A Mekka Mega surprise from Ephydrena!
We met a very nice chap at Mekka Symposium. He was previously unknown to a
lot of us Atarians as well. But with over a thousand people at Mekka, many
of them complete dickheads, the odds were sort of in our favour that one or
two cool people made it there as well.
He brought a rather relaxed presence to the party. And something pleasantly
surprising too. In an uncharacteristically barren desert for Atari demo
releases, he announced that the Amiga group Ephydrena had rallied around him
to produce an entirely new demo for the Falcon.
He also told us that it was a new kind of production, somewhat unlike
anything that had gone before, "Noisier than the average Atari demo.." Those
were the words he used to describe it (or something like that? My brain
functions weren't so great by then. The Mekka Symposium weekend was turning
into one of those KGB or CIA sponsored survival of interrogation techniques
My brain didn't function that well when it came to the demo viewings either.
First impressions were indistinct, and largely of the basis that the showing
itself was poorly organised. I came home, vowed to wait for the finished and
optimised version, and when the deadline for this issue of Alive!
approached, I finally downloaded the Mekka version, confronting it for the
first time on the small screen...
This demo Runs in 14 megabytes of RAM (or above) only, it seems to prefer
some kind of accelerator, a CT2 is ideal. Also a 100 hz VGA screen is
required. This demo rules out a lot of base hardware, and interest from
those remaining sceners determined to stick to the 4 Meg memory limit. There
is quite a hefty download too, three megabytes odd, which depacks to over 5
megabytes. This from an original Amiga animation format which packed to
So what do we get?
The initial presentation is freaky, a scarecrow-psycho face smears onto the
screen and off again. This is the only use of colour in the demo, as the
rest of it adopts an extremely downbeat and moody black and white persona,
or shades of browny-grey. On reflection, Nerve should have made a demo with
lots of bright colours that could easily be seen on the big projector
Some stark white on black background title credits drip on and off the
screen. It also seems that the 100 hz on my VGA monitor isn't quite there,
as we get a sort of wrap-around effect, which I don't remember from the big
There is a rippling bubbling texture screen next, it is still dark.
Then some anxious and shivering moire type patterns oscillate uneasily on
the small screen next.
Getting to the mid-part of the two minutes and thirty seconds of the demo,
with a high speed black and white animation in a dark rave style next, my
screen double faults again.
Then there is more moire (get that!) with different patterns crowding one on
top of the other.
Then there is a bitch of a screen to describe. Nerve sets a task which is
nearly impossible for conventional demo reviewers. But I try anyway! It
consists of something like a shade bar 'v' and inverted 'v' appearing at the
bottom and top of the screen respectively. These appear and fade one after
Almost home now, and an Earx coded guest screen awaits. This comes back with
a gloomy sepia-shaded version of the scarecrow head that we saw at the start
of the demo. it seems to be smouldering, as if on a bonfire? Earx adds in
some semi transparent smoke to boost the effect. This is the most
conventional screen on the whole demo. Hope we see something of Earx's own
Smoke gets in Earx's Eyes!
The end screen returns to the sparse black setting, as a little fuji Atari
logo flaps its 'wings', then flys away.
A GEM dialogue box at the end of the demo tells you the frames per second it
averaged, something between 15 and 48 frames per second on my CT2.
The music fits the show very well. Everything in the 'conveying a sense of
anxiety and foreboding part of the soundtracker music disk' has been used,
along with some harsh, almost chiplike white-noise percussion. The end
result is pretty cool, cutting off suddenly at the end.
Works very well as a 'mood' rather than as a conventional demo. Does not
work at all well on big screen. To get the best from it, look at it closely
on the small screen as an intimate and close-up experience.
It felt rough-cut and not totally finished. The demo ran satisfactorily on my
hardware, but others may have had problems? Lived up well to its 'unusual'
pre-billing, and I would dearly like to see the final version, maybe optimised
for the CT60?
Overall - 70% - Interestingly different, too hard to mark conventionally,
and screaming out for tidying up, optimisation, maybe some more effects?
CiH for Alive! Mag - June '02