THE UNION DEMO by Richard Karsmakers
Be ready for something staggering. Everybody will probably still
remember what happened just about precisely one year ago: The
"B.I.G. Demo" was launched by the notorious hacking group TEX.
The demo set a great many standards, most of which had still not
Some time ago I received a disk that was labelled "Union Demo",
finished on January 7th 1989. I had already seen some minor
preview screens and I had heard some additional gossip around the
things it was supposed to be doing.
The Union is the name of an international hackin' group
conspiracy that houses groups like the TNT-Crew (remember their
"F.N.I.L Demo"?), The Carebears (a group from Sweden), the Delta
Force, the Replicants, Level 16 and...The Exceptions (TEX). They
have been working on this new demo for over half a year now, but
about two years of dedicated ST programming headed this period.
No-one needs to be explained about the Exceptions and what they
have done during the last 1.5 years. Everybody must have heard of
the TEX Demos 1-4, the Super Neo Demo Show (the first demo with
graphics in the lower border), the B.I.G Demo and the Amiga demo.
The TNT-Crew has in the last year written about five or six
demos, mainly based around animation and digitized music. Their
last individual demo I have seen, the "F.N.I.L. Demo", also
contained some neat scrolling and raster tricks.
Level 16 also launched their first demo around a year ago. They
were the first to explore pseudo-graphics in all the borders.
The Carebears made a very nice demo and sent it to TEX, also
about a year ago. TEX was impressed; they had not expected that
someone else would outdo them so soon already - yet the Carebears
Now these people have joined forces, forming the Union. They
have gathered all their strength and programming knowledge, and
they made the "Union Demo". Best thing to do here is probably
to have a systematic look at all the screens included in the
The Startup screen
This screen appears a couple of seconds after you start up the
demo. It features the Union logo and some text sliding to and fro
over a vertically scrolling backdrop. There's some music
(pretty short, though) and more than 16 colours on the screen at
This screen was done by the Carebears. Program by Nick & Jas,
graphics by ES, sound by Mad Max, composed by Jeroen Tel.
The main screen (pseudo-game)
This is the menu. In it, you control 'Charly' over a smoothly
scrolling (horizontal) street where there are several doors.
Every door has a label, and behind each door you can find a
separate demo screen. The main screen features over three
quarters of the screen scrolling horizontally, Charly smoothly
walking, and a very nifty scroller that uses the left and right
border as well. There's an interesting slower-scroller-background
effect in the scroll text, and of course more than 16 colours on
the screen and some neat music. Er... I think all the screens
have music and more than 16 colours at once on the screen, so I
won't mention it any more...
Program by 6719, graphics by ES, Charly by Micky, sccroller by
TCB, no-border by TNT-Crew, sound by Mad Max, composed by Jeroen
TCB 1 - Beat Dis Demo
This demo features smooth vertical background scrolling, a large
horizontal text scrolling (including something that scrolls under
that - at a bit slower speed) and a long digitized piece of music
of excellent quality (450 Kb of sampled sound data). The latter
only works on 1 Mb machines with a double-sided disk drive; if
you don't have those, you'll simply get some neat tracking
sprites and regular soundchip music instead.
Program by Nick & Jas, graphics by ES, font by Nick's PC-Font-
Maker, sampled sound by An Cool, soundchip sound by Maed Maex,
composed by F. Gray.
The Delta Force - Mega Demo (Spherical Demo)
This excellent screen is divided into three main sections. The
top section features the "Delta Force" logo, that each time turns
around to feature the "Union" logo and vice versa. These logos
are drawn extremely well, on stone-slab backgrounds (wow -
The centre section of the screen is occupied by three bubbles
that move back and forth on the rhythm of the music (whenever one
of the three sound channels of the sound chip is used, the
corresponding ball comes towards the beholder). Of course, they
The lower part of the screen features a regular-but-not-too-
regular scrolling that understands left scrolling, right
scrolling, sinus scrolling and more like it. There is a pretty
neat color scrolling background effect to be seen in the
The music featured in this screen has to be mentioned
separately, because it is very good (brilliant, in fact): Rob
Hubbard's "Mega Apocalypse".
