"The advice your son rejected is now being given by him to your
ST DEMO REVIEW: FROGGIES OVER THE FENCE
by Richard Karsmakers
Last year September (yes, September 1992) there was a deadline.
It was yours truly's deadline to submit the longest ever scroll
text, to be used in what was tentatively called the "Froggies"
demo, a forthcoming "Last of the Best" megademo to be released by
French group Overlanders, ST Connexion, Legacy and some of their
We're virtually exactly one year further now. I have bugged my
main lead into this wholly magnificent French fraternity of The
Last Demo Coders - my lead's name being Furyo - dozens of times
and eventually I got a package containing three disks from one
Patrick Bricout, someone more famous as Mr. Bee of OVR.
That was September 29th 1993, one year and two weeks after my
Well, let's quickly see if it's been worth the wait.
For starters the official name of this giant three-disk megademo
(I think it's more appropriate to talk of "giga-demo" in this
context) is now "Froggies over the Fence". I put some batteries
in my good old Z88, bunged in the first disk on my ST and then
started to take notes on the Z88's word processor, attempting to
keep track of the credits as well as some of the stuff that
actually happens on the screen.
The result of these notes may be found below.
The Startup Screen
The Startup Screen consists of a 3D-rotating diamond shape that
moves forward and backward, occasionally smoothly throwing on the
screen some "Speedwriter"-style text screens. These mainly
involve information like who participated with this demo (Legacy,
ST Connexion, Overlanders, MCoder, Goldfinger and Delos), the
fact that it consists of 3 double-sided disks with 10 sectors per
track and that it works on any 1 Meg ST (!) or STE.
A nice touch to the usual 3D look was the fact that the diamond
also sortof morphed, i.e. that it no consisted of straight lines
but that it was being transformed and bent and that sort of
thing. Difficult to describe precisely, but it looks nice and I
can't recall ever having seen this kind of thing before.
Programming was in this case performed by Vulcan if Legacy, with
music by Jess of Overlanders. Font and colours by Pixelkiller of
I would like to remark that this Jess character is one helluva
composer. Not only does he make extensive use of Commodore 64-
style sounds, but his compositions sound enthusiastic and are fun
to listen to. Anyway, owners of this demo will hear plenty of his
stuff yet. What with only Big Alec really being kindof active, I
think Jess is a valuable addition to the sound scene.
Once the Startup Screen has done its job, it exits itself into
the main menu. Whilst loading, a rather very well-drawn yellow
frog is located on the screen. Yes, this is final proof that the
French do have a sense of humour.
The main menu, apart from a >16 colours picture of four
distinctly different frogs (again!), a 15 Khz soundtracker piece
of music running in the background (which is the computer version
of a tune I've heard somewhere before, probably on the Jochen
Hippel CD) and a tiny scroll text at the bottom of the screen
does not add up to much. Well, we shouldn't forget that it's only
the main menu and they have wisely opted to forget all about
interactive game-like things that require a lot of user dexterity
to get to demo screens in the first place.
I really like this menu. No bells and whistles. Very functional.
Quite simple. Mouse-and cursor key interface allows you to select
one of the four frogs (Overlandus dyscomelodus, ST Macrolazeas
conexious, Overlandus giganterana and Geobatracus legaciis) to
enter one of the four different parts of the demo. It should be
added that, if you have a digi sound cartridge, the music will
probably work on that as well.
Soundtracker music by Alien, picture by Pixelkiller.
The Loading Screen
You can't have the demo admirer staring at an empty screen all
the time, can you? So that's why this demo also contains a
loading screen. It's basically a load of dots gathered to form
forms that transform from one to another. Looks OK. Decrunching
is signified by a rotating quadrangular 68xxx chip, and once
you've pressed [SPACE] the fun starts happening.
Pomp and Circumstance
This is the demo that hides behind the discomelodic frog, and it
one of the two demos (excluding the reset screen) present on the
This demo is visually least impressive, which does not, however,
go to say that it's crap. Because, frankly, it isn't at all
(crap, I mean).
