Oct 8, 2006

CD gaming from the (very) late 80s

It was 1992 when CD-ROMs became widely available to us gnomes. And, let me tell you, we were thoroughly impressed. Even felt like digital entertainment pioneers, like taking part in some sort of video game revolution. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective (mobygames entry here) in FMV astonished us more than C-3PO astonished the (much hated) ewoks, and Sierra's Jones in the Fast Lane (mobygames entry here) made us hopelessly worship the new medium.
The Sound Blaster Pro. The gnomes' entrance to CD gaming.

Little did we know how outdated we were. How pathetically passe, even by the low late-adapting standards of gnomish society.

You see, oh patient and wise reader, CD gaming had hit the mainstream gaming market since the late 80s. The very late 80s actually, or to be more precise since December 1989, when Codemasters (then publishers of such classics as Dizzy, Ghostbusters and Jet Bike Simulator, now found here) released their famous CD Games Pack, an impressive collection of 30 games all on one CD. The compilation was available for 8-bit home computers like the Amstrad CPC, the Spectrum and the Commodore 64.

The CD Games Pack. Obviously via Blitz Games.

On to some impressive CD Games Pack facts, then (besides of course providing then-next-gen fun to 8-bit owners):

a) No CD-ROM drive was needed, as any audio CD-player would do. Loading software (on tape or disc) and a cable (connecting the CD player to the joystick port) were provided to make said miracle happen.

b) The games loaded faster and more reliably than their tape counterparts.

c) It didn't cost much more than an average game.

d) It was a definite commercial flop. Go figure...

[UPDATE] Apparently the brilliant online version of the fondly remebered CRASH magazine has a review of the CD Games Pack. Read it here.

More retro stuff @ Gnome's Lair: 385 NES games for free, the Atari 2600 GUI, OXO: the first video game ever, Save a Dreamcast

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  1. I remember this! Presumably the main reason it failed was because the games were all aging budget titles, so there was a good chance you already owned the best games on the CD. Otherwise it might have been considered a real bargain, £30 for 30 games that probably retailed at £2.99 each. Typically variable budget-level quality though, I'm not sure whether "Advanced Jet Ski Simulator" was the sort of thing people really wanted to play.

    Regardless, it was such a clever innovation. Things like this are why I love Codemasters. Well, this and the fact they gave us the Dizzy games :D

  2. Wisely spoken, oh kde.

    May I just say that the Jet Ski Simulator was (still is) really quite a personal favorite. Simple, but well designed fun... Didn't look half bad either...

    Anyway. Thanks for the comment! Most enlightening, as most here will definitely agree.


  3. This came and went and I knew nothing about it..... (checks diary for december 1989).....ah! that explains it....Stacy!!!

    (lost in reverie)

  4. I have not heard about this... but then again, I am only a walking encyclopedia on console games... especially PSX...

    Intersting post, Gnome. Keep up the good work. I didnt manage to update today, but later this week or next weekend (best check next week) there will be something new. I guarantee it. Or I'll deprive myself of food and games for a month. Ok, maybe I'll play games... but no food!

  5. Whenever I visit Gnome's place, I always learn something new and interested. Thank you sire for the wisdome filled post.

  6. Ross, I'd rather you ate.. Food is good. Food is fun. You can rap it up in ribbons, you can ... ahem... Can be quite helpful when updaing a blog y'know...

    Why, thank you Gamer C. I'll have a blush now...

    Mr. Elderly? Stacy? Who's she? Did she steal your C64?

  7. That sound blaster looks like a snapshot of a bunch of buildings and oil wells from way a high....
    You sure thats a soundblaster..?
    I dont believed I gamed much in the 80's, maybe a little...

  8. well probably not the time to go into now, suffice it to say Stacy took a lot more than my c64..... sniff!.....

    excuse me..... (elderly leaves the room.....)

  9. Yes, Deitrix. A Soundlaster Pro. The first thing that made my PC sound different than a "bleep" And tis was early 90s thank you...

    (gnome mails candy to elderly, and a carton of whiskey)

  10. (in a darkened room somewhere in deepest Ireland, elderly receives a package.... he opens it!......)

    sometimes people just make your day!!!

  11. edxMakes me wonder where my adlib and first soundblaster went to. Now, to get this silly Soundmax AD1988 8 channel HD audio to play with Battlefield 2142 properly! How times have changed.

    Jones in the fast lane was a favorite gane for a time, as was kings quest V on cdr. Single speed CDR drives for 1200$. I recall thinking, "600mb, what would I do with that much space". It was larger than my hd at the time (conner 170mb).

  12. Wow, you did have an 170mb HD! Impressive. Mine, was just 80mb when I entered the whole MPC thing...

    And CDR? Wow^2!

    Ah the days.... Remember how amazingly rich in content the KQ6 cd was... They even had free time for the Sierra BBS... Shame it was a US only feature.

  13. Funny, that was my "new" pc then, AMD 386DX40, 4MB RAM, Trident VGA 1MB, 170MB HD, single speed CDR. The point is that i'm going to stick 1000x the memory in this computer.

  14. This was the pseudo advennt of SCSI RAID aswell. 17 years later, is implemented for the home user.

  15. Aha! A "new" PC! That explains quite a lot... :) The 1mb VGA was quite powerful too... 800x600x256c, was it?

    By the way, mine was a 386SX, which was pathetic even for the era. Then again, you're right, we've all got SCSI drives now....

  16. There was also a compilation from Rainbow Arts for the C64 as well. You can see both on my site here. You also got 10 pieces of Chris Huelsbeck music into the bargain.

  17. Amazing! Thanks for the tip Mayhem and, uhm, what a great site you got there!