Program by New Mode, graphics by Slime and Questlord, the shit
bubbles by ES, sound by ZZZ Max, composed by Hobb Rubbard.
TNT Crew 3 - Vector Screen
Just to show that the Union guys master every art to be mastered
on the ST, they have also included a screen that features
"Starglider II"- like vector graphics (solid model, hidden lines,
and FAST). Yes...these "Union" guys surely know how to handle the
ST. It's no wonder to realise that most of them are now
professional game programmers...
This screen features five different 3D shapes: The Union logo,
the TNT-Crew logo, a rotating ball, a "Starglider" and the
"Carrier" from "Carrier Command".
Program by Hexadez and Jojo, sound by Nap Max.
TCB 2 - Wow! Scroller
This screen features an all-screen vertical scrolling with
digitized music, not using any of the timer chips in the ST.
Needless to say, it's awfully smooth...
As an extra, there is a horizontal character scrolling that
covers nearly all the screen, too, and that goes through the
vertical scrolling background. These characters are VERY BIG and
consist of rapid controlled changing of a palette colour. It's
difficult to read, but features many (512?) colours. A pretty
neat trick, guys!
Program by Nick & Jas, graphics by ES, sampled sound by An Cool.
TNT Crew 1 - Starballs
To be honest, I find this screen about the least exciting of the
whole demo. It features blue balls (ES' speciality) coming
towards you, with a scrolling message and a Union logo (both
transparent). By pressing keys 1...0, one can make some or MANY
balls appear on the screen. I couldn't program this, I KNOW, but
it's not up to the Union's standard.
Program by Hexogen, graphics by ES, sound by Max the Hairy,
composed by Robb the Hubbard.
The Replicants - Wobbly Sprites
A nice screen with 'happy' music, featuring thirteen small
sprites that dance, sinus and wobble across the screen. Six
raster bars that jump up and down on various speeds and VERY
smooth colour scrolling complete this screen, together with a
rather nice scrolling effect.
Program by Excalibur, graphics by Rank Xerox, sound by Big Max,
composed by Jeroen Tel.
TNT-Crew 2 - Superscroller
This screen is truly amazing. Didn't everybody always tell us
that smooth horizontal scrolling is virtually impossible,
especially when using the WHOLE screen? Well, look at this screen
and you'll end up flat on your back! FOUR horizontally scrolling
layers are offered, all scrolling on top of one another (the
others can be seen through the top ones), and every of the four
layers (the topmost being the scrolling message) can be adjusted
in speed and direction: The two middle ones can reach quite
dazzling speeds, while still remaining PERFECTLY SMOOTH! It has
to be said: This screen is simply great!
Program by Hexogen, graphics by ES, sound by Mad and Max,
composed by Jeroen Tel.
Level 16 - Full screen demo
This is my favourite screen. When I look at it, I hear Erik of
TEX still saying to me "It is impossible!", and I feel Udo's
hands narrowing my throat as I once more bring up the subject
(when TEX visited Holland, March 1988). Well, this screen
features NO BORDER; this means that there are graphics ALL over
the screen: In the left, the right, the upper and the lower
border! There are some pretty neat graphics on the screen with
many colours, colour scrolling and even a scrolling message in
the right border that goes on right up to the top of the upper
border! Where do they get the processor time?! It turned out that
this screen was about 400 Kb in size, reduced to 45 Kb thanks to
Udo's packer (the ONLY thing he did on this demo...).
