games / Columns

The Hall of Shame 09.19.07: The Nintendo Phillips CD-I Games

September 19, 2007 | Posted by Vincent Chiucchi

As many people know, the history of how Sony entered the video game market and became one of the big three hardware giants is amazing. It all started in 1989 when Nintendo and Sony were going to team up to create a console that would play SNES games and a new Sony based CD-ROM format. But when Hiroshi Yamauchi found out that Sony would have complete control over games written on the SNES CD-ROM format, he quietly canceled the plans between Nintendo and Sony and instead made a new deal with Phillips. Sony would be understandably pissed and didn’t want their hard work gone to waste, so they decided to enter the console market themselves and make the PlayStation a stand alone console. The rest, as they say, is history.

Meanwhile, Nintendo decided to make a deal with Phillips for a CD based console, but that fell through and instead Phillips got the license to create games based on Nintendo franchises. So how good did they turn out? Here’s a hint: It’s the latest induction into the Hall of Shame.

The Phillips CD-i was a $500 media player that played music CD’s, karaoke CDs, and Video CDs. It was mostly meant for educational and music purposes, not for video games. So of course you can already tell that these games aren’t going to be more then decent. The four Nintendo based games on the CD-I were Hotel Mario, Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: Wand of Gamelon, and Zelda’s Adventure. Yes, they made not just one but THREE bad Legend of Zelda games. Talk about a triforce of suckage. But just what makes these games so bad?

For one thing, the graphics are just horrible. Of course, Nintendo fanboys are always quick to point out that “Graphics aren’t everything!”, but even they have a standard of what is not acceptable. Just check out some of these pics:

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Is it me or has Mario’s ass gotten more fat then should be? I knew he used to be a bit pudgy back then but DAMN. Link on the other hand looks like a lady with the pinks lips and a lot more hair then he should have. And you thought Wind Waker Link was bad. Ganon seems more dog-like rather then pig-like, and HOLY CRAP is he ever more fugly then usual! But as time goes on, you’ll soon see that these two aren’t even the worst looking in the Zelda bunch.

But before we get to them, first we got to take a stop at the Hotel Dusk Mario.

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The object of this game is to go around the hotels closing all the doors. I don’t know how exactly they’re able to save the princess this way and destroy the hotel, but this is going to be the least of my confusion.

So the game starts off with Mario and Luigi being invited to a picnic by the princess. “I hope she made lots-a spaghetti!” says Luigi. Who brings spaghetti to a picnic? Anyway, Mario finds a note from Bowser explaining that he kidnapped her and Mario will have to go through the koopa hotels to rescue her. But here, the 4th wall breaks apart as Mario tells us that we’re too clueless on how to play this damn game, we should read the instruction book. I don’t know about you, but I find it strange for Mario to tell me to be reading the instruction book. It just feels wrong for him to be saying that. What then follows is hours of boring gameplay littered with nonsensical cutscenes, like this one:

In the second stage the lights keep going on and off, and in order to make the lights stop flickering you have to find the room causing it. Mario finds the room and discovers the reason for the lights going on and off is due to…too many toasters?

This video just leads to all sorts of confusion. “All toasters toast toast!” What the hell is that supposed to mean? And who the hell ever said something like that, Homsar? I figured Google or Wikipedia would provide answers, but instead they lead me back to Mario saying it. Also, if those toasters were unplugged, how would they able to pop the toast like that? And why the hell does he have all those toasters in the first place? And where did Mario get some of that sourpuss bread? Couldn’t the writers have come up with something better for the lighting problem?

But it gets more mind boggling then that. As the princess constantly gets kidnapped and taken to another Hotel, the methods as to how get dumb. I can tolerate a cave blowing up and getting separated from Mario (same thing happened in Mario RPG), but at one point, the princess simply disappears into thin air for no real reason. Not once, but TWICE! Why the hell does the princess just keep disappearing into thin air? Is this why she gets kidnapped so easily? But then again, can’t she just disappear and escape just as easily?

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One moment she’s safe, and the next she’s not. Mario’s right, it’s really been “one of those days”

So after you’ve defeated Bowser by shutting all the doors in his hotel, you’re treated to this horrendous ending:

So besides the audio being terrible (I don’t know if it’s because of the game or the video), they say “You’re the best player ever!” Patronization at it’s finest. Whatever happened to a simple “Thank you for playing?” And how exactly am I the best player ever when you kept giving me hints such as reading the instruction manual and gave me the ridiculous challenge of closing doors?! You think I’m five years old or something?! Screw you Mario Bros! Screw you and the princess disappearing into thin air!

