Transformers Season 2 Part 2 DVD (Region 2)
Released 2th May 2004 by Metrodome, Reviewed 6th April 2004 (updated 23rd April 2004)
Season 2 Part 2 is the second boxset of Transformers cartoons which was released by Metrodome. Jane Lawson, of Metrodome, kindly sent us a set of Check Disks for the set, so that we could review them. Metrodome kindly later (23rd April 2004) sent us a copy of the final boxset so we have been able to complete the review fully.
This is an impartial review of the DVD release, with comparisons (where appropriate) with the Region 1 release by Rhino for North America.
Metrodomes website can be found here.
This DVD boxset is rated PG in the UK, G for Ireland.
First of all it should be noted that we have reviewed a preview
version of the Transformers: Series 2 Part 2 DVD boxset, so the final
release version could be altered (although it is very unlikely). As this
is a Preview Disk Set we do not have the Case or individual DVD cases
which the set is released in, therefore we cannot comment or review them.
We now (23-04-04) have a copy of the final DVD Box set (see left). The box is the same as the first half of Season 2 however it now has Season 2 Part 2 on the front (something many people mentioned after Part1). All the images on the boxset are slightly darker which makes it more glossy.
The DVD boxset is designed to match the Series 2 Part 1 DVD boxset, with it's silver design, this time accompanied with the Decepticon logo on the front.
Once again Darren Jamieson (The Transformers.Net) was involved with many of the extra features including writing the comic book.
The DVD contains 26 episode from Series 2 of the Transformers spread over 3 disks (9 episodes on the first two and 8 on the third). This is one DVD less than Rhino's Region 1 set and it is nice to see a company making full use of the size of a DVD.
Disks 1 and 2 purely contain episodes, with options to play all, tweak the sound (from Stereo to 5.1) or choose an individual episode, whilst Disk 3 contains all the above as well as the additional features.
The disk starts with legal notice, followed by Metrodome, TV Loonland and Hasbro's splash pages (TV Loonland's splash page includes a baaing sheep).
The menu system features a slow rotating Autobot/Decepticon logo, the "grid" backdrop, which rotates whilst a video clip plays at the top left corner (which is blends into the background nicely). The series 2 Transformers theme plays throughout.
The transition between Main Menu and Sub-Menus is the end part of the Series 2 beginning, when Optimus Prime and Megatron are sucked into a whirlpool.
The transition from Main Menu to Episode Guide is different from the others. In it's case the Decepticon logo moves to the center of the screen and then expands. As it reaches the edges of the screen it explodes in a star-burst effect.
Episode Selection Screen.
On the episode selection screen the entire beginning sequence plays, although you can only see 1/4 of the image (at the top right of the screen). Again it blends in to the rest of the screen very well.
From here you can choose which episode you want to watch. By clicking on the episode you are then prompted as to which chapter you want to watch from (there are 6 chapters per episode).
Sound Selection Screen
The Sound selection screen consists of a static image of Blaster. It is a shame that Metrodome decided to have this page different from the other screens, although the Sound Selection page on most DVDs are not the most interesting.
Although we are unable to comment on the final packaging of the DVD, we can comment on the menus. The DVD menus look far better than the Part 1 set, although not up the the CGI menus of Rhino they are a improvement and look nice.
The menus are simpler than the Region 1 version, but this isn't a bad thing. It means you can go from screen to screen a lot faster than on the Region 1 version. The Episode list page, not having a preview, at first may seem a shame, but the overall look of that screen is nice. The choose chapter screen has a preview of the episode playing in the top left corner, again this is blended really well and looks far better than the square box-preview on the Region 1 version.
The image quality is good, but unfortunately like Series 2 Part 2 suffers from the same type of inconsistancy as Part 1, although to a lesser point. Some episodes are slightly worse than the Region 1 version, but others are slightly better (such as Starscream's Bregade Pt.1). The two versions also appear to be in a different resolution, 720x480 for Region 1 and 720x576 for Region 2, or at least they are when we take screen grabs to compare them. The region 2 version also seems slightly darker than the Region 1, in the episodes where the quality is not as good.
It is strange as to why this is the case, as both Rhino and Metrodome obtain the video from the same source. The difference is not very noticeable, especially during regular viewing. The differences become clear when the DVDs are pause and you are sitting close to the screen.
Some of the imperfections in the video quality could simply be down to the age of the cartoon.
We've spoken to Metrodome on this, and they have explained that the reason why the image quality might be slightly poorer compared to its region 1 cousin, is because they use a higher compression on the show, allowing them to fit more onto each DVD.
Once again the sound quality is excellent, vastly outdoing the now dated look of the cartoon. You get a great feeling when the opening tune hits, with what we feel is the best intro for the original cartoon series.
The sound is completely re mastered, and it is so nice to be able to watch the Transformers episodes with such high quality. There are no downer's about this at all.
The Special features include, Quiz (now expanded), Game, Scripts, Profiles and Trailer for Atari Playstation Game.
Quiz - The Quiz was one of the most popular areas on Metrodome's first DVD release, and it's back with even more questions. Once again Darren has done his homework, teasing you with questions from both the cartoon and comic continuity. If you fail then you get prompted to Try again. There are 20 questions in all.
Our only negative on the quiz is with one question, regarding the name of the Autobots computer system. This is unclear as to whether it means the Cartoon or Comic continuity (with the former being the case).