The music is good (one of Mad Max' OWN compositions) but rather
Program by Ilja, graphics by Don, sound by Mad Max, composed by
TCB 3 - Super-Multi-Plane-3D-Sine-Distorted-and-whole-lotta-
To be honest, I think this screen's also my favourite. It
features a 3D "Star Ray"-like scrolling over just about all the
screen (smoother than Steve Bak's scrolling!), a distorting and
twisting "The Carebears" logo, and a scrolling message in front
of it....that scrolling message features many colours, sinusing,
hopping, and...3D sinusing, 3D whopping and whooping,
magnihooping, flooping, glolloping...just about everything you
could wish! It is extremely (even mindnumbingly) impressive - and
there's music all along the way as well! Every time I watch this
screen, I feel that there are great heaps of fluid suddenly being
unleashed in my oral cavity. And I feel like I can't do anything
on the ST at all - except for writing crammy stories. IT'S
Program and Graphix by Nick, sound by Max, the Mad, composed by
TEX - Copier
Since the demo puts about 900 Kb of crunched code (1400 Kb un-
compressed) on an 80-track double-sided disk, they had to use a
special format that cannot be copied by any of the copy programs
available. So they simply included their own copier in this
program. A beautiful one, with many rasters, neat display and, of
course, some brilliant music. Copying does take a long time
(maybe because there's also a true verify included).
Multiple copying is also supported.
Program by 6719 and Mad Max, graphix by ES, sound by Mad Max,
composed by Jeroen Tel.
The Hidden Screen
The rumours about an ST-Soundtracker are true, and the hidden
screen features the first sound ever made by Sample-Mon-ST! A
four-voice piece of digital music can be heard, while you can use
the mouse to move some shapes across the screen that 'track' one
another. It sounds great, but where's this screen in the demo?
Just get the "Union" Demo and find it out yourself...
Program by 6719, graphix by Hexagon, mice by ES, composition and
sound by Mad (Feed Me) Max.
AAAAARRRRGGGHHHH! THE ULTIMATE ARMAGEDDON!!!! OVERKILL!! DEATH!
One can imagine that, after having all these miraculous tricks
of programmer's craftsmanship poured out over you for a longer
time, one experiences the ultimate overkill possible! Actually,
it made me remind of the old "Overkill" Motørhead song and Lemmy
'singing' like a mutilated chainsaw.
Anyway: It's quite unhealthy to look at this demo for too long a
You'll wake up sweating in the middle of the night, thinking
about what a total imbecile you are when compared with these
You'll have sudden attacks of fits of spasms when you can't
tackle a simple integer variable problem while programming in
You'll get a minority complex you'll never get over; you'll get
immediate urges to migrate to somewhere FAR from where these guys
live - if possible to another universe, somewhere beyond a black
But it's nice.
At the moment, I'm being treated in a big Psychiatric Hospital
from the severe consequences the "Union" demo had on my ego; my
motoric neurons are gradually getting used to typing on the
keyboard myself again.
Name: Union Demo
Tricks and limit-breaking: 10+
Beholder's ego support: 1-
Overall rating: 10
Remark: Get it! But be sure to have a good
mental disease insurance!
The "Union" demo is Public Domain. Get it. Look at it. Be
amazed. And be sure to realise that you will not ever be able to
get something better!
Er...yeah. A review with an epilogue, since a fear has arisen
now I have truly seen and truly experienced this demo. I have
been tied to an asylum hospital bed for several days now, and I
have had many an hour to contemplate and think deeply - even
philosophise a bit.
What must now happen to the world of ST demo-writing? All the
hardware limits have been broken open to limits never before
suspected. But the top height is reached. ALL the screen is now
used, the borders are gone and can now freely be used for
graphics. Scrolling messages cannot possible be better than the
scroller? Graphics surely can't be better than the excellent
pixels that ES and Slime (TDF) put on the screen? And I already
knew that ST music can't possibly get any better than Mad Max
makes it now.
What is left to fight for? Will the ST be left alone, now all
hardware limitations have been broken and the major ST demo-group
made something that cannot be surpassed any more?
It makes me feel rather sad.
Shit (sorry for the expression). I experience a terrible itching
under my right foot, but it's rather difficult to scratch there
when tied to a hospital bed, wearing a straitjacket. Life is
The text of the articles is identical to the originals like they appeared in old ST NEWS issues. Please take into consideration that the author(s) was (were) a lot younger and less responsible back then. So bad jokes, bad English, youthful arrogance, insults, bravura, over-crediting and tastelessness should be taken with at least a grain of salt. Any contact and/or payment information, as well as deadlines/release dates of any kind should be regarded as outdated. Due to the fact that these pages are not actually contained in an Atari executable here, references to scroll texts, featured demo screens and hidden articles may also be irrelevant.