This is Jess' bit, Jess being the Overlanders music composer who
makes use of a sound routine by Ben. I have unfortunately never
met these two guys before, but I'd surely like to one day. Jess
seems a very talented guy, and he once more made my belief in the
quality of soundchip music fire up. More and more people have
started using digi stuff - which isn't bad - but the least
processor-time-consuming and the most pretty way in which to do
music remains that which is often referred to as "the blip-blop
I have to say that Jess is some serious competition for Big
Alec, who already beat Jochen Hippel quite a while ago (sorry,
Jochen). What with Rob Hubbard and Martin Galway having either
disappeared to oblivion or changed to PC sound boards, it's
people like Jess and Big Alec that have to keep the spirit alive.
They're doing a great job at it.
Anyway, this particular demo screen contains a "Star Wars"
scroll like music menu from which a massive 50 pieces of music
may be selected using the cursor keys. Almost all these pieces of
music are excellent and quite long, too. Ben's sound routine is a
very capable one, also supporting speed changes and the typical
64-style modulation effect that I don't know the proper name of.
Each time you select a piece of music and press [SPACE] you
enter a "Tetris" clone game. You can listen to the music whilst
playing the game. "Tetris" is a bit easier to play here, because
the screen is about twice as wide as with the regular version.
Game control is by means of the cursor pad. [UNDO] takes you back
to the music menu, and pressing [F1] there takes you back to the
This demo part is a bit like the "BIG Demo", with the difference
that the sounds are more advanced and the compositions are
original instead of having been converted.
Frenchie the Froggy
If you have a main menu with only four options, that should tell
you something about the variety you're bound to get within the
actual demo screens. Unfortunately I hadn't added this together
so I was caught unawares when this demo burst forth over my
sensitive retinas. It's almost like a slide show of demo effects,
a relentless attack on all sensory organs except for touch and
But let's start at the beginning.
At the beginning there is a black screen with white border.
"Well," I thought, "this is probably going to be one of those
'growing' screens. Starts empty, then a scroller, add a few
rasters, then some disting logos. We've seen it all before."
After some seconds my confidence in the Overlanders was
restored. After a 3D "V" and "R" had come in the screen, it
turned out that the white border had actually been a gigantic "O"
(of the "OVR" logo) that then proceeded to rotate in the
distance. We're talking full-screen vector graphics here.
Deep within myself I am a bastard. You can judge that by what I
"No," I thought, looking heavenward, "not another 3D demo!"
My fear was enforced by the fact that, after a screen change, we
got another solid 3D shape flying towards us. OK, it was still
full-screen but, hey, 3D demos are boring. They suck. They are
only interesting for technical people, not for the people who
actually go out to see demos!
That, however, was just the first bit of this screen. It quickly
disappeared, allowing to screen to be taken over by what they
call the "Ultimate Headache Demo". Starts off with spiralling
dots and a tracking-sprites "overlanders" text, then a scroll
text that rotates around the Y-axis. This is then replaced by a
bigger and many-coloured Y-axis rotating scroller consisting of
rasters. Yes, they even do them both at the same time.
Nice, but no cigar.
Not yet, that is.
The whole thing disappears, except for the starfield screen
coming towards you. Oh, did I already tell you there was a
starfield as well? No? Well, there was was a starfield behind the
Next on the screen some balls. They wobble across the screen
like a kind of snake. There's even some humour. So far the demo
consists of nice stuff, technically very capable no doubt, but
it's not as if we haven't seen this sort of thing before.
The whole screen blanks, and then changes into the bit that I
The top half of the screen is filled by a very good Overlanders
logo. The bottom bit is used for the demo to display self-typing
texts on in a very nice font. The space in between is used to
display nice logos of the various people that have helped with
this demo. Most of those logos, so the demo proclaims, were made
at the 1991 Delta Force I.C.C. #2. The thing I really like is
that these logos transform into each other. Probably some trick,
but it looks way cool.
