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CD-i games from The Legend of Zelda series

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Link: The Faces of Evil, Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon and Zelda's Adventure are action-adventure games produced by Philips for their CD-i format as part of Nintendo's The Legend of Zelda video game series. Not designed for Nintendo platforms, the games owe their existence to negotiations related to Nintendo's decision not to have Philips create a CD add-on to the Super NES. During these negotiations, Philips secured the rights to use Nintendo characters in CD-i third-party developer games. The Faces of Evil and The Wand of Gamelon were developed by Animation Magic and were both released in North America on October 10, 1993,[1] and Zelda's Adventure was developed by Viridis and was released in North America on June 5, 1994.[2] The games were given little funding or development time, and Nintendo provided only cursory input. None of the games are canonical to the Zelda franchise.[3]

CD-i players did not sell well and the games saw relatively small sales figures. Though the games initially received largely positive reviews,[4][5] they have been universally criticized since the mid-2000s. This is attributed to the reaction of many gamers to the obscure games' full motion video cutscenes when they first became widely available through video-sharing websites such as YouTube. The cutscenes are perceived to be of poor quality. Because the aging early 1990's visual effects of the titles failed to live up to the graphic effects of the 2000's, and because for many fans this was their first experience with the games, the CD-i Zelda titles have developed a critical reputation as particularly poor based largely on rough animation quality, unintuitive level design, and to an extent awkward control schemes. In the eyes of "hardcore" gamers devoted to the Zelda franchise, according to Edge, the games are now considered "tantamount to blasphemy".[6]

Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon are played using the side-scrolling view introduced in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, while Zelda's Adventure has a top-down view reminiscent of the original The Legend of Zelda.[1][7] All the CD-i Zelda games begin with animated FMVs to illustrate the capabilities of the CD-ROM format, save Zelda's Adventure, which begins with a live-action video.[7]


Release timeline
1986The Legend of Zelda (NES)
1987The Adventure of Link (NES)
1991A Link to the Past (SNES)
1993Link's Awakening (GB, GBC)
Link: The Faces of Evil and Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon*
1994Zelda's Adventure*
1998Ocarina of Time (N64)

In 1989, Nintendo signed a deal with Sony to begin development of a CD-ROM-based system known as the SNES-CD (also known as the "Nintendo Play-Station", with separated words) to be an add-on to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System that would allow for FMV and larger games.[8][9] However, Nintendo broke the agreement and instead signed with Philips to make the add-on, which caused Sony to spin off their add-on into its own console called the PlayStation (with "PlayStation" as one word due to a copyright issue with the trademark "Play-Station" owned by Nintendo).[7][8][10] Witnessing the poor reception of the Sega Mega-CD, Nintendo scrapped the idea of making an add-on entirely.[8][9] As part of dissolving the agreement with Philips, Nintendo gave them the license to use several of their characters, including Link, Princess Zelda, and Ganon, for games on Philips's console called the CD-i, after the partnership's dissolution.[2][9]

Contracting out to independent studios, Philips subsequently used the characters to create three games for the CD-i, with Nintendo taking no part in their development except to give input on the look of the characters[9][11] based on the artwork from Nintendo's original two titles and that of their respective instruction booklets.[12] Philips insisted that the development studios utilize all aspects of the CD-i's capabilities including FMV,[13] high-resolution graphics, and CD-quality music.[12] Because the system had not been designed as a dedicated video game console, there were several technical limitations, such as laggy controls (especially for the standard infrared controller),[13] and numerous problems in streaming-audio, memory, disc access, and graphics.[12]

The first two games were showcased at the 1993 CES and surprised audiences with their degree of animation.[14] All the CD-i games in The Legend of Zelda series were released after Link's Awakening but before Ocarina of Time, as illustrated in the timeline with the relevant games marked with asterisks.

Video games[edit]

Link: The Faces of Evil[edit]

Paired with Zelda: Wand of Gamelon in a simultaneous release, Link: The Faces of Evil represents the first of the Zelda games to be released by Philips for the CD-i. Following the traditional Link-saves-Zelda plotline, Faces of Evil was patterned most closely upon Nintendo's previous side-scroller, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. The game broke new ground in the video game industry by using outsourced Russian animation to create all cutscenes,[12] and the game received largely positive contemporary reception.[4][15] Modern criticism is almost universal in its harsh negativity toward the game and the animated cutscenes have become particular targets of derision.

Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon[edit]

Reversing the traditional Link-saves-Zelda plotline, Wand of Gamelon stars Zelda as she adventures to rescue Link and her father the king who have not returned from their quest. As with Faces of Evil, the game was patterned most closely upon Nintendo's previous side-scroller, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, and again features outsourced Russian animation for all cutscenes.[12] Despite the game's similarly positive contemporary reception[5] along with Faces of Evil, modern critics have almost unanimously derided and ridiculed the game for its inability to live up to modern expectations with the animated cutscenes again having become a particular target of negative reception.

Zelda's Adventure[edit]

Released nearly 8 months after the first two Zelda CD-i games, Zelda's Adventure was created by a different third-party developer, Viridis. The game again follows a nontraditional Zelda-saves-Link plotline, but it uses a different game engine than Faces of Evil and Wand of Gamelon. Whereas the first two CD-i games were patterned on the side-scrolling Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, Zelda's Adventure took the top-down The Legend of Zelda as its model. Zelda's Adventure featured FMV cutscenes, but rather than using drawn animation, the game used live-action scenes. Reception for the game was poor, and whereas some modern critics have given more nuanced reviews of the first two games, modern criticism for Zelda's Adventure is unanimously negative.


  1. ^ a b Cowan, Danny (2006-04-25). "CDi: The Ugly Duckling". Archived from the original on 2012-07-20. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  2. ^ a b Wilson, Mark (2007-06-05). "This Day in Gaming, June 5th". Kotaku. Archived from the original on 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  3. ^ McFerran, Damien. "Surprise! Aonuma Doesn't Consider The CD-i Zelda Games To Be Canon, Either". Nintendo Life. Retrieved 5 April 2018.
  4. ^ a b ECTS 93: CDi Philips - Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon. Joystick. No.38. Pp.43. May 1993.
  5. ^ Development Hell. Edge. No.120. Pg.81. February 2003.
  6. ^ a b c Kohler, Chris (2008-03-24). "Game|Life The Video, #7: Nintendo and CD-i". Wired. Archived from the original on April 1, 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-07.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  7. ^ a b c Zelda Elements Staff (2008-01-01). "Overview: CDi Series". Zelda Elements. Archived from the original on March 6, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  8. ^ a b c d GameTrailers Staff (2006-10-22). "The Legend of Zelda Retrospective Zelda Retrospective Part 3". GameTrailers. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  9. ^ GameSpy Staff (2008-01-01). "Nintendo: From Hero to Zero". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  10. ^ Zelda Elements Staff (2008-01-01). "Overview: Link: The Faces of Evil". Zelda Elements. Archived from the original on March 14, 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-07.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  11. ^ a b c d e The Making of... Zelda: 'Wand of Gamelon' & 'Link: Faces of Evil'. Retro Gamer. Issue 27. p. 52-57. August 2006.
  12. ^ a b Zelda Elements Staff (2008-01-01). "Overview: Zelda: The Wand of Gamelon". Zelda Elements. Archived from the original on February 20, 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-07.
  13. ^ Rodrigues, Iara, ed. "Game Plus: Multimídia - Zelda Ataca CDI". GamePower. No.16. Pg.45. October 1993.
  14. ^ CD TESTS: Link The Faces of Evil. Joystick. No.44. Pg.192. December 1993.

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