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Demo Reviews (Part 2)
by Various Authors

BEERTIME IVA / DEKADENCE

CODE REVIEW by GRAHAM/OXYRON:

Just another Beertime demo? No, definitely not. This one shows that Dekadence improved a lot in the coding department with some new ideas and less use of the infamous 8x8 or 4x4 modes. The only 4x4 appears in the beginning of this demo and unlike the average 4x4 this one uses the vertical border too. A simple idea but it improves the impression a lot.

Another innovation of this demo is the new way to do interference circles and radial rays. Running in a very smooth 50 fps rate and a pseudo 2x2 pixel resolution, it's one of the best interference effects on C64.

Next up in the demo is a twister which has become common in many demos lately, but this time it is rotated 90 degrees, so no simple sprite routine can be used. A previous version of this effect has already been used in the former Dekadence demo "Pico", but this time the resolution of the wave has been improved, so that the overall quality of the effect is way better.

Some lesser effects of the demo are a small 4x4 tunnel animation used for a greetings part and an 8x8 plasma. Not much to say about them as both are nothing special, so let's continue with the last effect in this demo, which consists of some moving parallelograms (or how to call it). Obviously inspired by some Plus/4 demo which was released lately, but this is the first conversion to C64.

Conclusion: the code in this demo is quite good with only few downsides. Give Dekadence better graphicians and they will be able to produce killer demos.

MUSIC REVIEW by FANTA/OXYRON:

I expected a SounDemoN track here. But Dekadence ordered some help from Intensity, who later on joined the group, if I'm right informed. Intensity is known for doing mostly techno/trance stuff on C64 and he didn't make an exception here.

The tune is starting like a trance hymn with some echoed melody line and a filter sweep on it. The build up of the intro sequence progresses in common with the things we see on the screen. The chords and the bass begin to move up and down, also a snare comes in. He then fades out the echo very nicely, a bridge to slow down the tune with some relaxing harmonies and half speeded drums. Reminds me of the "Second Reality 2" break, but fits perfectly to the twister in my eyes and ears. I don't know if it was the intention, but now he totally skipped all filters, which isn't a good move. At least he should have done some decent filtering in one voice. However, the echo fades in again, filtered, and then the rave goes on un-filtered. I quite don't understand. :) Finally, the tune gets a simple lead melody that probably doesn't fit to a trance track, but hey, this is C64, so it's quite OK, I think. And this is already the end of a demo.

What's the conclusion? I guess Intensity listens a lot to trance stuff and the like. The melodies are simple, but pleasing me, especially in the break. He knows how to build up a tune and he also is a pro in pulse programming, that's because I teached him once how to do it without a "swallow" in the pulse. ;) I wished for more advanced filter programming and some harder hardrestart for this kind of music though. The tune is intended to run on a 8580. Next time, I recommend some compromise filter settings, so it's enjoyable on both SIDs. Well, actually it sounds fine on the old SID except for the lead in the end.

If you like this kind of music, Intensity is the man. Improveable, but all in all well done! If you like funk, better ask Drax instead.

LIVING / GLANCE

CODE REVIEW by OSWALD/RESOURCE

The quality of code varies a lot here, perhaps the good parts should have been spared to have the highlight of the demo right before the end, and not shoot away the best parts at the start. After all those "doom clones" the one in this demo is not as impressive as it could have been around 10 years ago, but I have to add that it looks to be well-coded. Although many thinks that "One-Der's" doompart strength is the big texture, I dislike that, because at distance all walls look like a pixel mess. So thumbs up for choosing the texture size with a good compromise. I don't know how much of this is precalculated, but if it's realtime, then it's one of the fastest of these routines out there.

The dot torus must be a "world record", but somehow it doesn't impress me. I think more time should have been spent on the fx to tune it up visually. I haven't checked the code, but I guess the torus shape gives space for some tricks in the code to speed it up. If it's not the case, then I would loved to have some more objects.

The next one is the chessboard part, which is codewise extremely cheap these days, and could have been done a few times faster. The chess party played on it adds a bit of originality, but still not enough. Although the "motion blur" idea, which comes up later, works wonderfully here, even this can't save the code from falling under average.

