As time flies by I am starting to think that I have covered most effects in Atari demos. Yet don’t go thinking that I will stop here, you would be so wrong and as a matter of fact let me tell you today about hidden screens !
Being English readers you can easily see what I am talking about. 🙂 Indeed this is a very old tradition rooted in the first generation of demos and more precisely in megademos featuring a menu. In these demos there used to be one or more screens that did not appear in the first place. To gain access to them you needed either to click a specific part of the background or type in a password (or do god knows what else and on that matter coders never lacked imagination). To put it in a nutshell these screens were a little bonus for the people who made the effort to look for them.
In 1991 Dark Side of The Spoon demo by Unlimited Matricks for instance it was quite easy to find the hidden screen. As you can see above, all you needed to do was open all doors (and there were a lot more than can be seen) until you found the right one. Piece of cake, yet funny ! 🙂
In 1991 Genius Demo by Oxygene there are two hidden screens : one of them can only be reached if you spend at least 20 seconds watching all screens. As for the second one, look at the following picture to see how you can reach it. 🙂
In the 80s and early 90s almost all demos featured at last one hidden screen, always challenging viewers with more insane passwords and twisted tricks to unveil it. If you are longing for further examples I suggest you give this article a try. It will prove entertaining for sure.
Sure, most of the time these hidden screens appeared to be mere fillers (an old and unreleased screen or one that was not good enough to be part of the main demo) but we were also offered very good surprises on few occasions.
Take the example of 1999 Virtual Escape demo by Equinox : here we are given a great show made of 3D objects whose awesome quality is up to the rest of that great demo ! Simply press « ESC » at launch (for « escape » of course) and here is what happens :
Other demos such as 1994 Coreflakes by Newcore were very generous, offering not less than 4 hidden screens ! What a treat ! And what about 1994 Necrosys demo by Hemoroids that featured insanely silly and funny mini games ? Not to forget that they really looked gorgeous. Check the video at the bottom of this page to see them.
Unfortunately this nice tradition has gradually vanished as megademos have been replaced by other kinds of demos. Over the last two decades almost no demo has featured even a single hidden screen… Sure we had a couple of them in two demos, one celebrating the 20 years of the Atari ST and the other for the birthday of the Atari STe (demo entitled 20 years Atari STE megademo released in 2009).
If I am not wrong the only modern example I can think of comes from 2003 Fantasia demo by Dune and Sector One with a really nice looking screen but that was so hard to reach that they eventually released it as a stand alone screen.
Well that’s if for a nice yet forgotten tradition that kept demo lovers entertained for a several years. I can tell you that some people really spent hours looking for all these hidden screens ! Even tho they are not to be seen any more these days they still remain part of the history of the Atari ST.