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Now this game pains me greatly because Link finally gets a game with his name on it instead of Zelda’s and it sucks. Well at least we don’t have to rescue Zelda this time. Instead, Ganon and his evil friends (yes, “evil friends” is how the manual refers them as) has seized the land of Koridai, and it’s all up to Link. Instead of playing in the traditional Zelda manner, the game plays like a sidescroller with a terrible controls.

Unfortunately, the Link we all know and love is made to sound like a goofball. Watch and listen to the horror of it all:

You know, between this Link and the Link from the cartoon going “Well excuuuuuuse ME princess!”, I’m glad Link became mostly mute. On a side note, the manual does more then refer to Ganon’s minions as his “evil friends”. They also point out how in the game, red rupees are worth 1, green are worth 5, and blue are worth 10. Way to stick to the source material morons. Also, it details a very important news flash!

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What in the name of Squalala is this?! So we DO have to save the damn princess?! C’mon! Don’t they have the triforces to protect them from crap like this? I wonder if she simply disappeared into thin air as well.

After hours of looking at the most ugliest of people and hearing the worst of voices and playing with the worst of controls, we reached the final part of the game, the boss fight with Ganon. The boss fight with Ganon is always the most epic and exciting part of playing a Zelda game. There’s no way they could’ve screw this up…could they?

Oh yes they did! You throw a book at him and it’s freaking over! Ganon, the lord of evil who can taken on different human forms, was defeated by simply having a book send him into a BUUUUURNING pit! After that comes the horrible ending, where Link still can’t get any. Seriously, fuck you Zelda. It isn’t like you’re any better then Link. I’d like to see YOU go on a monotonous quest to save someone!

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Well what do you know, she actually is. This one is about the king of Hyrule going to Gamelon to help stop Ganon, because lord knows Link’s been doing it too many damn times. A month later (or “months” according to the terrible manual), the king didn’t return, so Link is once again sent out to be the hero. Only for some reason, he fucks up as well, so Zelda gets off her and does something for once. The intro is bad for two big reasons. One, Zelda does this weird motion with her arms when she says her fathers been gone for a month. Two, there’s this pointless bit where the king asks “What’s for dinner?”, and Link is so hungry he can eat an octorok.

And despite how powerful their triforces are, they don’t seem to help them at all. Useless golden (or blue apparently) pieces of crap.

What I hate about both games is that any time you want to walk up to someone and talk to them, you have to hit them with your sword. Looks very awkward. The manual tries to pass it off as you hitting them with a “Smart Sword”, where “striking kind-hearted creatures makes them talk.” You really can’t get much lamer then that.

Anyways, this is exactly like Link: Faces of Evil. Bad controls, bad music, bad graphics, and weird conversations like this one:

This is quite possibly the most random cutscene out of all the CD-I games, because at first I had no idea what the hell was going on. Apparently they got captured and taken to a tower, but you’d think they’d have better reactions then saying “This is illegal you know.”

So after you stop Ganon’s minions (they’re minions this time instead of evil friends) from performing their illegal actions, you reach Ganon’s lair where Zelda looks bored as hell, probably because of the crappy adventure she just went through. The boss fight with Ganon arrives, and well, care to guess that this one will be just as disappointing as the last time?

Yep, it’s exactly the same damn thing as Faces of Evil, and Zelda still looks bored as hell through the whole thing. Terrible ending ensues, including the WORST. LOOKING. LAUGHS. EVER.

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Three words: Live. Action. Zelda.

Seriously, every time I see that video I almost want to fall asleep. As we’ve seen from full motion videos and video game movies, live action does not work 99% of the time. Granted, the people who made this one at least made it more of a Zelda game by doing a top-down prospective and allowing you to freely explore dungeons, but c’mon: WHY is it live action?! Plus, the story is that Gannon (probably Ganon’s cousin) has not only taken over Tolemac, but captured Link. So this nameless wizard found the brave warrior Princess Zelda and has sent her to rescue. Now seriously, doesn’t that sound like they got it backwards? Shouldn’t Zelda be the one kidnapped and Link be the brave warrior who rescues her? They make it look like Zelda and Link have no idea who they are. There’s really nothing more to say about this one. I mean, it’s LIVE ACTION.

So there you have. Four abominations in the Hall of Shame. Instead of remaining #1 in the video game industry by working with Sony, Nintendo decided to let Phillips make abortions of two beloved franchises and stuck with cartridges, while Sony released the PlayStation, got new AAA franchises like Final Fantasy 7, Metal Gear Solid, Gran Turismo, and more. Sony would be number one in the console wars and would remain that for the next 11 years.

But hey, you know what they say. All toasters toast toast!


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Vincent Chiucchi
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