With 150 titles, the CD-i software library is well stocked. Nevertheless, it took Philips a little more than two years to claim a base of 150,000 CD-i owners in the U.S. The Sega CD system ($229) sold twice that many units in its first two months of availability, starting in November 1992. The video-game juggernaut's marketing prowess proved to be of vital importance: Sega convinced nearly a million people—mostly young and male—that Sega CD was the multimedia system to own. With the recent release of the Genesis CDX ( Sega, $399), a system that combines the Sega Genesis video-game machine with the Sega CD in one portable unit, the company expects the number of Sega CD users to reach two million by the end of 1994.
Sega means games, so it's no surprise that Sega CD means games on CD, the best of which is Prize Fighter ( Sega, $59.99). Prize Fighter puts you in the shoes of an up-and-coming contender as he attempts to make his way to the top of the boxing world. All the game's action is live video—no computer-animated characters or cartoons here—and was directed by Ron Stein, who staged the boxing sequences in Raging Bull and Rocky III. The effect is stunning—the game is essentially an interactive movie with you in the title role. From the taunting of your ring opponents to the raspy exhortations of your cornermen to the resonant cadences of announcer Michael Buffer, Prize Fighter achieves a level of verisimilitude unparalleled in video games.
No multimedia company arrived on the scene with greater fanfare than 3DO. Backed by corporate giants such as Matsushita, Time Warner and AT&T, The 3DO Company spent most of last year hyping itself as the multimedia standard, without having a player on the market. By the time Panasonic introduced the first 3DO player, the REAL system ($499) in October '93, the expectations for the machine were unrealistically high.
Luckily for 3DO, the system is supported by games like John Madden Football '94 ( Electronic Arts. $59.95). Madden was already a classic in its Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis incarnations. The 3DO version offers NFL film footage, and action enhanced with stereo sound. The game resembles an NFL telecast, complete with John Madden introducing the teams and the games. Madden on CD: Who ever thought compact discs could hold that much data?
If you're interested in exploring multimedia but can't stand the thought of cluttering up your wall unit with another high-tech TV accessory, you can always try CD-ROM (Compact Disc-Read Only Memory). A CD-ROM is not really a system but rather a special drive that connects to your PC or Macintosh. With a pair of external speakers and a color monitor, a CD-ROM can transform your home PC from a utilitarian appliance that crunches numbers to a multimedia center that will enable you to analyze the music of Beethoven or examine evidence in the Kennedy assassination.
Your first purchase alter you install your CD-ROM should be Complete Baseball ( Microsoft for PC CD-ROM, $79.95). This disc includes statistics from the mammoth reference work Total Baseball, well-re-s searched articles about all aspects of the game, biographies of the great players and much more information than you I could sift through in one lifetime. All this data is enlivened by more than 7,500 color photographs and drawings, 84 audio clips and 12 video clips. In addition, if you have a modem and can spare $1.25 a day, the program will fetch for you a daily electronic newspaper containing current baseball scores, stats, news and even photos.
Less comprehensive but just as intriguing is Baseball's Creates! Hits (Voyager for Mac CD-ROM, $49.95), which takes great moments in baseball history and delivers them to you in the form of newspaper stories, original radio calls and. in some instances, video and film segments. Among the latter is a rare home movie of Babe Ruth's celebrated called shot.