Quizard was a series of quiz games published by TAB-Austria in the ’90s. What makes it special is the fact that it is one of the very few arcade games based on Philips CD-i hardware. The protection of Quizard 1.x and 2.x has been figured out quite a while ago and since then it is emulated in MAME. Quizard 3.x and 4.x, however, refused to run – until now. A first step was done when Team Europe dumped a protection MCU a couple of years ago. Very soon, they will release an MCU board that will turn almost every CD-i player into a Quizard arcade machine. I received a sample last week and just finished assembling and testing it.
This took quite some time to assemble. I was missing the SMD LED, so I used a regular (small) LED instead.
An Arduino Mega case construction set was included as well. Cutting and filing additional holes caused a dusty mess, but it didn’t turn out too bad.
TAB Quizard on Philips CD-i – Testing
I did some tests with the very common CDI220/60 and CDI660/00 players. Getting it to work was quite easy: One cable into the back port (RS-232) and one cable into the front port (P1), CD into the disc drive and that’s it. The games start right away and can be controlled with the buttons on the MCU board. The signals of the buttons (A, B, C, Start for each player, as well as Coin and Service) are being sent to the RS-232 port. The connection to the front port has only one purpose, to press the Play button in the shell to start the game when powering on the unit. This connection is obsolete when using a player with a modern shell because they have a setting for automatic start.
- Each major game version needs a dedicated MCU, i.e. the 4.x games cannot be played with a 1.x MCU and vice versa.
- The MCU also controls the language. There is only German 1.x, 3.x and 4.x available at the moment.
- The games don’t like the 60 Hz mode of my CDI220/60. When enabled, the games crash upon loading.
- A manual for the original arcade machine can be found here.
The CDI350/00 has only one serial port, and that’s where we plug in the cable that is supposed to go to the back port. Don’t bother using the Philips port-splitter, it doesn’t work. Since there is no automatic start, the games need to be started by hand, i.e. with the controls on the CD-i player or the remote control. Make sure to switch the TV standard to PAL because the games crash in NTSC mode.
One of the test screens that can be accessed through the Service menu:
This one needs an extra serial cable or adapter because the modem port in the back is a regular RS-232 port with DB-25M connector. The port does not have a +5V line and can’t power the MCU board on its own – a connection to the front port or an external power supply is needed as well. By the way, the MCU board draws only 30-50 mA when in use.
At first I tried it with my null-modem cable, but it won’t work – a straight serial connection is required. The cable that comes with the CD-i Internet Kit is fine, it needs a gender changer though. If you don’t have an Internet Kit and want to build your own cable, connect the plugs according to this table:
The Quizard games run fine in this configuration. I assume that this also applies to the similar players by LG, GDI-700M and GDI-S710. Again: PAL only, as the games will crash upon loading in NTSC mode.