Most of you have probably heard of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), released in 1990 in Japan and 1991 in the United States. What you may not know is that Nintendo was also planning on releasing a CD-based attachment for the SNES in 1992 or 1993. This attachment would have resembled the Sega CD released in 1991 for the Sega Genesis (rival of the SNES) and would have allowed for larger, faster games. While the Sega CD never did particularly well, at the time Nintendo viewed it as a threat. However, Nintendo had no experience with CDs, and needed a partner company to help them out. Phillips was among the list of companies Nintendo approached for help, but unfortunately, the partnership did not work out, and Phillips released their own CD-based system, the Phillips CDi instead. The CDi was not very successful, but due to the work Phillips did with Nintendo, the CDi saw the release of a Mario game – Hotel Mario – and three Legend of Zelda games – the Wand of Gamelon, the Faces of Evil, and Zelda’s Adventure. Needless to say, without Nintendo’s direct involvement, none of these Phillips CDi games were particularly good, and none are officially acknowledged by Nintendo today.
Phillips was not the only company Nintendo approached for help, and the CDi was not the only system to come out of the failed plans for the SNES-CD. Nintendo’s initial plans for the SNES-CD involved a partnership with Sony. Nintendo ended up breaking up this relationship the day after Sony announced its involvement at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1992, and as for why, nobody outside of Nintendo is quite sure. Reasons suggested have ranged from Sony offering Nintendo an impossibly restrictive contract that would have given Sony almost all the profits, Nintendo fearing that Sony would steal its secrets and use them in some unapproved of way, or Nintendo just being a jerk.
Needless to say, Sony was quite humiliated by this public rejection and particularly upset that Nintendo – a fellow Japanese company – had chosen to partner the Dutch company Phillips instead. To get back at Nintendo for this slight, Sony developed the prototype SNES-CD into a full stand-alone system which they named the Playstation. Nintendo went on to be defeated by Sony and its Playstation in the next two game console generations before rising again with the release of the Wii in 2006. Sony was able to gain the upper hand for a number of reasons, including that the Nintendo 64 was not CD based, and that the proprietary CD-esque medium used for the Nintendo Gamecube was smaller in storage capacity than real CDs. Ironically, Nintendo might have made these decisions in part due to getting burned by the SNES-CD.