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Acorn Arcade forums: News and features: Demo reviews

Demo reviews

Posted by Xyra on 00:00, 14/11/2001 | , ,
On this page: Awakening, Damn!, Freestyle, Icon, Insanity, July, MissTech, Ostern95, TerraDemo, Time's Up, Xcentric, Xtreme


By Orig-ARM-I (now Reactive)
A fairly short one this, which seems to mainly involve eyes staring out of the screen at you...
There are some interesting effects: look out for the light sourced sphere bouncing around the screen, and the refractive one doing the same thing. However, this is a first effort - it shows - and the code creaks quite visibly in places: the image-rotation section notably, slows down very considerably at some angles but not at others, which shouldn't really happen in an FX demo particularly as it isn't a difficult problem to fix.
This isn't the cutting edge of Acorn demos, nor did Orig-ARM-I ever claim it was.



By Arm's Tech
A single-effect demo, this jumps around a small plot of land in 3d, all super smooth with some very fast polygon plotting! It doesn't show off the StrongArm very much, but there is a multi-tasking version which runs in a window in the desktop while you're doing other things :-)



By Kulture
Kulture's entry to Revelation '97 is a short but very large (2Mb+) number running in full colour. It starts off with some nice title effects - the brilliant lighting on the "Freestyle" title comes out very well - and then runs into two main effects, firstly a rotating cube with coloured lighting, complete with a lens-flared light source behind it, then a strange-looking wireframe which spins around, leaving a slowly fading trail in its wake.
That's it - there's the credits sequence and then it's all over! For a demo with such a short running time Freestyle is massive, although the large full colour bitmaps probably take up much of this. Oh, and the music is really hot.
Pretty good, despite its shortness.



By Quantum (now Kulture)
This was Quantum's production for the StrongArm CD - maybe not technically the best demo on it, but Icon's bitmap graphics are second only to Fluoro's (and much higher res) and although there isn't anything really remarkable, there are several nice effects on offer. A series of fading titles is followed by some images with dark bands moved across them, and faded together in the same manner; a few transitions, then a rather good light sourced 3d spreading thing (I forget what that's called, see the screenshot), a rotating, warping texture, and then the credits sequence. Not bad, although Icon doesn't show off the StrongArm as much as some of the other demos on that CD.



By Expression
This is a 64K intro and a rather odd one. Much of it seems to be centred around a rather tacky and very silly cow picture, which is rotated, mapped onto a cube and warped around in all sorts of wacky ways! There's also a moving, morphing 3d object leaving a trail behind it, a 3d walkabout thing (rather slow that), and a real time mandelbrot zoomer, rather low res which is a pity. The soundtrack (by Cry from The Xperience) is very good considering the size limit on it!



Rating: OK
DFI's first proper demo: interesting, although it's a shame there isn't any music.
After the very nice watery opening sequence (it jerks a little in places but the effect isn't simple) watch of for the big stone chess-pieces, the towers reflected in water, a 3D voxelscape (well, a lot of grey tubes actually, but it's technically pretty good) and a nice gouraud-shaded texture map to end that you'll recognise if you've followed the Acorn User series on 3D engines.
July is technically good but I feel it is a little tacky in places - the chessmen "look" very angular and the viewpoint isn't that interesting (up-and-down movement would have added a lot to it). DFI will be a force to be reckoned with in the future though, I think.



By Arm's Tech
Frederic Elisei has obviously spent a lot of time writing a really good light sourcing routine, and this demo certainly shows it off on a variety of objects. Many of the light sources or objects can be moved around manually using the mouse - just to prove it's all realtime! It's also in a high colour, high res display and very impressive.
After the light sourcing, there's also a "Plastic Pool" - an unusual water-type simulation - and a very good realtime Julia set. This is in high resolution and makes use of the StrongArm's high speed multiply instructions to great effect, making previous renderers look very slow! The demo ends with a fire effect spelling out the words "ARM'S TECH" all over the screen, and there's also a hidden section - no I won't give anything away!
It's a shame that this had to be put together to a strict deadline to make it onto the StrongArm CD-Rom because technically this is one of the best demos on the scene: if some transitional effects and music were added it would be stunning. It's still very good though, and there are lots of PD soundtrackers around now so you can add music yourself if you want to.



