Almathera Demo Collection 2
A CDROM for all Amiga systems containing lots of demos, soundtracker
modules, pictures, IFF 8SVX samples and freely distributable games.
Name: Almathera System Ltd.
Address: Challenge House
618 Mitcham Road
Telephone: ++44 (0)81 683 6418 (valid until end of October 1993)
FAX: ++44 (0)81 689 8927 ( -""- )
E-mail: email@example.com (Distribution)
firstname.lastname@example.org (technical inquiries)
List price in Germany is DM 59.-. I do not have information on
SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
You'll need a CDROM drive as well as a suitable host adapter and
filesystem to access the data on the disc. You can find an overview of
host adapters, filesystems and CDROM drives currently in use in the Usenet
Amiga community in the 1993 Usenet CDROM survey, which can be obtained from
the comp.sys.amiga.reviews archive site math.uh.edu.
Almathera Systems claim that this disc is compatible with the CDTV and
CD^32. I have not been able to verify this.
Since this disc is a compilation of programs from widely varying
sources, not every program will work on every Amiga system. Some programs
might require special hardware like extra memory and/or an accelerated CPU.
Most of the demos included on this disc will propably fail on "fancy"
Amiga systems (e.g. anything else but a plain A500 with 1 MB of chip
memory and a single disk drive). For best results you should boot up in
ECS/PAL mode with caches and VBR turned off. The more chip memory is left
free, the higher the chances for success are. Since most of those demos
take over the Amiga completely, it would be wise to save all work in
progress to avoid data loss.
Almathera Systems supplies a basic set of viewing and listening tools
for the animations, pictures and modules on the CDROM.
MACHINE USED FOR TESTING
My test setup includes:
o Amiga 2000, ECS chipset, Kickstart 2.04, Workbench 2.1
o Commodore A2630 68030 accelerator with 4 MB of 32-bit memory
o GVP Series II SCSI host adapter with 2 MB of memory installed
o Toshiba XM 3401 CDROM drive
o Picasso II graphics card
I have tested this disc using the ASIMware 1.1c, Xetec 1.651, Z3 CDFS
2.9 and AmiCDROM 1.2a filing systems.
On the CDTV and CD^32, you just boot off the CD, and you're ready to
go. On all other systems, you'll have to add some assigns by hand or copy
needed files over to your SYS: partition. Personally, I use the following
batchfile to set up all necessary assigns:
assign c: demo2:c sys:c
assign devs: demo2:devs add
assign libs: demo2:libs add
I'd guess most users like to show off the capabilities of their Amiga
by playing demos, animations or some soundtracker music. Even the most
hardboiled power users have one or the other Megademo stashed away out of
sight, just in case...
Acquiring a large collection of this kind of toy stuff is usually a
pain in the ass, since it involves downloading megabytes of data, which can
be rather expensive - and then you find out you wasted all the time and
effort for a complete dud.
Almathera Software realized quite early that there was a demand to get
large masses of eye and ear candy on CDROM, and consequently produced their
Demo Collection. Now, about a year later, there's the Demo Collection II -
newer, bigger, better?
The CD's packed to capacity: games, animations, graphics, clipart,
modules and even fonts. Everything is well organized in drawers, and
ready-to-use software and data is tagged with the appropriate icons.
Besides the fun stuff, there are also complete installations of WB 1.3,
2.0 and 3.0, as well as a preconfigured Parnet. (Parnet is a networking
solution for the parallel port, which makes it possible to use a CDTV as a
remote CDROM player. Having a preconfigured Parnet around enables those
people to boot their CDTV directly off the CDROM).
Demos, animations and modules can be played directly from disk.
Depending on your machine and setup, the results are more or less
satisfactory. With my A2000, I can play at least a selection of demos
directly from the CD without crashing it. The supplied Megademos are all
crunched using DMS, so they have to be unpacked to disk first. CD^32
owners will miss out here, but then most of the demos won't run on their
The second volume of the Demo Collection contains over 2000 modules,
organized by name in 26 subdirectories. Depending on your taste in music,
you'll either love or hate them, since most of the stuff included is of
typical teccno/demo quality. For me it was a quite taxing task to pick out
For music creators, there's a large (read: 6000+) selection of
ready-to-use IFF 8SVX samples of musical instruments. The quality is quite
mixed: some samples are brilliant, while others are just crap, with most
samples being about average. One gripe I have with the selection is that
there's not nearly enough special effects in there for my taste. But then
I'm not into music, but looking for a nice beep sound.
The animations are quite fair, I'd say: There's for example some nice
VistaPro flights through a canyon, which should come out just great on a
CD^32. Still, once you've seen them a few times they tend to lose their
fascination. Most animations play just fine on my machine, except those
using the supplied viewer "ashow" (see BUGS).
Another large section of the CD is devoted to digitized images in
various resolutions. Viewing them left me wondering whose holiday snaps
were used for scanning them. This is clearly the weakest part of the
collection, as far as I am concerned.
And then there's games - lots of them. However, you'll be hard pressed
to find anything new in there, it's basically all the stuff that's
available in elsewhere, too. If you don't already own a large collection of
freely distributable games, you might like this.
The cover booklet of the CDROM gives some instructions as how to access
the data on the CDROM on different Amiga systems. Besides that, the only
documentation regarding material on the CDs are those "readme" files that
were included in some of the original archives. Especially, I miss some
kind of annotated index for the modules and sound files on the Demo CD 2.
LIKES AND DISLIKES
I love to have all the fun stuff bundled on a single CDROM. Still, I'm
missing some sort of quality control on behalf of the publisher. The whole
collection looks just like it was put together the way it is to fill a
CDROM. It's definitely not a collection of the best there is.
Maybe the situation would improve if Almathera gave away free copies of
forthcoming Demo collections to the contributors, like other companies.
This would surely motivate people to contribute on one hand, and disarm the
"exploitation" debate on the other.
COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS
I can't help but compare the second volume of the Demo Collection to
it's predecessor, since they are similar in layout and purpose. I could
notice at least some improvements:
- They didn't recrunch the demos with some stupid packer. Now at least
some of them run without crashing my machine. (I couldn' run a single demo
from the Demo Collection I, since they tended to decrunch in my Workbench's
- Megademos are now archived using DMS. This means unpacking them works
a little bit more reliable than with their proprietary packer.
- Overall, the organisation is a bit nicer.
I am unable to get the supplied animation viewer "ashow" to work. It
just reads data off the CD, but never displays anything. Switching back
from an 800x600x8 color WB to the basic PAL 640x256x4 color WB doesn't
help. I have even tried booting without a startup sequence - all to no
avail. Sadly, there is no documentation supplied with the viewer, so I
don't know whom to contact in that matter. A cheap solution is to use the
supplied copy of Thomas Krehbiel's VT to view those anims.
I have sent in registration cards for other Almathera CDROMs I own, but
as of today, I haven't received any kind of update information or even a
catalogue of available titles.
Almathera Systems offer no special warranty.
All in all, I have mixed feelings about the second volume of the Demo
Collection. The basic idea behind it is surely brilliant, but not too
convincing in implementation. Maybe I just hoped for just too much when I
started to review this disc, maybe I'm just spoiled. I would rate the Demo
Collection II 3 out of 5 shiny CD's.
Copyright 1993 Thomas Bätzler. All rights reserved.
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