Welcome to the CD-i Spotlight. This is a series where I’m going to give the spotlight to some CD-i games in my collection and show off the system in general. My intention isn’t necessarily to convince you that the CD-i is the greatest system of all time but instead to show you that it isn’t as bad as you may think it is.
The CD-i is home to many games. Looking through some of the manuals of the titles I own, it looks like the games are sorted into different categories: kids, games, special interest, and digital video. Today we’re going to look at two from the kids category. Paint School 1 and Paint School 2: Electric Boogaloo. Okay, that subtitle is made up.
Before I begin, let’s talk about the controllers. My CD-i came with 2 controllers: the remote control and the light gun. I have no idea if the system normally comes with the light gun, but I’m thinking that it doesn’t. I bought my CD-i as part of a bundle that included several games and the light gun. The remote takes 2 double A batteries and works fairly well for point and click games that feature a cursor. The light gun, also known as the Peace Keeper Revolver… doesn’t work for this game. Obviously.
There are also other controllers for the system as well. First is the Game pad controller. It reminds me a lot of the Sega Genesis controller except there isn’t a pause button. The pause button is actually located on the system itself. This controller is good for your standard platformer games but does work for this type of game too.
The next controller is the CD-i mouse. This mouse is fantastic for your point and click games. It also has the old mouseball part.
The last controller I have is the Roller Controller. Again, this controller is good for your point and click games and many kid titles recommend it. Unfortunately, this controller is plagued with issues and the sometimes the ball doesn’t work. There are guides online for how to fix it though. I’ll attempt that one day and probably make a video on it as well.
There is another mouse-type controller, the trackball mouse. Unfortunately, I don’t have this one, so I won’t be able to speak to it.
There’s also the CD-i Commander controller which I like to call the spoon controller. I don’t have this one either, so I’m not really sure what games it would be good for. I assume it is a more beefed up remote controller.
Lastly, as far as my research found, is another type of gamepad controller. It sort of resembles a SNES controller but has a giant joystick protruding from the D-pad.
Most of these controllers will work for every game, with the exception of the light gun. I like using the CD-i mouse for Paint School 1. It gives me Mario Paint vibes. I also get Color a Dinosaur vibes from the box cover art as well. Anyway, lets discuss the game.
Hoo boy. I wasn’t expecting a whole lot given the pictures on the back of the box, but this is pretty bare bones. So how do you play this game? There is a little handy tutorial you can listen to by clicking the “?,” but I’ll walk you through it. The picture in the top left is the picture you will be coloring. If you take a look at the top right of the mini UI, you’ll see a circle. Clicking the circle changes the category of picture. You use the up and down arrows to select a picture to color within the category. There are 10 categories and about 10 pictures to choose from each category.
Upon starting this game up, the player may have also noticed that there is a lack of music. You can turn music on by selecting the music note. I’m not sure why the music wouldn’t be on by default… but at least it has music. The game has 11 songs. The songs are nice and upbeat, but pretty generic overall. The player needs to turn the music on every time you turn on the game. Changing the song is also pretty tedious. You have to click the music note to turn on the song and then click it again to turn it off. When you click the note again, the next song will come on. It would have made sense if they added a scroll option to the music.
In terms of gameplay there are 3 different sized brushes, shapes, and a fill option. There’s also a magnifying lens that lets you zoom in on the picture. The mouse controls the cursor pretty well. I only have two main gripes about the gameplay overall. The first is that the cursor is pretty big and some of the areas that you need to fill in are pretty small. I’m not a big fan of the free hand tools so I end up accidentally filling in wrong parts of the drawing when I click the button. That leads me to my second grip. You can use the magnifying lens to zoom in, which is great, but if you’re working on the top part of the drawing and want to select a new color, then you have to scroll all the way to the bottom to pick the color then scroll all the way back to where you were working.
There’s one more feature in Paint School. This game gives you the ability to turn your artwork into a 16 piece puzzle. It’s a neat feature, but I feel like people would get bored with this pretty quickly. That is, they’d get bored after solving 1 puzzle. You move the puzzle pieces by clicking on the piece that you want to move to the empty spot. It’s pretty simple, and doesn’t require a whole lot of effort. You get a little bit of fanfare when you finish the puzzle and then you’re taken back to the drawing screen. That’s right, you’re literally taken back to the drawing board.
The back of the box states that this game has 32,000 color combinations. If you count the colors as you scroll through the options, you see there are 40 variations of colors and 48 pattern choices. Unfortunately, the colors don’t blend, so I’m not sure where the 32,000 figure comes from. I also noticed that, when you draw with the brushes, the brush stroke is added. I’m not entirely sure how to control it with the mouse, but that’s a pretty neat feature. A bit annoying when you’re trying to color something in, but neat nonetheless.
Well, that’s all this game has to offer. I was hoping it would rival Mario Paint, but it doesn’t have too much to offer in terms of variety of gameplay. I will say that I did have fun coloring some of the pictures and the pictures themselves are well made. I feel like most people may get bored with this after coloring a few pictures since that’s all you’re able to do. I will say that it is a step up from Color a Dinosaur on the NES though, so it has that going for it. But, what about the sequel? Does that improve on the game mechanics in some way?
Well, as you can see from the title screen here, no. In fact, it looks like they’re regressing. Where’s the cool Claymation scene? So, as the game loads, you’ll be right back at that familiar user interface that you saw in Paint School 1. That’s right, Paint School 2 Is basically the same game as Paint school 1. Right down to the same paint tools and puzzle mode. Well, I guess if it ain’t broke…
Okay, there are some differences between the 2 games. For instance: this game features different music than its predecessor. I think that the songs are not as upbeat as the first game’s music, but they are still nice. The patterns have also been changed. Say goodbye to the baby picture and say hello to pictures of Koalas and Tigers. I’ll also say, while I liked the intro of the Paint School 1, this one leaves a lot to be desired. At least it’s more appropriate for what the player is about to see.
The major difference between the two games is that this game features new artwork to draw and many are uninspired to say the least. This game features letters and numbers to color, random shapes, and other scenes. Some of the scenes seem kind of lazy to me as a lot of the elements look copy and pasted. In fact, the shape pictures remind me of the artwork I used to make in middle school when they let the class have free time on the computer. Ultimately, Paint School 2 is more of an expansion pack for fans of the first game. It doesn’t really add anything new… just extends the gameplay.
That being said, both games weren’t as impressive as I thought it was going to be. We’re talking about a cd-based game with similar quality to a SNES title. I mean, the games could have at least played the song automatically without user input. I guess I just expected a little more from these games given that they are CD-based, especially from the sequel. I would have liked to see some more features added. I at least want more colors and patterns.
All-in-all, these games certainly aren’t bad titles, but it wouldn’t be my first recommended paint game. My recommended paint game is still Mario Paint. I was originally going to give these games the same score, but I’m going to change that up given the differences between the two games.
Paint school 1 gets 3 Pirate babies out of 5 and Paint school 2 gets 2 pirate koalas out of 5.
Like I said earlier, I’m not trying to convince you that CD-i games are going to set the world on fire, but that they’re not as bad as everyone is let on to believe. I do believe the Paint School games are pretty decent paint games for being made in the 90s. That being said, next month’s pick is a game that I think everyone knows and loves, Tetris.