SOFTWARE REVIEW: THE SYNTAX TERROR DEMO
by Richard Karsmakers
The first demo to be finished on the ST NEWS International
Christmas Coding Convention was the "Syntax Terror Demo" by the
Delta Force. During the first two days of the Convention, I had
heard them brag about it already, and it turned out that all the
bragging was highly justified.
In this article, I will attempt to review this demo. I know I am
no programmer, so I may not be the best person to do this. But,
then again, one can't let poor Stefan handle it all, can one?
So. Let's get kicking.
It already kicks off with an interesting intro, mentioning its
release at the ST NEWS International Coding Conference which is
altogether very nice, and which will not hurt our image if you
ask me. It also mentions the things it does NOT contain, i.e. the
bog standard stuff you nowadays find in all mega demos. The Delta
Force thus clearly sets itself apart from the standard demo crew
- which indeed they should as they are very good.
The demo was put on a double sided disk, formatted with 82
tracks and 10 sectors per track.
One of the most altogether amazing things about the demo is that
it contains some musix by Mad Max that seem to be new - which,
considering the fact that he's a lazy as fuck, can be called one
of the new miracles of the world.
Well, let's have a look at the screens that are accessible
through the main menu. This main menu, by the way, is not like
most main menus nowadays (the game-like thing where you have to
spend ages walking around until you find all the demo screens).
It is, instead, a plain list that you can walk up and down in
using the cursor keys.
Originality through simplicity (and also much handier for demo
reviewers like myself, ahem).
Sum Big Shape 2
This features "The Union" in BIG tracking shapes, with a many-
color scroll behind it. The colors of the scroll change, of
course, and they hop up and down with the scroll as it hops up
The first of two games in this demo. New Mode did these games
with the aim to sell them commercially but as they were rip-offs
of arcade hall games, he didn't succeed.
"Well," he must have thought, "let's slam 'em in a PD demo
It starts off with an intro with a Soko-Ban logo made of
shrinking and expanding balls. Slick.
After that, you can determine starting level, enter your name,
see the highscore and (of course) start the game.
The principle it that you have to push blocks through a maze so
that they cover a certain amount of pre-positioned diamonds,
somewhere else in the maze. A bit like parts of "Chips
Challenge". You can only push.
Controls are with cursor keys or joystick.
The games has some nice touches, like if you don't do anything
for a long while you will see the figure you control (a kind of
pac-man) stick out his tongue...
You should try not to make too much moves and pushes to increase
your score (which is saved to disk).
Indeed a shock...
Many colours that wave and flollop like they are raving mad.
Surely looks brilliant, especially since they have selected some
good colour combinations.
The music is OK, too (nice kind of spacey sound FX in it as
A joke screen, really, truly amazing with a very big border
(i.e. the screen is very small)...
After some pre-calculating you get a very flexible scroller
(sinusing and twisting and turning) with a starfield in the
background as well as a bouncing "delta" logo. It looks better
than that I can describe here, really.
"You can't beat the feeling" they say here...
A ball scroller at the top with some nice rotate effects, and a
huge distorted Delta Force logo.
The ball principle of the scroller allows some nice effects,
like dropping backwards while scrolling, rotating around a
Amazing what you can do if you have enough balls...
The second game, and a lot better even. They used the music and
the character set from a game called "Chambers of Shaolin" by a
well know German company, and of course it also saves highscores.
It's principally a bit like the Oriental game "Shanghai", with
the difference that you can now connect any two tiles that can be
connected by a line with two or less bends in it.
This game is pretty damn addictive, mind you! That's probably
why I saw many people play it at the Convention.
According to its credits, this was developed in 1988...
It has tracking sprites and the whole screen moving smoothly in
all directions (limited amount of planes if you ask me, and the
pattern repeats itself). Then a bouncing raster, a scroll with a
slight sinus in it, and one moving logo (1 plane).
Are you a lamer or not? (THE test)
Though not very original, it's an OK screen that it quite some
fun. You get to answer several questions (different ones each
time you try) out of which you will get a score determining
whether you're a lamer or not. This score can be written to disk
then, and so everybody can read who played this test, and what
his score was.
