Philips CD-i emulators

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Philips CD-i
CD-i-910-Console-Set.png
Developer Philips, Sony, Magnavox
Type Home video game console
Generation Fourth generation
Release date December 3, 1991
Discontinued 1998
Introductory price $799.
Predecessor Philips Videopac + G7400
Emulated ~*

CD-I (Compact Disc Interactive), is a disk format and media player developed and released by Philips. The Main system ran on Microware OS-9 and had a Philips SCC68070 CPU at 15.5 MHz with 1MB of RAM. Some Third-Party manufacturers made their own media players based on the CD-I format & technology.

The CD-I was never meant to be a video game console, it was designed to be a "Interactive Multimedia" CD player, an expensive toy that people with money don't mind buying, using it a few times and forgetting they even bought it when something new catches their attention. When the system started to show signs of being a major flop for Philips, they pivoted the direction of the CD-I into the uncharted territories of video games.

CD-I is mainly known nowadays for having games based on Nintendo IP, such as Mario and Zelda, due to previously having tried to develop a CD add-on for the SNES. Their takes on Nintendo intellectual property were so infamously terrible that you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't think of them when you mention the CD-i. However, there were a few cult classic games for the system.

Emulators[edit]

Name Platform(s) Latest Version Hardware features
and accessories
Enhancements FLOSS Active Recommended
PC / x86
Same CDi
same_cdi_libretro
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD libretro core ~
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.262 ~ *
CD-i Emulator Windows 0.5.3 beta 7
0.5.3 beta 7 (Patched)
~ ? ~
TinyCDi Windows 2009-10-28 ? ?
CeDImu Windows Linux None (pre-alpha) ? ? (WIP)
CD-iCE Windows Linux 2001-08-20
Mobile / ARM
Same CDi
same_cdi_libretro
Android iOS libretro core ~

Comparisons[edit]

MAME
This multi-system emulator includes a driver for the CD-i, although support is incomplete as it still has no DVC emulation.[1] Starting the game from disc is recommended; this can be done with the built-in frontend by picking the specific game or through a soft reset after mounting the disc. MAME is also currently the only program to provide CD-i emulation through a libretro core, which makes it the easiest and the most stable method of emulating the CD-i for now. Compared to CD-i Emulator 0.5.3 beta 4, MAME is generally easier to control and can better emulate the audio for some games.
Same CDi
SAME CDi is a S(ingle) A(rcade) M(achine) E(mulator) for libretro, just like NeoCD (neocd_libretro) forked from MAME libretro, which is in turn a fork of MAME. It includes only the Philips CD-i driver, and simplifies the loading of CD content to provide a 'plug and play' experience.
TinyCDi
An unofficial build of MESS from 2009 made by one of MAME's active developers, Haze. This build is named such that it only focuses on the CD-i. It uses a fixed game list. Some games have more issues than they have on the official MAME build.
CD-i Emulator
This emulator by CD-i Fan is currently closed-source donationware, with vague plans to move to open-core at a future date.[2] The public beta releases unfortunately handle free trial timing in a way that makes them unusable (without cracking, anyway) after set calendar dates; for the latest beta, 0.5.3 beta 7, this will be at 2025/01/01. The current betas do have proof-of-concept DVC emulation, although compatibility may still be an issue.[3] Despite the long time between releases, this emulator is still in active development as of April 2023, with work being done on the next version (likely called 0.6) that reportedly supports most of the DVC games and also has several other improvements.[4]
CeDImu
A much newer independent project being actively developed by Stovent, largely based on an unofficial documentation set written by CD-i Fan (the creator of CD-i Emulator).[5] As of July 2021, it's progressing quickly but still in pre-alpha, so don't expect it to boot any games just yet.
CD-iCE
One of the earliest CD-i emulators. It doesn't need a BIOS, but it was only developed to be able to play Rise of the Robots and does not support anything else.

Enhancements[edit]

Name Same CDi MAME
Graphics Resizable Internal Resolution For emulation of 2D systems, the resolution can only be upscaled, making the pixels more apparent.
Widescreen hack ? ?
Sprite Replacement ? ?
Performance Overclock ? ?
Internal Framerate Hack ? ?
Frame generation technologies
(LSFG, DLSS-G, ExtraSS and AFMF)
Implementing frame generation technology in an emulator is unfortunately quite challenging and unlikely to be feasible in the near future, however post-processing techniques such as motion interpolation is quite possible. Input latency will be a crucial factor, but its impact likely varies depending on the specific technique employed, it's recommended to use after applying the "Internal Framerate Hack".
While AFMF or LSFG can be used with MAME, please be aware that some visual glitches and artifacts may occur at this time.
Preload optical disc image to RAM
For users with sluggish multi-platter HDDs or plagued by horrible seek times, this enhancement might offer smoother experience, potentially reduced power consumption; it also shines when disc images reside on a network drive.
Although keep in mind that preloading image would take some time, and it will require additional amount of RAM capacity.
? ?
Post-Processing Post-rendering AA
(FXAA, TXAA and MLAA/SMAA)
?
Post-rendering scaling
(Sharp bilinear, Lanczos and FSR 1)
Filters
NTSC filters, HDR tonemapping etc.
Shader Chain
TAS features Macros/Scripts/Lua ? ?
Rewind ? ?
Fast-Forward/Turbo Speed ? ?
Savestates ? ?
Movie recording/playback ? ?
Controls Input lag-mitigating technique ? ?
Quality of life Per-Game Profiles
Command Line Options
Streamable compression format
Built-in Graphics mod editor/manager
Built-in Cheat Manager ? ?
Big Picture Mode
Built-in Custom resolution/CRTSwitchRes
For using this on Windows OS you need CRT Emudriver.
Another option is using EDID editor tool such as "Custom Resolution Utility".
Exclusive to libretro cores and GroovyMAME at the moment.
Also there is a project for achieving software emulators like libretro cores and GroovyMAME send the raw RGB data over a network to a core running on MiSTer, it basically turns the MiSTer into a GPU for the emulator allowing for easy setup and use with CRT TVs/Arcade monitors.
Misc Netplay ? ?
Free Look
Free Look is a enhancement feature that allows manipulation of the in-game camera.
While freecam would be technically possible, it will require per-game patches.
Said patches would require a significant amount of time to reverse the game's engine, which means that only someone talented with enough dedication to a single game could do it.
RetroAchievements
Debug Features ? ?

Hardware features and accessories[edit]

Name Same CDi MAME CD-i Emulator CeDImu
Digital Video Cartridge * ~*
CD-Online ? ? ? ?

Digital Video Cartridge[edit]

The one and only expansion card officially sold for the CD-i was the MPEG Digital Video Cartridge (DVC), a hardware MPEG-1 video decoder which enabled CD-i Digital Video and Video CD playback as well as enhanced FMV capabilities for games that support it (similar to the Sega Saturn's Video CD Card). As of January 2024 there is no emulator that fully supports the DVC, and several games that rely on MPEG-1 video decoding will be pretty much unplayable without that support. To know whether your chosen games require the DVC, either check the "DVC status" column of Wikipedia's CD-i game list, or check MAME's CD-i hash list for games where the list includes <sharedfeat name="compatibility" value="DVC" />.

See this dedicated page for more information about home media playback support for emulation softwares.

References[edit]