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
Emulated ~*

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, with an initial price of $799.

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 DVC libretro Retro
Accuracy FLOSS Active Recommended
Same CDi
Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD libretro core Mid
MAME Windows Linux macOS FreeBSD 0.261 Mid
CD-i Emulator Windows 0.5.3 beta 6
0.5.3 beta 4 (Patched)
~ Mid ~
TinyCDi Windows 2009-10-28 Mid
CeDImu Windows Linux None (pre-alpha) Low (WIP)
CD-iCE Windows Linux 2001-08-20 Low
Mobile / ARM
Same CDi
Android iOS libretro core Mid


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.
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 6, this will be at the end of 2023. 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]
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.
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.


Digital Video Cartridge

The one and only expansion card officially sold for the CD-i was the Gate Array MPEG Digital Video Cartridge (DVC), a hardware MPEG-1 video decoder which enabled 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 April 2023 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" />.