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Posted on May 20th 2017 at 08:00:00 AM by (GrayGhost81)
Posted under demo, playstation

Image courtesy of gameigloo.com

Video game technology is taking us to a somewhat lamentable place, where physical demos of games are fewer and farther between than they were in the 1990's when I was growing up. Even though digital demos and game samples will probably always exist, many gamers miss the days of physical demo discs which were filled with playable demos, videos, or some other goodies related to upcoming releases. Even as I grow further away from an obsession with physical media, I can definitely look back fondly on the days of the physical demo discs of the fifth and sixth console generations. I still have many of these demo discs in my collection, and one in particular whips up so much nostalgia in me that it is one of the prized possessions I have.

The PlayStation Interactive Sampler Vol. 8 is a truly amazing piece of work. It was released in 1998 and I have held on to my original copy. It is listed on various internet sites as a kiosk demo, but copies of it are not difficult to come by, and mine was definitely packed in with the first PlayStation I ever owned. Though I have many impressive PlayStation Underground demos in my possession, Sampler Vol. 8 will be forever etched in my mind as my first experience with this amazing Sony console, to the point where even though I haven't played it in quite a while, the intense 90's techno music that plays in the menu was pumping in my head before the disc was in my machine. Does this collection of games and videos have any value beyond my intense nostalgia? Let's take a closer look.

I didn't have the greatest games in my collection when I first got my PlayStation, so it's no surprise that I spun Sampler Vol. 8 significantly more often than some of the full retail games I had at the time. Taking a look at this lineup, it's easy to see how that is possible.

Playable Demos:
Spyro the Dragon, NFL Xtreme, MediEvil, Gran Turismo, Metal Gear Solid, Test Drive 5, Legacy of Kain 2: Soul Reaver, Cool Boarders 3, Ninja, WWF Warzone

Videos and Trailers:
NFL Gameday 99, NHL FaceOff 99, Rugrats, Parasite Eve, Playstation Underground CD, Threadz

Video compilation courtesy of videogamesyo.

The list of playable demos reads like an "essential PS1 starter collection" list. At the time, of course, I had no idea I was in possession of a micro-library of some of the console's best titles. I remember being absolutely blown away by just the menu itself. Even though DVD menus existed, as dynamic as they could be in those early days, nothing could have prepared me for the amazing combination of an interactive menu with the aforementioned rocking techno music and animated video thumbnails of each title. Of course, I had no idea what Spyro the Dragon or Metal Gear Solid were at the time.

I spent countless hours messing around with every game and watching every video on this disc, but a few selections certainly will stick out in my mind forever.

I was familiar with the Cool Boarders series before I had this demo, but only because I had played a friend's copy of Cool Boarders 2. It's amazing, even looking back on it now, the upgrade in graphics between Cool Boarders 2 and Cool Boarders 3. The gameplay is also much improved. Because of this, I must have played the single track of Cool Boarders 3 available on this demo way more than ever played the full retail copy of Cool Boarders 2 I received that Christmas. Oddly enough, even when I added a full copy of Cool Boarders 3 to my collection a few years later, I never really played it. It turns out that sometimes a demo of a game is all one needs.

As for the Metal Gear Solid demo here, it was not only amazing at the time to play such a groundbreaking game for the first time, but there is the added novelty here of the voice acting being in Japanese! This demo was produced before the game was completely localized for North America, and of course this was long before the days where multiple audio language options were widely available for games. The demo includes the first two areas of the game and naturally, copious amounts of dialogue. It would be a major understatement to say this demo got me very interested in the full game.

Lastly, I distinctly remember playing the Legacy of Kain 2: Soul Reaver demo over and over, even though it was extremely short. At the time, there was something about the graphics that amazed me, and I spent an incredible time in a body of water in a cave where the demo takes place. I wasn't doing anything except marveling at the 3D models and textures. Again, when I tried playing the full game later, the sense of wonder was lost.

The video clips on this disc are pretty cool as well, my favorite being the trailer for Rugrats which is nothing more than a 3D rendered version of the opening of the television song. Though I didn't play Parasite Eve until a few years ago for the playthrough, I watched the trailer for it included on this disc over and over, marveling at the rendered graphics of New York City and especially the mutating rat.

If you're like me, you may have a pile of old demo discs for consoles like the PlayStation and original Xbox somewhere floating around your collection. I highly recommend seeking out PlayStation Interactive Sampler Vol. 8, whether you own it already or have to grab copy off the secondhand market. It is an amazing time capsule of the heyday of Sony's amazing first home console.

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Thank you for writing this. It definitely reminded me of the one I played the most during the era.


Grind Session was the one I played the most frequently and repeatedly. (At least a few hundred times and I still haven't played any Tony Hawk games to compare with this one) I also played Medievil II and watched the video for the Legend of Dragoon a lot, but never played or watched any of the others. The Legend of Dragoon looked so good back then, and is still one of my all time favorite JRPGs. I haven't played the full length games of Grind Session or Medievil II, but I do at least own them both. Ha ha
My brother played the hell out of Fuzion Frenzy's demo on Munch's Oddworld until I had my parents buy it for him for xmas.
Played the crap out of one of the Pizza Hut demos, and the Squaresoft demos. That Final Fantasy VIII demo kept me entertained for a few weeks.
Nice article.  I can think of so many PS1 and PS2 games I wouldn't have bought if not for being stuck with a demo disc for entertainment after a month of tight bills.  I think the most nostalgic for me was the PlayStation Picks "Purple" Disc.  I stocked the board game wall at a Toys R Us back in '95 and heard that run on autoplay the entire season.  And don't get me started on PC Demo Discs.  And Commodore 64 disks(!).  Bummer they are pretty much gone now.
Demo discs have such a great place in my memories and this article has really opened those flood gates. Man, I remember buying some magazines in college just to play the included demos.  Great "out of the box" article man!
The PaRappa the Rapper demo disc was a huge influencer on me. I think I played the demo for that game more than the actual title.
Thank you for the comments everyone! It's so funny how much time we spent with these disc and their tiny little morsels of games.

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