Back again with a Demo Disc Retrospective as I feel it makes a nice change of pace now and then and allows me to revisit my youth. For those not au fait with these particular versions of Retro Respawn, I take a look at a demo disc from the days of yore to see how effective a tool it is at making me want to purchase the games contained within it. I was inspired to do this after Caddicarus did a video based around the idea, so go and give Daddy Caddy’s YouTube page a look if you dig this. The demo I’ll be looking at this week is one that I’m guessing a lot of PlayStation owners will be familiar with as it was the one boxed in with the console itself, going under the name Demo 1.
However, depending on when you first purchased your PSX, the experience you had with Demo 1 may be different from mine. For you see, as the PSX continued to sell by the gangbusters over multiple years, SONY not unwisely decided to regularly update Demo 1 with newer releases. The initial Demo 1 came with demos for games such as Battle Arena Toshinden and WipeOut, whilst latter versions came with Tekken 3 and Kula World. I got my PSX in the autumn of 1998, so the version of Demo 1 I got may be slightly different from the one you own. If it is, why not share your differing experiences in the comments section?
As something that came with packed in with the console itself, the role of Demo 1 was to make you as a new adapter to the PSX want to go out and spend your hardearned Bison Dollars on new games to go along with your new hardware. The disc itself boots up with a cool intro, showing off games like Tekken and Ridge Racer, which were the sort of revolutionary “have the arcade experience at home” releases that really helped put the PSX on the map when it first hit the scene. After that we head into the main disc menu, which is set into four different sections of “Games”, “Movies”, “Tech” and “V-CD”. We’ll look at the games first, if that’s okay with everyone? (I don’t know why I’m asking, you have no real control over the matter. Best to be polite, I guess though, eh?).
Oddworld: Abe’s Oddysee
Developed: Oddworld Inhabitants
Published: GT Interactive
Abe wastes little time impressing the player with a new opening video explaining the game’s plot and introducing the setting of RuptureFarm’s meat processing factory. As someone who had still been toiling with my SNES, seeing a fully animated video like this with CD quality audio blew my poor ravaged mind. Playing as the titular Abe, you need to not only escape the deadly factory but also assist your mates in escaping. In a neat feature, you can actually communicate with the NPC characters, getting them to follow you so you can (hopefully) guide them to safety.
The game takes the form of a 2D platformer, but it looks good graphically, and a lot of thought has been put into the gameplay. Abe is pretty useless in a fight, and thus, he has to use his noodle to take out the baddies, although he is helped by the power to possess certain enemies. Sadly, I’m utterly rubbish at this game, which is a shame as I like it, and I’d probably like it even more if I wasn’t so crap at playing it. The demo is pretty generous in how much of the game it gives you to experience, and I think few would complain with what you are given to play with.
Would I Buy It? – I sadly wouldn’t because I’m just so awful at it, but I’m pretty confident others who managed to wrap their head around the gameplay would at least be intrigued to give it a go.
Published: SCE Europe and Virgin Interactive
Based on the animated movie from Disney, Hercules sees you taking control of the titular character for a quick sojourn to an ancient Greek city, where you have a mini-boss battle with a Minotaur and take down some petty thieves with your fists and sword. I remember kind of liking this game in my youth, but going back to it here, I found it moved far slower than I remembered. Visually, the game doesn’t look that amazing either, with the colours being a bit flat. Herc himself is pretty fragile too for a supposed demi-god, with lots of annoying NPCs and enemies picking away at your health bar.
Would I Buy It? – I actually liked the demo enough back in the day that I was moved to rent the game from the video shop (remember when that was a thing you could do?), but I didn’t really enjoy it and was never moved to buy it afterwards. I think this game was a tad more impressive to an impressionable lad like myself from 1998 than it would be to most today, unless you just hoover up everything Disney so long as it’s even remotely playable.
Developed and Published: Psygnosis
This is 3D first-person shooter action as you take control of the titular Tenka and walk around shooting stuff (mostly robots). It’s a game that’s VERY of its time, but it’s also not without its charm. Like a lot of FPS games from the 90s, you kind of just wander around in the hope that you’ll work out what it is you actually need to do, with the game not really giving you any particular hints. In a nice touch, you can actually use the analogue sticks on the Dual-Force controller in this game, which is not something all games from this time supported.
Would I But It? – Probably not. It’s a bit too overly blocky and grimy from a visual perspective for me, which made it a bit too difficult to immerse myself. The grungy dystopian shooter vibes it gives off will probably tickle some people’s fancies though.
Developed: SCE Studios Soho
This one also has support for the analogue sticks, but I personally found the D-pad to be a bit more responsive and instead used that. You get to complete one race against five CPU opponents, with the race having a moving start in a neat twist. As someone who knows as much about cars as I do about Kierkegaard, I really can’t tell you how realistic the Porsche cars on display actually are, although I did think the graphics were pretty blocky, in all honesty.