There's some really nice questions in it.
The latest screen the DF did for the demo. Vertical rasters
moving, huge amounts of little (identical) scrollines that
wobble, two 2-plane logos that wobble, and one large 2-plane
scroll that changes color at times.
The official greetings
The reason why the DF made a separate screen of this is soon
obvious: Almost each crew that gets mentioned also gets its logo
protrayed...including ST NEWS, as a matter of fact (huge amount
of thanks, guys! The greetings were really touching).
Next come the screens of the second department: The screens that
were programmed on the Delta Force I.C.C. #1, held last year in a
town in the vicinity of Stuttgart. The competitors each got 24
hours to code it, without being allowed to use existing code
(they had to type it by heart, actually).
Twentyfour hour screen by nick from TCB
This was, predictably, the screen that won the compo (nobody was
It's one sync scrolling screen that you're looking at during
precalculation time. Between the pre-calculations you see some
additional 3D shapes moving towards you, rotating, and going
back, at 50 Hz (of course).
Interesting fact: It doesn't seem to work on my system (looks
like a medium res screen executed in low res, or vice versa).
The one-day screen by BMT/The Alliance
A kind of wobbly sinusoid dot line at the top, and the lower
half is a scrolline where the characters are made up of higher
bits of lines that pass by (have a look at the bitmap brothers
logo and you may know what I mean).
Real-time Zoomer by Gigabyte Crew
This can real-time zoom and un-zoom (and rotate). A bar scrolls
vertically up and down with credits and stuff like that. Its
programmer is making a game which does this, too, and I suppose
that's where he got the idea. Clever, though, that he did it in
The third (and last) department is one filled with guest
screens. And there are quite some good ones there, I dare say!
Guestscreen by The Lost Boys (Oxygene)
Basically a mindstaggering amount of everythigng; one
perpetually shrinking/expanding logo, a wobbling logo, one
cylinder-rotating scroller, a big scroller and a sinussing
scroller with loadsa colors (this latter one, actually has a
scroll text written by me, somewhere in August last year at
Guestscreen by NeXT (STWars)
A background with landscape raster scroller (chessboard,
though), a sinussing scroller on top of that, two
shrinking/expanding logos at the side, a circle scroller made of
dots (quite unreadable, mind you), and a Syntax Terror logo (1
plane) hopping up and down on top of that.
Oh, and there's VU metres in the lower border as well..
Guestscreen by the Behectacled Testicles (Resettables, actually)
A landscape chessboard scroller, horizontally to-and-fro
scrolling huge 'Respectables' logo, large 'The' logo above that,
a fast border scroller and some nice music (with one
manufacturing error, though - a strange bleep).
Tyrem's logos are getting a lot better...
Guestscreen by TEX
This one's dedicated to TEX fan Ahmed in Kuwait. They hoped he
would survive the Gulf Crisis...
You can use the cursor to walk up and down, which is necessary
as it is actually an all full-screen and basically three
different demo screens stacked on top of each other that you can
walk through. Basically lots of colors, some wobbling logos,
weird graphics, raster scrollers, VU metres, starfields, and a
distorting raster scroller.
All basically simple, really (ahem).
Guestscreen by Legacy (the man with the infeasibly smelly feet)
Dish scroller that rotates and circles, made of dots, then
another little scroller on the top, a starfield coming towards
you and a large logo in the lower border. The 3D dish scroller is
at times replaced by 3D line objects (including some quite
Multicoloursounddisplay by Level 16
A brilliant screen, this one, not entirely unlike Color Shock
III but just with this extra touch of ingeniousity. You can
display the sound waves (different musix as well) in colours.
There are different ways of colour generation possible,
selectable with the keyboard. It is just really coloury and
flipping brill. You don't here much from good ol' Andreas, but if
you do then it's GOOD.
Well, that's it then.
I am really sorry that all the screens have ben described in a
really short way, but I had more to do.
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.