The Dark Court

Reviews of new c64 demos.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

"Hello:FRIEND" by Fairlight

score:8/10 (GEM)

I guess by now we all know what to expect of a 'typical' Hollowman demo: lots of dialogue, talking heads, strange graphics, (vector) animations, the odd hardcore effect and, as final ingredient, the theme.

This time it's all about "isolation": the main character caused an accident and as a result his friends have dropped him like a hot potato. After a while though it becomes clear that there's more to it: appearantly he did something else, something that's maybe even worse than causing another human being having to spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair.

It may be clear by now that this is not really your average c64 demo. Instead Hollowman tells a story and manages to get the viewer (well, at least me) guessing about what really happened to the protagonist. This is quite a feat, and a serious step up from making people break their heads over how a certain effect was coded.

Hollowman is at his best when he injects personal elements into his demos, like he did with "Manhood" and "Pretending to see the light". But there's another side to him as well, that of the (technical) coder and graphician. In the past I've wondered if his demos wouldn't profit from 'better' graphics but I guess I have gotten used to his style, as I quite like them here. Even though they're a bit unclear from time to time they fit the demo perfectly, with the final picture as an excellent example. Coding wise it's as if he's no longer trying to prove himself, which is a good thing as in the past his urge to do so got in the way of the final result.

A great piece of work, showing once again that Hollowman is a true artist. I'm already looking forward to his next release.

Friday, August 26, 2005

"Irrational" by Chorus

score: 6/10

First things first: Demode 2 this is not. Instead it looks more like "Demode 50%" or "Demode - the leftover parts", with code & graphics that just weren't good enough for last years' surprise hit. That doesn't mean it's a bad demo though, and how could it be? the Hungarian super-duo of Clarence & Leon are masters of their craft, and with 'regular guest musicians' Drax & Fanta on board again, there's just way too much talent involved.

A lot of attention has been paid to smoothen up the design with small effects adding to the overall style. It even reminded me a bit of the first 2 demos WWE released last year - only of a much higher quality ofcourse. Unfortunately most of the main effects are of the 'seen before' variety, with only the last part making a more original impression.

In the end this demo is somewhat forgettable: 10 minutes after I checked it for the first time I had trouble remembering what I just saw. And while this was more than enough for winning a small party like Arok there is no doubt in my mind that this wouldn't have stood a chance at a bigger event like, for example, LCP (which took place a week earlier). So let's hope that when the day comes that Chorus faces some real competition, they'll step up to the plate and again show us what they really are capable of.

"Forgotten Bytes" by Science 451

Forgotten Bytes
Science 451
score: 4/10

This is the second demo by Science 451 since 'they' (actually just one person, H.O.) returned, and like its predecessor it contains rasters, lots and lots of rasters. But where 'Sixteen years of silence' at least possessed a certain charm, this one is just plain old-fashioned, nothing more. No wonder, since two of the parts, as well as the intro, were coded in 1988, and the only new part was created in the same vein. Unfortunately it makes for a very bland demo, with no redeeming features apart from the classic tunes.

All please rise ..

I've been reviewing c64 demos for diskmags since 1991, at first for the legendary Sh0ck, and later for other mags such as The Pulse, Driven and Scene+. I also have written a number of articles for the scene portal. And while I may continue doing that, it's time for the next step: a blog entirely dedicated to my rantings on new releases. 'New' being the important word here: I'll try my best to have a review of a demo written within the shortest time possible after it's released.

What I will not try to do though is review everything. A lot of the stuff today is just plain crap and doesn't deserve my time watching it, let alone writing about it. Instead I'll concentrate on the so-called 'gems': demos that, on a scale of 1 to 10, would score an 8 (Good), 9 (Excellent) or a 10 (Magnificent).

Since there aren't too many gems being made these days (only 5 last year!) I'll also give some attention to those scoring a little lower (6 or 7), because as I found out during all those years, a lot of people don't really share my taste in demos, and may feel that what I think is just decent, is in fact the greatest thing since sliced bread.

Way too many commas in that last sentence.

If a demo scores 5 or lower most of the time I will only mention it just to make sure people know I've actually seen it, in an 'also released' list. Right now I'm still doubting whether I'll publish the scores of such demos as well, or just leave it out. After all, nobody likes being told that their work only deserves a 3 out of 10. Still I guess I will piss people off, but then again, I've been doing so for many years with my reviews. Since 1991, to be precise ..

I am the Dark Judge, and this is my Court.