I can't stand to mention how unfitting is the picture of the part, which shows a lot of red squares floating around. The squares are rotating around themselves and in a changing radius around the center of the screen. Which makes this part fail is that the perspective for the squares are incorrect (precalculated in fact, but a square's perspective is not the same at every position of the screen). Maybe the part would have been much better without trying to emulate 3D. The movement patterns of the squares could have been adjusted much better to create something visually more exciting. I must add that this part bears originality, which makes me feel that something like this could look very nice, but it should be properly coded.

Taking this as a debute demo, it's really nothing special, might be labelled as promising, if the group will be better by time.

GFX REVIEW by TCH/OXYRON:

The demo starts with some very good animated eyes (Hydrogen). I really like them, looking around and blinking. It put a smile on my face when I saw this opener. Very smoothly done! Next up is a good interlaced logo (Hydrogen), which made me reload this demo a couple of times. Bloody trackmos, it's impossible to appreciate interlaced graphics when you can't pause them and they disappear after some seconds... Anyway, the font might not be that special, but I enjoy the colors. For me it is the best logo in the demo. Then there is the "screenshot" of the crew (Datura). Looks good aswell, considering it is only made with black contrasting the background. One of the charsets used here has links to the end-scroller, so who said "incoherent"? The other two are okay and I think it is a nice introduction screen. "Living", the green ninja-styled logo (Hydrogen). Always where a sucker for this kind of letters. It is executed in a good way, unfortunately there seem to be some bugs. Especially a big one in the "V" keeps drawing my attention.

The graphics in the sphere-part are minimal, but I sure like that little astronomer watching the sky (Hydrogen)! Very funny idea... OK, the lion in the borders (Arcane). Must have been quite some work, even when using "MS-Paint". It is hard to make a snout like that stick out, even harder when you only use one color. The right part of the screen looks very good, but the left somehow doesn't fit. Still, this is a nice picture, but some more mane wouldn't have hurt. The head looks a bit stretched, which is an optical illusion.

Aaarggh! The logo in the chessborder (Datura). Big disgrace for a part like this... It is like "take 1" in the development of a logo. There is a start of blurring the grey, but the rest looks totally unfinished. If it was ment to be like this, think seriously about never making another logo, please...

And here we have the "notorious" frog (Datura)! Made by the same guy of the horrible logo. This shows, there is actually quite some hope for the bloke. Having done "frog-pictures" myself - on paper, that is - I am fairly certain this is not a conversion. The poor fellow misses his fingers. I agree that the interlace is badly executed, but if Datura can learn how to do it right, he might surprise us with some very good stuff. And if you look beyond the pixel-hell, you'll see a very well-balanced picture. So, in spite of all the "outrage", I like it. By the way, interlace always seems flickery to me... ;)

Closing this review with the "bookreader" (Hydrogen). A nice picture, but maybe not wide enough for a part like this? Well, not my place to comment on that. The guy is OK, the dimensions fit and much room for details with this format is limited. I like Hydrogen's work. The char in the end-scroll can be a bit hard to read though (Hydrogen). But I've had that complaint myself... ;)

Summing it up now... The art in this demo was created by 3 graphicians. It might have been clear that they all have their own style. Whereas Datura made one of the worst "released" logos I have seen, Hydrogen's logos look good to me. What I liked a lot was that many formats were used. The overall for graphics in "Living" is average. There is room for improvements and I hope the artists will keep on painting. Time pressure is a bitch, and I sometimes had the feeling this got involved...

MUSIC REVIEW by FANTA/OXYRON:

I don't know why, but the beginning of this tune from Hydrogen reminds me a lot of the Polish music/sound style from the middle 90s. But what we get are not some fast techno lines aka Shogoon or Compod. It later on consists of somewhat boring melodies, simple basslines and double layered instruments like bass and drums, ending in a harsh sound. He even forgot to put a filter on the snare that alternates with the bassline, which is one of the worst things you can do as a C64 musician. so on the old SID you hear a "click" with every snare, the behaviour of the 6581 when turning on/off the filter or changing the filter type. The tune isn't synced to the demo and it even interrupts when changing the screen, which is not Hydrogen's fault though.

I'm sorry, but this is only average, not to say below average.

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