Philips CD-i emulators

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Philips CD-i
Developer Philips, Sony, Magnavox
Type Home video game console
Generation Fourth generation
Release date 1991
Discontinued 1998
Predecessor Philips Videopac + G7400

CD-I (Compact Disc Interactive), is a disk format developed and released by Philips in 1988. The first player aimed for home market was released on December 3, 1991.

The Main system ran on Microware OS-9 and had a Philips SCC68070 CPU at 15.5 MHz with 1MB of RAM. 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.


Name Platform(s) Latest Version libretro Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
Same CDi
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD libretro core Mid
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.252 Mid
TinyCDi Windows 2009-10-28 Mid ~
CD-i Emulator Windows 0.5.3 beta 4 (Patched) Mid ~ ~
CeDImu Windows Linux None (pre-alpha) Low (WIP)
CD-iCE Windows Linux 2001-08-20 Low


This multi-system emulator includes a driver for the CD-i, although support is incomplete as it still has no emulation for the Digital Video Cartridge as of July 2021.[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.
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, but it works better than the official MAME builds, especially with games like Zelda's Adventure for example. On the other hand, some games have more issues than they have on the official MAME build.
CD-i Emulator
A closed-source payware emulator. The latest public release, 0.5.3 beta 4, dates all the way back from 2018 and is unfortunately now unplayable (without a crack, anyway) due to the way that free trial timing is handled in the beta releases. The beta does have proof-of-concept emulation of the Digital Video Cartridge but compatibility may still be an issue[2]. Despite the long time between releases, this emulator is still in seemingly active development as of July 2021, 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[3][4].
A much newer independent project being actively developed by Stovent, largely based on a set of unofficial documentation by 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.
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 (no other game is supported).

Emulation issues[edit]

Digital Video Cartridge[edit]

At the moment, one of the biggest roadblocks to full compatibility with the CD-i library is proper emulation of the Gate Array MPEG Digital Video Cartridge (DVC), without which many games that use the chip to decode full-motion video are completely unplayable. Check MAME's CD-i hash list for games where the list includes <sharedfeat name="compatibility" value="DVC" />.