News Team Current issue History Online Support Download Forum @Pouet

01 - 02 - SE - 03 - 04 - 05 - 06 - 07 - 08 - 09 - 10 - 11 - 12 - 13 - 14

Alive 12
20 Years of  Atari Demos
The ATARI ST has recently reached its mature age, namely the more than decent 
age of 20 years old, what I would  dare call a record in  computer sciences ! 
Yes it was born in 1985 and if it doesn't mean that much compared to the span 
of humanity, it DOES mean a  LOT more in a digital  world where computers are 
now called obsolete less than 6 months after release. 

 It was supposed to  display everything in a 320x200 window, 16 colors only and
 could  only replay basic tunes thru the incorporated YM chip... But years have
 shown us so  many wonders ! Overscan  or even fullscreen, up to 4096 colors at
 once (and surely more)  and so many unforgettable  tunes ! The ST has lived up
 way above the expectations of his makers and surely today if they knew it they
 would have a heart attack !

 So, it's now time to have a good look back at these demos that will always be
 remembered  and watched endlessly. Unfortunately  since I only  came in touch
 with this field in the early 90s I cannot tell you about earlier tries :(

 Digging thru my demo shoebox, I watched an awful lot of demos... Some got me
 bored  some  enough and I was  pretty disappointed from the memories I hold.
 Others still looked and sounded great and that the reason why I'm now trying
 to give you a view on my very personal selection.


 Yes 14 years ago ! THE LOST  BOYS released "OH  CRICKEY WOT A  SCORCHER" while
ULM unveiled  the "DARK SIDE OF THE SPOON". When  watching  these  demos again
 they surely look oldschool, quite natural indeed but have you ever seen a main
 menu with poly landscape  or such a treat  as ULM's fullscreen  main menu plus
 parallax AND  sample ? Most  screens  included  look very "old" now  but still
 enjoyable thanks to cool gfx, opened borders, rasters and tunes we all know by
 heart !

1992-94 : ENJOY THE POWER OF 8MHZ ! 

 I am not too sure about some release dates here though I've been  watching the
 following  demos a lot. Here  we find  the first  pretender, namely the hugely
 praised FLIP'O demo ! It  still looks  great thanks  to gfx from  true legends
 including Spiral who left this  world about one year ago :( Sound and code are
 awesome and the overall quality is still top notch ! Among my favourite you'll
 also find FROGGIES OVER THE FENCE which features the same qualities with a lot
 more like that slideshow of 4096 colored piccies + soundtrack on a bare ST but
 also their version of the "Another World" cinematic, greatly enhanced tho, not
 to forget a huge demopart wich gathered a LOT of talented French sceners !

 Another demo that rings to me is ANOMALY. Codewise it's no sky rocket imho but
 the marble madness main  menu added to  many cool screens  make it a very nice
 demo worth another watch here and there.

 Last but not least, SYNERGY brought us their own megademo with so many things
 to be seen from  the furious  intro to  their unique 3D trip inside the demo.
 Above all I've always loved Scavenger's tunes and we're given so many of them
 here ! Not to forget the great Crapman game with 2 players and the zen lyrics
 to be read  in various  screens, including 'Pajaro', aka the "inside story of

APPENDUM : Tho not running on ST, there's one demo from that time that no one 
can decently  put  away, it's  BRAIN DAMAGE  by AGGRESSION. I don't think any
other STEonly demo has ever carved its signature in the Atari demoscene. Sure 
sometimes they enjoyed soundtracks, as in  the IMAGINA series, or offered STe 
palette or used Blitter. However imho BRAIN DAMAGE  managed to bring the best 
of STe  features, all in one ! From the prerendered introduction to the final 
light shaded tunnel, it's all good ! 

1995 - 1998 : NO MAN'S LAND

 Surely the empiest years in the ST demos history... At that time the true star
 was the Falcon, some natural evolution as you could say. We saw newcomers from
 Eastern Europe but  except  for a couple of  intros by SYNTAX, there wasn't so
 much to feed on... If I remember well  BACK IN FRANCE  was the only "big" demo
 released at that time tho I doubt it will be remembered as one of the best :)

 I'm trying to find more demos released back then but there are not, unless my
 brain suddenly refuses to remember...

