P for… Parallaxes

Parallaxes are both very old and very technical (or so they look to me even tho I am not a coder at all) since this effect shows several « layers » of a landscape that scroll at different speeds. To help you see what it means let’s fancy this : you are sitting in a train carriage having a look at the landscape out of the window. Things that are close to you go by very fast while things set in the background seem to move at a slower pace. If it seems clearer then you are ready to embrace parallaxes. 🙂

Thiz effect belongs to the « oldschool » category as it appeared in the late 80s as can be seen in the milestone 1989 Union Demo and more peculiarly in the screen entitled « Super-Multiplane-3D-Sine-Distorted-And-Whole-Lotta-Things-More-Scroller » !

Both the upper and lower part of that screen are made of parallaxes scrolling at different speeds.

I won’t lie here : I don’t think this looks any beautiful… The following example won’t tell me wrong either. Taken from 1990 Syntax Terror demo by Delta Force it sure is very technical as demos of that time used to be but it also looks pretty raw.

If my eyes don’t lie, I managed to count up to 8 different levels in this Atari logo landscape. !

I could give you dozens of such examples of parallaxes featured in screens overcrowded with loads of moving elements as can be seen in 1991 Dark Side of the Spoon demo, among many others.  🙂

Yet I cannot but write about another classic demo, namely 1992 Phaleon Gigademo (a huge demo resulting from the collaboration between a dozen of democrews) in which we are offered a gorgeous screen with parallaxes, also displayed in overscan. Indeed this menu that allows you to control a character is a port from the game Shadow of the Beast yet this version is way better than the shameful game sold at that time on Atari ST. Anyway, all you need to know is that it looks awesome and that you will be offered a video at the bottom of this page ! 🙂

We are also offered a stylish example in 1992 O-demo by Oxygene . This is actually a guest-screen brought to us by MJJ Prod. Parallaxes that really look great !

Why should it be difficult to get something that is technical and beautiful as well ? This screen shows both can be achieved. 🙂

However I have to confess that it may not be so easy to inject this effect into a demo. Parallaxes are met everyday in video games to add depth and can now easily be managed by modern computers. They are very efficient but need good ideas to be enjoyed…

Back to our topic with another funny example this time found in the short 2004 Huno demo by MJJ Prod, a small production coded within 24 hours if I am not wrong.

A nice and funny way to show parallaxes !

My last example comes from 2008 Again demo by Paradox, a production I mentioned in one of my coups de coeur. It actually starts with a nice looking screen showing upper and lower parallaxes as you can see below :

Well, that’s it. I cannot think of more to say about this effect. Seen everywhere or so in video games, it is seldom used in nowadays demos. A bit of a shame as with some cool ideas it could still be very enjoyable.

Time to end with some videos starting with the Syntax Terror demo :

Followed by the great menu of the Phaleon Gigademo :

And we conclude with our latest example seen in the Again demo :


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