Review by Kenneth Wong (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Animeigo's Interactive CDROM is an excellent marketing tool for computer-aware video retailers and marketers. It has video clips from each of Animeigo's current video titles (the disc was produced in February '95) as well as liner notes, and logos and graphics for advertising material. The CDROM is readable on both Macs as well as PCs and the binaries yield the same user interface for menu navigation. The CDROM provides a good marketing tool for people interested in Animeigo's current product line; however, as a version 1.0 release, it does have some design and user interface flaws.
As mentioned earlier, the CD is an excellent marketing tool as it provides prospective customers (at both retail and distribution levels) preview clips of the products. The marketing graphics are in .TIFF format and are suitable for page layout and image editing programs. I previewed the images using Adobe Illustrator v5.5 with no problems. The images seem to be cel scans and are quite crisp (some of the BGC cels do not seem to be found in any of the OVA episodes). These images would be ideal for marketing posters and other advertising art.
The QuickTime(TM) movies are of mixed quality as there is some variation in the brightness and contrast between various clips. That is to say, some clips appeared quite dark and muddy. The quality appeared better on the Mac preview machine than on the Intel-based machine. The 320x240 pixel movies were postage stamp sized and were not resizable in the Animeigo viewer (though they can be viewed using other viewers). A common criticism I have heard is that the interface does not have a volume control or mute option (the main menu theme does get grating after a while as it restarts after each menu choice). The video speed is adequate and there was no frame loss (even on slower Mac LC575s and 486DX33s with double-spin CDROM drives).
An interesting point to note is that the titles shown are the recent releases/versions of Animeigo's titles so there are English dub versions rather than subtitled versions of the clips. Then again, who can read those postage-stamp subtitles anyway? I guess retailers and buying staff can assess the quality of the English dub this way since subtitled is subtitled (not much to judge).
The liner notes and song lyrics are great for fans and collectors but have limited use in the marketing department. Personally, I think the liner notes are great, especially if the CDROM is installed in an "info-kiosk" for customers to browse the product line. Beware of the <| |> scroll bars, as there may be many episodes to a series (here the scroller works correctly); however, you may end up scrolling to next animation series (without having to go to the main navigation menu)!
Small touches abound (such as the UY Jariten pseudo-screensaver) that increase the "cute-factor" of this product. It will be interesting to see what a version 2.0 disc will provide in terms new product information.
From a user interface standpoint, the <| |> menu scroll buttons should be larger as they play an important role in navigating the interface. At their current size, it is not apparent that alternate choices exist for the menu. A mute switch or volume control is again emphasized as a preferred feature.
The scrolling feature at the liner-note level should be tested to ensure that the user is aware of additional information or that no further information is available for the current product title.
I liked the concept and implementation of the CDROM as a marketing tool for both the retail and buyer level. The minor technical problems are largely a result of user interface implementation.