1999 - 2003 : REBIRTH ! 

 Then it all happened at once and surely the great ERROR IN LINE party played a
 huge part in this rebirth ! It gave us several great demos like SWEETIE by DHS
 or BREATH by  MYSTIC BITES but above  all SURETRIP by  CHECKPOINT which pushed
 the ST FAR FAR away  from written specs ! Even today, this demo enjoys a great
 "woh" effect on everyone I guess. In 1999  we were also offered  DO THINGS  by
 CREAM, one of  my  favourite  demos  and the so long awaited VIRTUAL ESCAPE by
 EQUINOX, definitely the BEST 'oldschool' demo of all times imho !

 2000 : one year later Leonard of OXYGENE released a very nice 3D trip simply
 called STNICCC 2000, something that looked a lot like some known Falcon demo
 but on the wrong platform :)

 2001 : This second  edition of  ERROR IN LINE  brought quite a bunch of Falcon
 demos but the ST was almost starving then... Fortunately SECTOR ONE  had taken
ODD STUFF with them on  their trip to  Dresden ! Technically speaking it's not
 breaking any limits BUT the overall  quality is almost  PERFECT will neat gfx,
 lots of cool transitions and many great ideas. Quotation from ST Ghost : "I'll
 never do that again !" :)

 2002 : We had to wait till 2002 before Grazey brought us his amazing UMD 8730
 compil ! Surely not a milestone demowise, except for the 21 minute long intro
 but above all it gathered thousands of ST chips from all known composers.

 2003 : As another edition of ERROR IN LINE was hold more ST demos  were dreamt
 of. DHS brought us  MOVING INTO  DARKNESS, a perfect  combination of code, gfx
 and msx while RESERVOIR GODS took us by surprise  with GRIMEY  which is still
 unique in  my heart ! And  once again  CHECKPOINT  made the earth tremble with
POSH, showing that the ST was  pretty good at  breaking limits, even  18 years
 later. Also CHECKPOINT brought us the most amazing 4Kb simply called 4STER and
 featuring not only msx but also 4 or 5 different fx !

 In the same year, DUNE fully came back to life after a couple of intros. First
 they managed - courtesy of ST Ghost - to get ILLUSION assembled and bugfixed 9
 years after it was planned to be out !! On xmas eve they also delivered a very
 nice demo called  FANTASIA  which perfectly mixes old and newschool stuff with
 cool gfx by master Mic. A really gift for demo lovers !


 Peacefully heading for its 20 years, the ATARI ST demoscene is also getting
 slower tho it can easily be explained : we are all getting older, busy with
 life and have understood that no new  generation would come and support the
 old monkeys we are :) Tho the pace has gone very slow, supporters are still
 here and taking their time to polish their babies before release.

 2004 was a quite empty year since I cannot find any big release, only intros
 here and there...

 But in 2005, the STe lovers of PARADOX brought the good old vibe  back with
PACEMAKER ! Dunno if it'll be remembered as a milestone, still it's a fully
 enjoyable  STe  experience  with  neat fx, cool  gfx, great  sound and many
 polished details which  are imho the most important  thing to try and reach
 perfection. A demo I'll run again and again for sure !

 And of course I couldn't end this article  without mentionning the 20 YEARS 
 megademo : we go back to the roots with the wellknown character moving from
 one door to another to run independent screens. Maybe not  a sky rocket but
 surely a GREAT  cooperation involving about  60  hardcore sceners ! A great
 gift for a birthday and for Xmas too !

2005 AND LATER ? :

 The Atari ST has had its share of great  demos and if you have  missed some of
 them, well you still have  enough time to download them under the xmas tree :)
 Naturally many  releases haven't been mentioned here  because of their "minor"
 impact on the Scene what doesn't mean in  any way that they weren't any good !
 Now it's up to you to dig up these demos and watch them again to make your own
 opinion :)

 Of course the latest BIG demo  released on the ST is the 20  Years Anniversary
 megademo released some weeks ago and it truly rocks ! Now the last demo I wish
 I could see someday is HEFTIG... Do you hear me Santa ??? Come on, I've been a
 nice ATARI kid for 15 years now ! :)

 ------------------------------------------------------ STS for Alive 12 ------
Alive 12