Again it's good fun, and it would be fantastic if they could have more than one quiz on Season 3/4
Profiles - The Profile section covers the combines (otherwise known as Gestaults) as well as Blaster. It's a nice little section, something which is not on the Region 1 version. The downside is that it is very small (with only a handful of characters) and a little more information on each would be nice.
Fan Art Gallery - The Fan Art gallery interface has been re-vamped for Part 2, which improves this section immensely. The fan art is of a much higher quality than on Part 1 (and this time no images appear more than once). There are a few strange drawings, especially near the end, and one image which is a trace of an old Andy Wildman cover (tsk tsk that person).
Our favorite images are actually two toys, the custom Stikfas Deaths Head and Centurion (by Steve Woodhouse) are amazing (especially Deaths Head). Some of the artwork is fantastic (Simon Williams and Dylan Gibson are especially nice). A lot of the artwork is Dreamwave based (with the TF/Gi-Joe crossover being an obvious theme). Others are very Dan Khanna esque.
Their are buttons to allow you to go forward and back, which is a nice improvement. The only negative here is that the images could have done with being a little larger (maybe 1/4 of the screen, but no larger).
Scripts - Learning from the mistakes on Season 2 Part 1's scripts, Metrodome have attached the scripts in a PDF format, rather than the "on teletran-1" interface on the previous Boxset. This is a much better idea, and again is a Region 2 exclusive.
The scans are in a very high quality, although the odd page appears slighly crooked (although this gives you the feel of looking at the orignal piece of paper).
We can't faulter this feature at all, it's great and so much better than the version on Part 1. We hope that Metrodome keep this interface for Series 3/4.
The Game - An interesting idea which probably did not turn out exactly as planned. The game consists of trying to make up a Transformer from various parts. If you complete a Transformer then you are awarded various video clips of that Transformer - which works well.
The game itself is an automated process, to which you appear to have no control (which is a little disappointing)
Atari Preview - The preview for the Atari Prelude to Energon Playstation Game is fantastic - and not just because it features Tidal Wave quiet a bit. The video showcases some great clips from the game and has a nice soundtrack to go along with it. It defiantly helps sell the game.
Post Cards -The final set contains a four postcard this time drawn by Andrew Wildman with the Optimus Prime postcard is by far the best of the four. The artwork is much simpler than his recent work for Dreamwave.
Comic Book - We forgot that this was going to even be a part of this set until the final DVD set arrive. We must confess that we had no expectations for the comic and reservations as to how well it would work. Most free comics are not know for their high quality of work.In the case of the comic that comes with this DVD called The Beast Within this is NOT the case. The comic is extremely well done. The quality and presentation of the actual book is extremely high (far superior to the UK Armada comics). It has been printed on Glossy Paper and has the look of a DreamWave comic. It has a real professional feel to it. The artwork is by Professional Illustrator and Transformers fan Dylan Gibson (his site is www.dylangibsonillustration.co.uk) is of extremely high quality with what can only be described as fantastic colouring (Panini should take note). The story itself was written by Darren Jamieson and features combining Dinobots. A subject that will no doubt cause discussion through the fan community. Its something that many people have wanted to see in the past (there have been KitBashes and numerous FanArts dedicated to that one idea). Darren's and Dylan's take on the idea is works extremely well and is very acceptable as a plausible reason why it had not been seen before. The comic is part 1 of a continuing story. Overall this is a very welcome addition to the special features and is probably the best of all the feature bundled with this Boxset.
The only thing missing from the special features is an interview. Something that Metrodome plan to address with the next installment.
Presentation - 9/10 -The presentation is extremely hard to fault, if you had to be picky you could say that the Artwork could have been a little better. The menu system and PDF format for the scripts are far superior to the Part 1 Boxset.
Image Quality - 9/10 - It's nice but still slightly worse than the Region 1 version.
Sound Quality - 10/10 Excellent. The sound quality cannot be faulted .. fantastic.
Special Features - 9.5/10 - The special features have undergone a facelift. The Scripts are far nicer in PDF format, the Fan Art Gallery has a "forward" button, allowing you to skip through and the Quiz is longer. It's just a shame there has not been a convention to have been filmed.
The postcards are quite nice as they are minor addition, the Atari Trailer is nice, showing off some not seen CGI footage. The game is poor, however the comic makes up for this and any other flaws that might be found with the special features.
Overall - 9.5/10
Series 2 Part 2 is overall better than Series 2 Part 1, the menu is far superior, as is the Scripts and Fan Art Gallery. The Video and Sound quality are around the same, which is as you'd expect - although still behind the Region 1 version.
The Region 1 version has the nice Extra's of interviews with the cast (somthing which is virtually impossible for non-american releases) although that is the sum of the features on that version.
So, Region 1 or Region 2.
1 - Very slightly better image quailty overall, nice CG menus, interview
Cost $59.95 - or $52.16 from Amazon (roughly £29.00)
Region 2 - Cheaper, slightly better sound, some episodes are clearer, more additional features including scripts.
Cost - RRP £24.99 or £18.54 from Amazon (roughly £10 cheaper before shipping)
It's very close on this one, and there is not really a clear winner if you just look at the DVD episodes. Value for money however is a different story, with Metrodome's Region 2 DVD far better than Rhino's Region 1 version.
If you have not already bought the Region 1 version then we'd recommend that you get the Metrodome version. If you do already own the Region 1 version, then you may still want to get it for the extra features of Scripts and Fan Art.