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The Dark Court Special – Floppy 2004

by the Dark Judge

Another edition of Floppy has passed, so I guess it?s time for another Dark Court as well. By now you should know the routine: I tell you what I think about a bunch of demos, and then you collectively attack me on my point of view. After all, why change a winning formula?

First something about my ratings: instead of slapping up to a 100 points on a demo I now give out ?stars?. 1 star = below average, 2 stars = average, 3 stars = good, 4 stars = excellent and 5 stars = magnificent. I?ve only seen a dozen or so c64 demos ever earning 5 stars by the way, so don?t hold your breath waiting for one to come by. And if a demo really, really, really sucks I may even leave it star-less, much like a Dutch movie.

A demo with 3 or more stars is called a GEM (Good/Excellent/Magnificent, clever huh?). To me such a demo deserves to be put on a floppy (no pun intented) and kept right next to the c64. Since I don?t have a diskbox the size of a garage,you can imagine a demo has to be quite special to fall into this category.

Now, without further ado, let?s get this show on the road, concentrating on the top 5.

„Cycle“ by Booze Design (, GEM)
Breaking back

„Cycle“ is a crispy clean piece of work, almost the opposite to last?s years „Industrial Breakdown“. The key word here is ?design?, in the standard c64 demoscene definition: colorful, with smooth transitions and lots of nice looking pictures, accompanied by a selectable multispeed-tune. Responsible for the music is new Boozer Dane, who also did some coding and most of the graphics with the rest ofcourse being done by HCL. Appearantly the two really hit it off, resulting in yet another compo winner for the group and lots of rave reviews. Some people even went so far as to call it the best demo ever, but on this I?ve got to disagree. Conceptually the demo is not strong enough: the message in itself is too ordinary, and further weakened by using recycled (..) effects such as plasmas and vectors. Maybe it would have been better to drop the pretentious lyrics and just let it be its true self: eye candy. After all, there?s nothing wrong with that from time to time.

„Wok Zombie“ by Fairlight ()
Brainless fun

While everybody and his mother was (rightfully) praising Hollowman for his role in today?s scene as an innovator, he decided to go into a different direction and become a ?better? (in the technical sense) coder. Unfortunately this meant that effects became more important than the concept, with last year?s „Loaded“ as a clear example, something I personally wasn?t too happy with. The follow-up „Emanation Machine“ was more to my liking though, so hopes were up a bit again for this year?s Floppy contribution by him and Puterman. Unfortunately my thirst for a mind-provoking production was not filled: „Wok Zombie“ is playing by the numbers, attaching the standard ingredients to a central theme. But this time the end result lacks any emotion, and what we?re left with feels empty, almost like a parody to Hollowman?s old work. Ofcourse there?s still something to be enjoyed: a couple of the lyrics are genuinely funny, and the raster effect is simply amazing. Maybe I should stop having such high expectations for the Fairlight team, and come to terms with the fact that they indeed ?crossed over? to the ?other side?. It would be too bad, but if I want to be reminded of how moving a c64 demo can be I can always load up „Pretending To See The Light“ again.

„Motivation“ by Wrath Designs ()
It?s not quite art

Wrath is another team that starting testing the boundaries of what can be done on the c64 a couple of years ago, giving us a lot of stuff that?s quite different from the norm. Their intros for Vandalism News are always quite funky too, so it was a bit surprising to see such a ?standard? demo being released by them. Basically it consists of just one effect (broadcasting shades of old Censor demos), accompanied by nice graphics very much in the vein of what they?re constantly competing with at parties. A tad dissapointing I?m afraid.

„Brief Bursts Of Happiness“ by Creators & The Dreams (, GEM)
Creepy, but in a good way

Out of all Floppy 2004 contributions this is by far my favourite. Mermaid?s animation background shines through here, with the comic-style graphics adding to the somewhat creepy vibe. The theme here, depression with just a glimmer of hope, is conveyed loud and clear, maybe even a bit too clear. I can?t shake the feeling that losing the titles would have made it more subtle and thus even stronger. Still, a quite touching demo, once again proving that you don?t always need cool effects to stand out.

„Under The Edge“ by Triad ()
As jagged as they wanna be

Not many would have been able to deal so well with the loss of a very prominent member the way Triad did. But then again, it?s much more than a group, it?s an institution, and the remaining members just kept doing what they do best. Which in their case is releasing their own type of demos on a regular basis, mostly done by the talented duo of Iopop & Twoflower. No surprise then that they also competed at Floppy, with a production whose name obviously refers to the two years old „Over The Edge“. Compared to that one it does miss a certain bite however, merely coming off as some nice graphics & effects thrown together, accompanied by a great tune by the ever-present Dane. If there?s supposed to be an edge to it, I for one unfortunately can not see it.

As for the rest: „Timewarp“ by Creators & Defiers () is an oldschool demo which wouldn?t even have been special 16 years ago, with only some of the graphics being worth the attention. 

„Antique Parts“ by Antic () may show its age (it was made 10 years ago) but is still quite nice, with the final part being the absolute highlight.

Ian & Mic already did a demo called „Bogdance“ like the one by Invada () which was much better, so load it up and forget about this one. 

The worst thing about „Time Set To None“ by Swappers With Attitude (-) is that they?ll probably release more shit like this in the future. 

Strangely enough I kinda dig „MegaKewlEx FX 2034“ by Coders With Attitude (). The shifting effect is very similar to that of the Wrath demo by the way. 

As a sign of life „Rollo“ by Oxyron & Creators & Crest () works, as a demo it?s utterly forgettable.

Written by The Dark Judge of Focus on March 7th, 2003
Previous articles by TDJ: Royal Arte – review, The Dark Court 3/2001
, The Dark Court special: Floppy 2003
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