11/24/20

Monster Zero and Biollante VCD's (Video CD's)

 

Around here, we talk quite a bit about the formats that Godzilla movies have been released on.  My primary interest is in releases from the USA, but today we have a couple of examples of Video CD's (commonly just called VCD's), a format which really didn't take off in the United States.  

VCD's were really what they sounded like.  Without getting too technical, they were CD's that utilized MPEG-1 encoding to present video and audio.  They were playable on computers and DVD players alike, and tended to match their audio cousins in capacity:  the old 74-minute blanks held 74 minutes of VCD content, and 80 minutes for the, well, 80-minute discs.  The main draw was that they were easy to record/encode and could be copied as easily as an audio disc. They were huge in Asian countries, and were quickly eclipsed by the higher quality (and, for the manufacturers, copy protection restraints) of DVD.

Here we have Video CD releases for GODZILLA vs. MONSTER ZERO and GODZILLA vs. BIOLLANTE.  The former is interesting because it utilizes the title, artwork, and design of the 1998 Simitar release here in the USA, which here was obviously licensed to Progress Video for the release in Hong Kong.  Interestingly enough, while this item wasn't sold in America, a very similar one still was (though very sparsely):


There isn't much difference between a VCD and a "DVD-ROM."  Other than that the PC version comes with a launcher or program of some kind.  (If you are keeping score at home, it's not even clear that Simitar released all five of their Godzilla titles this way.  I personally have seen DVD-ROM releases for both MONSTER ZERO and GODZILLA vs. THE THING only.)


This BIOLLANTE disc is completely unique, though, and made by the Mei Ah Laser Disc company in Hong Kong. (Apologies for the slight blur--these came to me sealed, and the shrink plus the slight distance from the scanner glass causes some fuzziness.)


On the back, we have the moment that resulted in what was recently called "Biollante Bile" Godzilla in a NECA action figure release.  

VCD's were/are an interesting part of the history of video technology.   For completeness, I should include mention of the Phillips CD-I (which survives in infamy among game historians, since it gave us HOTEL MARIO and a couple of meme-tastic Zelda games) because VCD movies were available for that system...but like their larger relative, the laserdiscs, long movies still meant multiple discs, and interruptions.

For the record, I will admit that around 2001-2002, I dove into the format with full force.  I even purchased a recorder called a "Terapin" and began dumping VHS onto discs by the score, determined this was the successor to tapes.   Bad move.

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