I was telling someone the other day about the time my Dad brought home the family's first CD-ROM — complete with a gaming magazine and demo disc.
My brother and I made monthly trips to the local newsagent to procure new magazines. They were mostly for the demo CDs, of course, since it was cheaper to drop the sub-$20 every month to get a taste of 10 or 12 games rather than actually just buying one game (which only one of us would end up being able to play).
Some demos were outstanding, games that would immediately become birthday or Christmas presents. StarCraft, Virtua Pool, Heroes of Might and Magic, even games like Tennis Elbow quickly became beloved. (Although the latter wasn't actually sold in Australia at any point, at least not until digital distribution became a thing.)
I've been meaning to stream and playthrough a bunch of demo discs recently, because it's a wonderful snapshot of gaming history. Last year I went through one of the discs I found, and it played reasonably well through DOSBox.
As for some of the standout demos:
- Jedi Knight: Dark Forces — the early demo level was a great size for people to become accustomed to the game's mechanics.
- Quake — September 1996 was a great month.
- Diablo — Just enough dungeon crawling to whet the appetite.
- Magic: The Gathering — The demo of MicroProse's game, which featured just some battles vs. AI without any of the Shandalar content, was how I first discovered the CCG. Played it to death with a friend, who ended getting a lot more into the game than I did.
- Grand Theft Auto — The original demo was a quick timed experience, which turned the whole thing into an awesome arcade-esque experience where my brother and I would just try and rack up the fastest possible score. Amazing demo.
All platforms had great demos, though. But what demos do you remember the most, the ones that you replayed over and over?