were very well loved by gamers young and old alike. The competition was very stiff and the CD-i simply marched away from it all, having to carry the disgrace on its shoulders for being remembering mostly by having bad Nintendo-licensed games.

SEGA however seemed to had planned things carefully and in a more productive way with their SEGA CD system, an add-on you could use along with the Genesis which was brought into the market in October '92 for the US. It helped that SEGA was already a videogame-focused company and with titles like Sonic CD and Snatcher, two very memorable and very playable games along with the likes of Final Fight and Shining Force CD, SEGA pretty much covered most of the bases in a variety of genres for gamers while using the CD format.

It was also a great way to show off FMV and animated graphic games, even though some like Dragonís Lair seem very washed out and grainy. Another feature of the SEGA CD would be its excellent sound which let out some rocking tunes in some of its games. There are still other gems for the SEGA CD despite its limitations and it is quite revered more like a prototype for later systems like the SEGA Saturn and Dreamcast in terms of using the most of the CD format capabilities. Even if it had a very short run in the market, the SEGA CD had a good portion of success and it was one of the few CD based consoles that were successful before the 32-bit era showed up.

The 3DO came along in October 1993 and it went head on against SEGA during the short CD gaming era. Created by Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins, the 3DO had a solid reputation to become a legitimate gaming console using the CD format. Of course, with all this talk of being a cutting age system came the infamous overly priced gimmick that the CD-i suffered from and it was not very accessible by most because of that one thing alone. The system would include its own light gun and mouse besides their gaming controllers along with a steering wheel for racing games. Those who were able to experience the system enjoyed title ports of Alone in the Dark and Myst, along with other titles like Gex the gecko, which became another popular gaming mascot during the 90s. Samurai Shodown and Super Street Fighter II Turbo were the best adaptations on the system. Seemingly, there was nothing to stop 3DO from having a long gaming life span but this sadly was not the case. Along with facing other companies in creating their own CD based projects like Atari's Jaguar CD and Nintendo's Project Reality (Which became the Nintendo 64 later on,) the 3DO seemed to start becoming less confident in being the most successful CD-ROM based system. But the reality of it all was that unless you had about $700 dollars stored around at that time, then you would not had been one of those 3DO owners. It also would continue using FMVs which by then it was just getting tiresome if it wasn't already. I would also add that with the Sony PlayStation becoming such a powerhouse in 32-Bit gaming since its debut may have intimidated the 3DO into submission at more than half the price to get and its enormous library of games that launched with it.

Other companies like Nintendo tried to jump into the whole CD ambition, but we all know how that went when it talked with Sony about it. Atari also brought in ideas for the Jaguar CD but it fell flat on its face. Lastly, Nintendo would try once more nabbing the CD-ROM gaming idea by having an add-on for the N64 but quite frankly, the thought of naming the N64 DD seemed...ridiculous. Its also worthy to note that Nintendo and Atari were going to follow SEGA on its SEGA CD footsteps with this idea, something that would not had ended well either way.

Whether or not these early CD based systems were the next big thing it was a sure thing that it opened the way for more successful consoles like Sony's PlayStation and the SEGA Dreamcast later on. Of course the SEGA Saturn had its share of success, but unfortunately SEGA didn't seem to take good care of its existence...I type this while glaring at something called the 32X mind you.

Thanks for reading; I am open to hear about anything that would seem misleading about my rant here. I also am looking for any who had their experiences on owning a console since I never had the opportunity when such were around in the market. One last tidbit I will add is that I will celebrate another mortal year this March 19, so I open this Month with this article about those CDs and their play in gaming while hoping for birthday wishes early. You all have a nice day now.

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