Nowadays, even though many consoles have digital gaming capabilities, many gamers still collect and buy games with amazing graphics on CD media. This change in media format took place on consoles a few years ago and is still the most used physical option by companies.
That’s why there’s nothing better than going back in time and getting to know some of the consoles that participated in the beginnings of this evolution and that launched them up to their greatest success, the PlayStation One or PSOne.
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The evolution and importance of the use of the CD as a physical medium for consoles
Video game consoles have gone through several generations, and each new generation of devices has evolved, especially with regards to the graphics the games support. The fifth generation of devices was mainly marked by the introduction of games with 3D graphics.
However, consoles aside, the detail that made all the difference was the inclusion of CD-ROM as a media device. In this sense, the novelty was not exactly the arrival of 3D graphics, because they already existed on computers in the 90s, but the arrival of video games.
One of the main limiting factors was the low capacity of the cartridges used in previous generations, and that’s why the evolution of reading and playing CDs changed all that, because they had a lot of them. greater capacity.
The best consoles that played CDs before the PSOne
When you think of the beginnings of video games hitting the market with the novelty of CD playback, the first thing that comes to mind is probably the PlayStation One. This is normal, because the PSOne was certainly one of the most popular and managed to sell more than 102 million units during its lifetime. Although he was not the first, he was certainly the first to attract so much attention.
The PSOne was released on December 3, 1994 in Japan, but let’s take a look back at other CD console releases that preceded Sony’s console.
Released in 1994
In the same 1994, there were two more releases of this style of devices that came out before the PSOne.
He was the first of them Sega Saturn, which also became very popular, although not as well as the PSOne. It was released a few weeks before Sony’s device, which is why its sales were so low and weak, totaling only 9.26 million units.
The Sega Saturn also marked Sega’s last attempt to stay in the video game console market, which it had dominated for some time, but as history tells us, the efforts were futile. Some of the company’s fans still believe that they gave up too soon, others believe that the company should have bet on the exclusive game of its huge success, Sonic The Hedgehog, to guarantee the Joker dash that consumers wanted more fervently for the console.
The Saturn wasn’t a perfect console, its unique dual-CPU architecture with 8 processors made programming difficult, providing poor third-party support. However, it still had a huge game library that included 2D and 3D titles. That’s why it was sought after for some time, mainly by collectors. Unfortunately, it didn’t stand a chance against the PSOne at the time.
It was the second release of 1994 Bandai Playdia Fast Interactive System, but it only came out on September 23rd for Japan, so it’s not that well known. It is not known exactly how many units were sold, but it is known that the number was low. Part of this is explained by the fact that the device was mainly aimed at children, so it had a library full of entertainment and multimedia games.
There were still some games with more famous characters like Hello Kitty and Dragon Ball Z released by Bandai between 1994 and 1996, but even these were not enough to increase the popularity of the device in the country.
Released in 1993
Going back a little further in time to 1993, we still have other devices of this aspect that were not very popular with the public.
was the first 3DO Interactive Multiplayer, which relied on licensed designs from Panasonic, Sanyo and Goldstar during its lifetime, with no central manufacturer. It was not very successful, mainly because it was too expensive for the time, short life of only 3 years and very few sales.
Moreover, only 1 game was available at launch. During its 3 years on the market, it received more variants, with a total of 200 games released, including some in 3D. However, many were very ill.
was the second Friend CD32, which as the name already makes it clear that it was distinguished by the ability to read discs and play 32-bit games. It was launched as the first 32-bit console to be released, but there are contradictions that will be revealed later. The truth is that the console was pretty much a version of the PC Amiga 1200 at the time and most games were ported from the PC to the console.
Moreover, it also became a very functional video CD player if it had an MPEG video module. It was even successful, selling big in late 1993, but soon disappeared as its manufacturer went bankrupt.
And the third was released in February, the so-called Fujitsu FM Towns Marty. That’s why for many it became the first 32-bit console to be released, as it was more than 6 months before the CD32.
It had both a CD and a floppy disk. But it turned out to be very expensive and with very exclusive hardware (something like a Saturn), so a few games were released on it and were not very successful.
Released in 1991
Now a little back, before 1991, we can distinguish a device that was not a console itself, but a complement to it. O Sega CDAlso known as the Mega-CD, it was released as an accessory that could be attached to the Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) and which allowed it to read CD media and play games that way.
In practice, what happened is that most Sega CD-specific games were in the FMV (Full Motion Video) style, which is like an interactive video where players make choices for characters inhabited by real people. The others were basically the same games that already existed on cartridge for the console, but with improved soundtracks. It had a shelf life of almost 6 years and managed to sell 2.24 million units.
That’s where we go, in this retrospective Philips CDiWhich came out even before the Sega CD in 1991 and ended up being the first console to produce discs, although it was already a failure I can tell you.
In fact, when it first came out, the Phillips CDi was more of an interactive CD player than a video game itself. That’s because it also had educational and interactive encyclopedias and entertainment titles that went beyond games.
On the other hand, it was not well received at the time. It has had many FMV titles designed with real people and where the player interacts with some of the scenes. Others didn’t like much, including some versions of Zelda that were so badly forgotten. It managed to sell 1 million units in 8 years, which is a very low number, which meant a huge loss for Philips.
CD plug-in from 1988
Finally, we’re skipping a few years, the first gaming system to use discs wasn’t released in 1990, not 1989, but 1988. It doesn’t have the actual name of the first console to play CDs (leaving it as the Phillips CDi) precisely because it wasn’t exactly a console, but more of an accessory like the Sega CD.
The CD-ROM system was released on December 4, 1988 and eventually became an addition to the TurboGrafx-16, also known as the PC Engine. The console was released in the US in 1990, but it was already released in Japan in 1987. With this, the CD-ROM system allowed gamers to run games from CD on the Turbografx-16.
Around 150 games have been released for this format, including some popular titles such as Street Fighter, Castlevania, Populous and Space Invaders. And it cannot be considered a failure, because its sales at that time were very interesting.