The first two American releases of SeriousUSA's CD Cardz show a lot of promise
for this potential future trading card concept. While neither is a product from
what would be considered a truly successful summer film, both showcase the possibilities
for this medium, providing fans of the films with a nice collectible.
The Cardz, bearing similar dimensions to the trading cards we're all familiar
with, are actually CD-ROMs with a little extra material to fill out the rectangle.
They are designed to play on any computer's CD drive, both Mac and PC based;
there are no minimum requirements listed, but as the cards are Macromedia driven
(Shockwave, I believe), the requirements shouldn't be too high. My only real
complaint about the cards is that they don't slot perfectly into the CD drive;
it actually took a little sliding around until I felt a click when the disc
was in firm position.
Each of the Cardz is designed to enhance the film; in fact, they remind me
of the electronic press kits that I used to get when CD-ROM was first unleashed
to the masses. The cards focus on different characters (7 for the Planet
of the Apes series, 4 for Final Fantasy), and each one includes a
screensaver, photo gallery, trailer for the film, and soundtrack samples. Additionally,
there are puzzles on some cards; solving the puzzles unlocks additional features
like hidden film clips.
The Planet of the Apes set is seven cards, sold as a set for $24.95,
while the Final Fantasy set consists of four cards at $14.95 (there is
a fifth card in the series, available with the September 2001 issue of Wizard
magazine). I found the Final Fantasy series more attractive, with
a little more to offer in the way of interactivity. It also carries a better
navigational design; the Planet of the Apes main screens are not as intuitive
as they could have been.
While neither one of these sets is particularly up my alley, it's easy to imagine
the possibilities for future projects. Of course, content is determined by the
license that the producing company is willing to give, but if Serious can manage
to offer unique content, they'll certainly have a huge hit on their hands in
the US. It's also not a stretch to see them moving into comic book territory,
a natural fit with still images and easily obtained unique content.
While these first two sets may not make a huge splash - I'm not aware of too
many people that found either movie up to their expectations - SeriousUSA and
its CD Cardz product are definitely worth watching. It's only a matter of time
until they grab the right license, and have a huge - and collectible - product
on their hands.