Downloadable demos are great, but I miss demo discs

In the late 90’s I would often stay at my cousin’s house, where we would (to put it mildly) spend some time playing on his PlayStation. Despite having a plentiful games library, we were able to spend hours Play the demo discs. Games like PaRappa The Rapper, Armored Core, and Ace Combat 2, among others, flooded the TV screen in their individual squares in the demo screen menu as highlights of each game played. I was (for some reason) extremely bad at PaRappa The Rapper, but it felt like every time I passed and he was up, he was playing Intelligent Qube, a 1997 puzzle game where you have to solve riddles, made up of 3D squares before they push you off.


Thinking back, I don’t remember him ever getting the full versions of the games that were on the demo CD. This lonely demo CD was addictive. Sure, it didn’t have any of the full games on it, but it was like having an abbreviated version of Game Pass and other online video game library services. Each demo CD, usually packaged with consoles, contained numerous types of games and tons of fun.

It was like having your own little arcade in your house. When I finished the Intelligent Qube demo, like a kid who has a favorite song that annoys their parents, I would play it over and over again. Growing up and being a young gamer in the 90s had some perks. For example, when my parents and I went somewhere, I had to turn off whatever console I was playing. Having to restart my progress every time I turned off the switch didn’t bother me; I never thought about it, I just loved the fact that I could go home and play Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Hyperstone Heist.

I never went to my parents and asked for a PlayStation because I just played my cousin’s games all the time, so getting those games wasn’t that important to me. In fact, I didn’t make the jump from cartridge-based games to discs until I got the Sega Dreamcast for Christmas in 1999, so I never had any demos to play growing up.

I didn’t see demo discs as filled with abridged versions of games, I saw them as an armada of titles available to me. If I liked one enough, I could go to my parents and ask them to take me to the store to either buy a copy or borrow one for a few days.

When I was 11 at the time, I would spend hours playing Dreamcast demos of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing, The House of the Dead 2, Power Stone, and Sonic Adventure over and over again until my parents ended up buying me the latter. The Dreamcast was actually the only time I’ve ever owned a console that had game demos on disc. When I got my PlayStation 2 it came with a copy of NCAA Football 2003, which was a lot less exciting.

Downloadable demos just don’t go over like the discs. Maybe it’s because I’m too caught up in my own childhood memories, maybe it’s because I’ve been so exposed and introduced to them? That’s likely, but I honestly think that was because demo discs back then gave you a great idea of ​​what was in store on a given console. When I played the famous whale-churning-up-a-resort-boardwalk chase in the Sonic Adventure demo, I was instantly hooked.

The demo of this and other games showed me what was possible with this new technology. Power Stone was groundbreaking, like Capcom’s version of Super Smash Bros, but with completely original characters that fantastically transformed into powerful warriors. These days unless I am Yes, really If I’m interested in a game, I won’t download its demo. But think of a crowd like a 10-course meal and I’ll try every polygonal dish at least once. I believe that putting different types of games on one disc helps to develop more eclectic tastes when it comes to the types of games we consume.

I don’t know if I would be a fan of puzzle games if it weren’t for Intelligent Qube, but Sony put it into a collection of games accessible to my cousin and I. Demo discs aren’t a thing anymore, for obvious reasons, though Man they were funny back in the day. Downloadable demos are great, but I miss demo discs

Lindsay Lowe

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