When I first got my original PlayStation for my birthday back in November 1995, I had Tekken and WWF WrestleMania The Arcade Game to tide me over until Christmas of that year. But I also had a demo disc that came with the PlayStation. This was the original PlayStation demo disc that had that demo of the T-Rex which blew our minds back in the day. Anyway, there were a few games on here I could play and I do remember getting a magazine in the run up to Christmas that had a demo disc with it which did last me until Santa brought me some games on Christmas morning.
These days if you want a demo, you download it from your console’s store, but back in the 90’s and even into the mid 00’s it was all about demo discs.
This to me was the real era of the demo disc or at least when I was really excited about it. The main demo disc I want to talk about is one that came with the Official UK PlayStation Magazine. This was a kind of weird demo in that rather than giving you a specific section of the game to play, it gave you time. I think it was 10 – 15 minutes and in that time, you could do as much as you could in the game.
I spent hours and hours with this demo, shaving seconds off that time, getting a little farther each time as I did! It was an awesome demo and I have to add, that this disc also had other demos on it! I think it was the Christmas issue of 1997, but I cannot be 100 percent sure of this, but I do think I played it over Chrismas break in 1997.
One other really good memory I have of the PS1 demo disc days was when Sony released the PlayStation Net Yaroze. With this, people could develop their own PlayStation games and for a while, the Official UK PlayStation Magazine would actually put these games on their demo disc! Most of these I have forgotten about. But there was this one football (soccer) game that was done in the style of Sensible Soccer that was awesome! I put hours and hours into this game, but it did not allow you to save your game which was a bit of a downer, but still, I loved this little football game that some random dude had made.
PS2, Xbox And Beyond
The Dreamcast also had a magazine that would come with a demo disc each month, but despite having a Dreamcast, I can count on one hand the amount of magazines I bought. But the PlayStation 2? That was a different matter altogether. While there was still the official magazines for the PS2 and original Xbox, other magazines would also be released and some of these would have demo discs as well.
I remember that sometimes magazines would boast about how their demo disc would have as much as 15 hours of gameplay on it! Loaded up with all kinds of games, these demo discs were awesome and for many people, it would sway them into buying a game they might otherwise have ignored had they not had the chance to play a demo. If you had buddies who had different magazine subscriptions one thing you could do (and I did do) was swap demo discs.
While in theory downloading a demo is much easier for a developer and easier on the consumer’s wallet. For me, losing the monthly demo disc that is packed with demo’s is a bad thing. I will not always take the time to download a demo or even know about one. But when you got that disc each month and you saw a demo of a game staring you in the face at the main menu, 99/100 you would give it a try.
What was your experience with demo discs?
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