Next the large logo disappears and we get some pixel zooming. I
mean bitmap graphics zooming/shrinking, the kind of stuff that
can be done on Lynx and Jaguar no sweat but for which you really
have to push the ST to one or two of its limits. They even throw
in a scroll text (4 plane bitmap graphics) that zooms in and out
as it scrolls by. Looks really great. And of course that isn't
enough yet. Some moments later it also starts to distort.
At this instant I really began to feel that this was one helluva
demo. It was a shame that these effects happened so fast. You
don't really have a lot of time to admire one effect when already
the next one has taken over.
And all of this in 1 vbl, of course, i.e. at 50 screen refreshes
per second, i.e. just as smooth as an arcade game should be.
This isn't all yet. The zoom-O-shrink scroll disappears again,
to be replaced by something for which I'll probably need an
entire paragraph of description.
Picture letters made of pixels. Make those pixels a bit bigger.
Disconnect the pixels. Now you have letters made of small
quadrangles that seem bound together by invisible pieces of
elastics. Image a font almost the height of the screen. Imagine
that thing scrolling by whilst it is waving in various directions
That's what you get. It looks like you're watching an ultra-
coloury scroll under water, which is probably why they added the
(2-plane?) air bubbles that float up throughout this part of the
demo. This is really nice to look at. Original and, yes, cool.
This isn't it yet, though.
As the previous bit disappears we see that the Overlanders
really want to use that shrink/zoom effect a bit more. A picture
consisting of about 16x16 blocks is thrown onto the screen,
sortof coming from behind you, expanded, and then falling in
place at its right size. After a while of admiring the picture
(it's actually quite nice) it disappears in a similar but
different fashion, the blocks coming towards you this time. Looks
nice. It would be nice to have sortof an in-shop display demo
like this. Beats hell out of the "Degas" slide show and even TEX'
"Super Neo Whatever-it-was-called Show".
We're getting near the end as a picture falls onto the screen
from the top, black and white. On top of that we get a diagonal
"Star Wars" type scroll. Credits for the demo are mentioned
there, that sort of thing. After this text has disappeared the
picture transforms into colours. Another while...THE END comes
rotating towards us...BANG..."Frenchie the Froggie" logo and it's
back to the main menu.
Phew. I was having tremendous difficulty keeping track of
everything that happened, quickly typing all I could on the Z88.
I hope I have captured it somewhat OK.
I was about to have some more problems keeping up with things,
but that's a story for which the time has not yet arrived.
The Art Gallery
The Giantly Lazy frog gives access to the ST Connexion bit of
this demo, which takes up the second disk of the demo (although I
suspect they also have a copy of the main menu on there, as well
as on disk III).
This part of demo lacks the smack-in-the-face quality of
amazement and that sort of thing that the previous Overlanders
contribution has (and that the Legacy demo turned out to have as
well). No doubt I think it's technically highly capable, but it's
a lot more subtle than the rest.
The art gallery consists of some 4096-colour pictures, half of
them ported from the Macintosh IIci (I hope I got that right) and
half of which were done by some ST Connexion guys). Using an
interlace technique they get 24-bit colour (yes, like on the
Falcon). It was programmed by Alien, Marlon and Belzebub.
Because of the interlace technique the pictures a slightly
flickery, though not quite as much as the old Amigas and (sigh)
the Falcon. The pictures are rather excellent, even those that
were made by a guy called Goldfinger.
I almost forget - during all these pictures there's also a 15
Khz bit of digi soundtracker music which is quite good actually
but a bit too drummy for my taste. Anyway, it's 15 Khz
soundtracker music and 4096 colours. Quite a feat, I think.
This is the fourth demo, taking up disk III. This is Legacy's
contribution to the demo, and it has to be said it's one of the
climaxes of this demo.
It starts off with a "space balls" screen. After rotating and
that sort of thing is added, it disappears. It seems as if we're
getting to see a history of demo coding here, yes, next we get a
ball scroll. It rotates around every thinkable axis and it almost
unreadable. Yes, it's too late to do a ball scroll now, such as
the scroll text also proclaims.
