Think back to the days when video game reviews online weren’t as big as they are today, and digital demos were strictly for PC games. We lived in a dark time where the only chance you had to test out a video game before you bought it included renting it, borrowing it from a friend, using one of the many video game kiosks strewn about almost every store that sold electronics, or demo discs. Where would my generation, or perhaps even the whole of video gaming, be without demo discs?
Demo discs became the gateway to seeing, testing and experiencing games, and came from darn near everywhere. They often came packed in with consoles, magazines, handed out as promotional items (who else remembers the Pizza Hut demo discs!?) and sometimes even came packed in with full games. Demo discs were heavily prevalent throughout the lifespan of the Playstation, Saturn, Dreamcast, PS2 and even the odd Gamecube demo disc popped up. Without them I wouldn’t have been exposed to half as many games as I was, nor would I have been able to enjoy the games I found on them and love.
Sometimes demo discs offered slightly more, like with Playstation Magazine’s save data you could download and put straight onto your memory card. Having a tough time beating that boss? Playstation Magazine had you covered, in some cases. Want to get that super rare yellow Dodge Copperhead concept in Gran Turismo? Again, Playstation Magazine had you covered!
Demo discs were the greatest thing as a kid, but alas they were just that, demos. Among the demos were also movies, which only made my adolescent mind wish it was a demo! Sometimes, even though it was merely a small portion of the game, the action lasted long enough that I could play it over and over again, and although I did want the full experience of the game I was demoing, the demo alone was plenty enough to keep me busy until I could save up enough lawn mowing money to purchase said game.
When I see demo discs I get that nostalgic feeling in the pit of my stomach. I fondly remember sitting alone in my room, playing the demo of Gran Turismo over and over again until I had mastered the one track it offered with the three cars I could choose from. Heck, I still use demo discs to find games I still may not know about! Sure we’re 17 years on from the Playstation being king of consoles, but demo discs are still play a part, at least in my life, in finding games I was never exposed to and may find enjoyable.
Today’s generations will never understand the feeling of popping in a disc and playing through a handful of game snippets and having the time of their lives. With wifi being integrated into consoles, digital demos downloaded straight to the hard drive have crushed the poor demo disc. Forever in my heart will demo discs reign supreme!