Bubblegum Crisis Megaset (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, February 06, 2002
Release Date: Friday, October 30, 1998
As you are about to see, this is a two-in-one review of the Bubblegum Crisis DVD Suite. I'll talk about the DVD-Video side first, then the DVD-ROM side. I'll be concentrating more on the ROM side, since there have already been a couple of reviews on the Video side.
(For comparison, I am using a Creative Labs Encore 2x DVD-ROM drive with dxr2 decoder card connected to a Sony 27" television via S-Video.)
DVD-Video: The video is very well done, with only a few soft spots that aren't even noticeable unless you're really looking for them. The sound for both language tracks is a stereo mix, so don't expect any big surround effects. I do have to say that after hearing a few minutes worth of the English track, I swore never to play it again :). There are a few problems with the subtitles, from them being slightly off-timed to them totally disappearing at the beginning of the second episode. There was also the problem where at the end of the sixth episode, there were no subtitles for the song, while at the end of every other episode there were. I jumped past the beginning of the credits to make sure it wasn't the same problem that it was for the second episode, and it wasn't; they are just not there. Another thing that bugged me about the end song subtitles is that they cut out at the end of the song, even though there still was singing going on. Also, about the end credits themselves: I am happy that they were redone to include listings for both Japanese and English voice actors (unlike almost every other series I've seen). All episodes are encoded at an average of 4.9 Mb/s, with the exception of the sixth, which is at 3.4 Mb/s.
DVD-ROM: One of the few good points about the DVD-ROM portion is the fact that it is an entertainment DVD-ROM. There are only a few DVD-ROM titles in total and even less of these are in the entertainment area, so it was nice to finally get something that uses DVD that isn't just a movie. The first disc contains all the necessary software and data (with the exception of the actual videos) that is needed to access the videos and other DVD-ROM extras (song lyrics, images, etc.) Once installed, the interface takes on an appearance that is similar to the DVD menu, but it doesn't include all the functions of the DVD menu. One thing is that when you watch one of the videos, it is set to the English dub, and there is no way (that I've found) to change it. It also seems to like putting up English subtitles, but not correctly (they come up in all gray, instead of their proper colors). This doesn't seem to happen with every episode. The software also doesn't auto-detect which disc is in the drive, so you have to go to the proper episode (just a minor annoyance, but one nonetheless). Another problem (though this may be either the discs I have or my drive): the way the software plays the video is by looking at a set of files in a VOB directory on each disc, with each file pointing to the specific chapter of the episode of the actual video data (the files in the VIDEO_TS directory). The problem is that not all the files are "readable", meaning that when the software goes to read the file, it gets an error saying that the file cannot be open; the really bad thing is that it seems that the file that represents the first chapter of each episode is like this! And it's not just the first chapter files that are bad, each episode has several bad files. So there is no way to just start the video and let it play from the beginning. If you play a chapter that does work, there is a chance that the video will stop a few seconds into that chapter. The only good thing about this is that, while the video is being shown in a small window (something like 320x240), it is at least being outputted to my television like normal. The image gallery is a nice little plus, but the same images seem to be on each disc. When I tried printing out one of the images on a color printer (a Canon Bubblejet 4300), the image came out ok, but coloring didn't really come out right; I got a better (and larger) printout by doing a screen capture of the image displayed and printing it in a different program. My suggestion concerning the DVD-ROM stuff: don't bother. Use your normal DVD player software to watch these discs.
Overall, once you look past the packaging, missing items (see the first alternate angle review) and other problems (most which are soon to be fixed), it's a very good set of DVDs to have and I'm glad I waited to get them instead of the tapes, but I would have to suggest that you should wait for the version 2.0 discs (with subtitle, sound, and hopefully, ROM side fixes) to be released if you want to make use of your DVD-ROM drive.
Creative Labs Encore 2x DVD-ROM drive with dxr2 decoder card connected to a Sony 27" television via S-Video
Mania Grade: NA
Audio Rating: N/A
Video Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: All Region DVD
Released By: AnimEigo
Running time: 399
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Bubblegum Crisis