Demo disks were an integral part of gaming throughout the late ’90s and early ’00s. In a time before open betas, early access, and digital gaming, demo disks inserted into gaming magazines were our chance to play upcoming releases before we bought them. For many, playing 20 minutes of a particular game was the most they ever experienced it, even if they loved what they had played.
Demo disks used to appear in gaming mags such as Official PlayStation Magazine, offering a few short experiences of upcoming releases. I remember playing through brief levels in the likes of Nightmare Creatures and Kula-World with these old disks, somehow spending hours with them but then not getting the full game afterward. There was one demo disk that contained a level from the 1997 Ghost in the Shell game, and I was glued to it. I knew nothing of the anime, though you got to play as a weird spider robot that could climb up walls. That blew my mind back in the day, as every other game had your feet firmly glued to the floor.
In the UK demo disks were even more of a goldmine, as we had access to the weird and wonderful Net Yaroze games. Net Yaroze was a development kit sold by Sony for £500, with amateur developers using it to create their own games. Some of these games were then featured on demo disks, and they ranged from the absurd and terrible to the actually quite impressive. One such Net Yaroze game was the appropriately titled Adventure Game, a 3D RPG with hilarious dialog and some pretty neat Ye Olde Time music:
If you didn’t grow up in the UK, then don’t worry, Net Yaroze games weren’t particularly consistent. However, they were an early example of the kind of oddities that now pop up on Steam, only these surfaced on disks with zero context as to what they were. Seriously, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I actually found out what Net Yaroze was, so I just spent a big chunk of my life thinking that demo disks contained these failed low-budget games that never saw the light of the day.
But that’s enough about me. What were your demo disk memories? Let us know in the comments below!
Image Credit: Ryokai / DeviantArt