Our appetites have been whetted. In zooms a large Legacy font.
When it disappears we get a starfield with transforming shapes
(made of dots) on top of it. No doubt there are +2000 dots on
screen but, hey, 3D screens are a bit yawn-provoking. They are
quickly replaced by line-models in 3D that transform into each
other in a rather nice way. Next we get five balls made of dots
that bounce on a diagonally scrolling landscape with Legacy logos
written on it. So far it looks nice and there's no way I shall
ever be able to code this kind of thing, but it's still mainly
stuff that isn't new or anything. This part of the screen quickly
draws to an end as a light-shaded object is put on the screen
with credits next to it. Music by Jess, graphics by Pixelkiller,
coding by DTX Sync, some further stuff by Fury.
Then did the really good thing start.
We get an actual 5½ minute movie picture set in the future,
where people have dream boxes to make them dream. We go through
one of those dreams into...
A SPACE DREAM TRIP
Yes, that did need a separate line with emptiness above and
Using clever picture optimizing, loading-while-running and
clever sequences of excellently designed 3D graphics, we get a
true movie picture set in the year 2078 AD. Half of it is set on
the planet R. Wabs. Nice name.
All of it is accompanied by digital sound effects, quite
realistic I must add, and the 3D graphics bit even includes
people talking to you, running humans, exciting chase sequences
and, most stunningly, a guy that walks towards you utterly
realistically. That really got me saying "ooowwwwoooowwww"!
I have to say that this kind of thing looked infinitely much
better than those Amiga "Shadow of the Beast" intros that have
inordinately long loading pauses and all.
This was the most original and probably technically most
challenging bit of the whole demo. It made a deep impression on
me. Finally some people have decided the time ripe to do
something original with 3D graphics. Again, DTX Synchron had done
most of the coding, pics and story by Pixelkiller, help by Fury.
This really make everything worth while.
I couldn't wait to get to this, really, if just for the fact
that it contained the 160+ Kb scroll I had submitted a year ago.
The problem is that the scroll text was conceived as a
horizontally scrolling text so there are a few things that really
don't add up to anything on the scroller it eventually turned out
to have become: A paged text scrolling vertically upward. Also,
despite the fact that the scroll text has been written using ü,
ö, ø, % and #, these characters are either replaced by something
else (% by &, # by ") or not printed at all (like the German and
Norwegian characters). Also, it's totally out of date. The scroll
text submission deadline was September 15th. Not 1993 but 1992.
So it's already one year old. That's really too bad.
One would almost forget the actual demo screen. The text scrolls
up on top of a large Atari logo around which balls rotate. I
suspect this is precalculated or even just a sequence of pictures
pre-pre-calculated. It looks nice, but should you want to
concentrate on the scroller than you can switch it off with the
Although I suspect this demo will set you back a few bob when
you get it through a PD library (after all it's three disks!) it
is certainly very much worth while getting. It is well designed
and offers some technically and aesthetically pleasing screens.
The screen is almost never empty, which is a good thing. A shame
that the music usually doesn't fade in and out between screens.
"Froggies over the Fence" is no doubt the best demo on the ST in
years. It will probably also be the last what with lots of people
switching to the Falcon, but that's not really important. One
final time the ST's capabilities are stretched to the very
limits. If you like demos or if you're a collector of them, this
is one demo that should tuck neatly in your collection together
with "Union Demo" (D), "BIG Demo" (D), "Syntax Terror" (D),
"Punish Your Machine" (D), "European Demos" (F), "Dark Side of
the Spoon" (L), "Mindbomb" (GB), "Ooh Crikey Wot A Scorcher" (GB)
and "Cuddly Demos" (S). Ten demos not to be without.
I'd like to apologize to Patrice (i.e. Furyo) for my constant
bugging. I'd like to thank WizzFROG for allowing me to partake in
this Last of the Truly Great, and Mr. Bee especially for
actually sending me the demo. You're truly great.
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.