The tracks have branching paths in another interesting twist from the standard racer, and I found that I was eventually getting used to the way the cars handled after a few playthroughs of the demo itself. The cars handle really heavily, which means you need to adjust the way you play with that in mind, learning how to apply the brakes at the right time in order to complete some of the more difficult corners. Again, I’m not sure if these sorts of cars are really heavy in real life and the game is just being realistic, or if that’s just how SCE programmed everything.
Would I Buy It? – I’d rent instead of buy, I think, with it possibly turning into a purchase down the line if it became a hidden gem after some more time spent playing it.
Published: Namco and SCEE
This is one of the stingier offerings as you get to race on a mere singular lap of the third game in the Ridge Racer series. As a result, it’s very difficult to get anywhere close to the front of the 12-car pack. That aside, it’s a Ridge Racer game, so you can basically predict what you’re getting before you even play it, although I must say this is probably the drabbest of the four PSX titles based purely on this demo.
Would I Buy It? – I like Ridge Racer, so maybe, but I would have liked a more substantial demo.
Developed: SCE Studios Soho
Yes, yet another racing game, although this one has a water theme as you race in a motorboat in a game that feels a bit like Wave Racer from the N64crossed with WipeOut. The demo does have a nice opening video, but the actual in-game graphics are pretty ugly to a modern eye. Overly sensitive steering and no option to brake make the actual racing absolutely merciless if you brush up against any of the scenery. You best have a flawless run, or you’ll never complete the course in time.
Would I Buy It? – Not based off this, no. It looks awful and isn’t fun to play. Also, it would have been nice to have a bit more variety in game types instead of chucking in another racing game when there are already two on here.
Kurushi (Intelligent Qube)
Developed: G Artists
Kurushi is a really interesting puzzle game where you have to destroy blocks before they knock you off the stage to a rather unsettling death. It’s brilliant, but I suck at it. The demo does kind of chuck you in the deep end by making you start on Level 2, which seems a bit unfair. Why not let us do Level 1 first before doing that so dim-witted clunks like me have a chance to warm up our feeble brains?
Would I Buy It? – I would, if only to practice in an attempt to not be so bad at it.
Developed and Published: Psygnosis
This is one of the more interesting demos as you control a pirate ship and have to take down planes and other ships with a varied collection of weaponry whilst also solving puzzles and avoiding traps. It’s good fun, and I did manage to complete the demo way back in the day, but this time it kicked my arse a bit. I’m sure with some further playthroughs though, I could best the seven seas once again (maybe). The sea-based combat is actually quite fun, although it can become pretty difficult when enemies attack you in large numbers all at once.
Would I Buy It? – I actually did! I always joked with my friend, Adam, that I liked the demo but never quite enough to buy it, but I saw it pretty cheap a few years back and decided to pick it up. I’ve still not given it a proper play though, so maybe that’s something to think about for next year?
This is a tech demo where you get to control a fully 3D dinosaur. You can’t really do much other than choose what direction it walks in and make it do a couple of special facial expressions, but to have something in full 3D like this was really impressive when the PSX first came out, and it makes sense to include it here to show off the 3D capabilities of the machine to new adaptors.
This one is a bit more chilled than Dino as you instead get to see a manta ray swimming in the ocean whilst a school of fish pings around it. Of the two, Dino always tends to be more fondly remembered than Manta, probably because it’s a dinosaur, and people tend to think those are especially cool, but I think Manta is still impressive as well. It’s got a nice ambient feeling to it, and the fish are a nice touch
Both of these demos exist to show off what the PSX can do in the 3D realm, and seeing as 3D was such a big part of the hype when it came to the fifth gen of console gaming, it makes complete sense to include them here, and I know I certainly thought they were cool when I was younger.
This video combines game footage with the awesome “Edge of Soul” song from the game’s intro. It certainly got me intrigued in the game itself when I watched it back in the day!
Rosco is firefighter who is tackles robots in a big apartment complex, and this video shows in-game footage set to a song that is basically the Mission: Impossible Theme with enough tweaks to get it past some lawyers. It makes the game look interesting at least, although I’m not sure I’d ever buy it.
This basically gives you a screensaver that will react to a music CD if you insert one into the PSX console. It’s fun enough, but if you suffer from migraines or epilepsy, then you would be best placed to give it a wide berth. Still, it’s another fun extra that comes with the demo that shows off what the machine is capable of.
The version of Demo 1 isn’t perfect by any means, and it probably could have done with either a fighting game or a sports game in place of one of the racing games, but it still works as a good introduction to the PlayStation, and it certainly got me jazzed for my new bit of kit when I first booted it up all those years ago.
Now that you can download most demos, the idea of packing in a demo disc with a new console has fallen by the wayside, which is a shame as giving a new adapter a demo disc to go alongside whatever software they bought initially with the console gave them a nice little extra thing to get their teeth into before setting out to really build up a proper library of games.
There’s something to be said for giving a newcomer to your machine something that’s packed in that will show them what they can look forward to down the line. It’s just a nice little thing that you can do, and I know that taking a look at the demo disc that came with my PSX or PS2 was all part of the excitement that came with getting your hands on a new console.
Oh well, the world moves on, I guess…