Here we are, back again, for The Last Official Release. Welcome. Within these words, we delve into the world of the last official games released for your favourite consoles. I’ve long since run through the major players from the 5th generation and downwards, so as the series continues more and more obscure consoles will be covered. A full list of what I’ve already featured can be found below, but today, we’re investigating the CD-i by Panasonic.
Now banished to the history pages of gaming on “how not to make a console”, Panasonic’s attempt at the 1990’s gaming market was not very successful. Instead of marketing the CD-i solely as a gaming machine, Panasonic referred to it as more of a general entertainment suite – CD-i stands for “Compact Disc Interactive” after all.
Sure, there were games, but a large portion of the software released was educational in nature ranging from digital encyclopedias (before the rise of Wikipedia) to self-help software. There were games, and of course, there was a last game as per the point of this article, but since the CD-i was more geared towards interactive media rather than gaming, it was underpowered when it came to the later. Most were FMV in nature, including a bunch of notoriously awful licenced Nintendo games based around Zelda and Mario. These are likely responsible for why Nintendo now keeps such an iron-fisted clench on its IP’s.
Regardless, while the console was originally launched in the December of 1991, Panasonic kept it stocked for retail until 1996 – and for some reason, it wasn’t discontinued until 1998. Panasonic was obviously keen to make a thing of the CD-i, but ultimately, it’s rumoured that sales barely scrapped a million units. Not a lot for a seven-year period, when you think about it.
What’s even more surprising, is that the final game didn’t see daylight until 1999. Solar Crusade was announced in 1996, the last year you might have seen the CD-i on a shop shelf, and even though a PC version made it out within the year, the CD-i port was delayed by another three. But hey, at least it was released before the millennium finished (anything seems possible with the CD-i’s timeline at this point).
A sequel to a game called Chaos Control (released 1995) Solar Crusade is again an on-rails shooter in a sci-fi setting. It was both developed and published by Infogrames. Aside from some complaints about how dark the game is overall and a few jankily animated cutscenes, the game seemed to be well-received at the time and a pleasant swansong to such a troubled console. The standout feature was the graphics, having been created using Softimage 3D and Silicon Graphics workstations, as well as the excellent audio. The gameplay gave a reasonable challenge and seems hectic enough for the right reasons – here’s a gameplay video I found that gives you a good idea of what it’s all about:
Previously, on The Last Official Release:
Atari Lynx – Super Asteroids & Missile Command (1995)
N-Gage – Civilization (2006)
Fairchild Channel F – Alien Invasion (1981)
Atari Jaguar – Worms (1998)
Virtual Boy – 3D Tetris (1996)
Sega Saturn – Undefined Japanese Game (2000)
Intellivision – Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball (1989)
Super Nintendo Entertainment System – Metal Slader Glory: Director’s Cut (2000)
Sega Genesis – Frogger (1998)
Sega Master System – Mickey’s Ultimate Challenge
Game & Watch – Mario the Juggler
PS1 – Schnappi: 3 Fun-Games
N64 – Tony Hawks Pro Skater 3
Game Gear – The Lost World: Jurassic Park
NES – The Lion King
Atari 2600 – Klax
Game Boy – Shikakei Atama o Kore Kusuru: Kanji/Keisan no Tatsujin
Dreamcast – Karous