By Archiologics, Icebird and Swampt
One of the first proper RiscPC demos - this flashes by all too fast on a StrongArm, although it's pretty good while it lasts...
The first effect is a (rather visually foreshortened) landscape which I have to say, reminds me more of fried eggs than anything else, although as the demo was released at the Fried Bits 3 demo party... There's also some bitmap graphics (in Gizmo's characteristic cartoony style), a water effect similar to many others, notably in Era, some spinning 3d objects, a dots section and a rather drawn-out although pretty good credits sequence.
The music is very odd! But altogether this is a good demo, although you get longer to see it on Arm610/710 machines!



By S.O.L.
This feels much like an old Amiga-style demo: scrolltexts with effects in the background... but the effects are more up-to-date than most of those...
Terrademo starts off with a scrolltext and a picture of a RiscPC with a zooming and rotating texture displayed on it. It's amazing how short a time ago everyone thought that was stunning...
This is a "Megademo", so there is a whole sequence of effects... The real time Julia set was pretty good for its time, although it is somewhat trounced now by Frederic Elisei's stunning one in MissTech. A section to look out for is the 3D landscape: it's too slow to be impressive, really, and the StrongArm doesn't speed it up very much, but the number of polygons being plotted is quite incredible.
Overall this is was a good production for its time and still looks fairly nice... although the author has, fairly visibly, little experience in presenting a demo and the 256-colour visuals do look tacky in places.



By Xymox Project
Time's Up
This was designed long before anyone got round to coding it, apparently... It shows: this is another fairly old-style production, containing a number of scrolltexts to read (out of fashion now: nobody seems to be bothered anymore!)
There are quite a few effects, they can last as long or as short a time as you wish (press middle mouse button to go to next effect). Nothing visually amazing: the best is quite possibly the morphing dot-shapes in the transitional effect, but this takes a little while in itself, and as it's shown in between each section of the demo, it can get annoying after a while.
The music is excellent, up there among the best demo music I've heard.



By The Xperience
The Xperience's first proper production, and one of the best displays of how good Acorn's original ARM2 based machines were. This is a big demo and packs in lots of effects. There are quite a few moving-dots objects (including a ripples section made up of literally thousands of points); several 3D objects (look out for the novel twisting board near the start); a refracting sphere, the list goes on.
Presentation-wise, this isn't quite up to the standard of The Xperience's later demos - the restriction to 256 colours makes many of the images look a bit tacky, in particular. However, it all rolls by at a good speed even on the slowest machines, and certainly is proof that your old A310 isn't quite finished yet!
The music has appeared separately as a Digital Symphony tracker but I have a strong feeling this isn't such good quality as the original...
Despite rumours to the contrary Xcentric will run on any Acorn machine up to and including a StrongArm RiscPC if good use is made of a cache control utility, although it won't be very stable. The RiscPC mode def supplied isn't very good so I designed a better one for it, this works much better on my AKF60. It's 98Hz so the use of VSyncX2 or similar to slow the interrupt rate will stop the speed from going through the roof.



Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
By The X-Team
A class apart, this one. At 4.5Mb it's the biggest Acorn demo by a long way. Xtreme was created by lots of different people, and is basically loads of effects one after the other. A major fault in this demo is there's no linking whatsoever between effects.
That said many parts of it are very good. There's far too many to list them all, but look out for the shade bobs (these must be one of the best ever implementations), the voxelscape, and in particular the lightsourced 3D objects, phew. The music is also consistently good.
Much of this demo doesn't work on a StrongArm at all, so those sections are bypassed if you've got the fast processor. It's a shame that they couldn't have been fixed, though, particularly as this was included on the StrongArm CD-Rom.
If you can survive the gigantic download, this is worth a look. Unique.

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