Mindcandy Volume 2 DVD Review (By Crest)
Four years after the big success of the Mindcandy DVD - PC demos - the long awaited second volume is available. This time it's all about Amiga demos. A freely downloadable preview version was already available in 2004 but we had to wait two more years for the final product. But it was really worth being patient. Dan Wright (Fusecon), Phoenix, Trixter (both Hornet) and finally Jeremy Williams (Blue7) delivered some excellent work. The selection is well done and focuses especially on the years with the biggest activity of the Amiga scene. The oldest demo is the 'Megademo' by Red Sector Inc. from the year 1989, the newest is the mindblasting demo 'Silkcut' by The Black Lotus from Breakpoint 2004. Other well known demos are 'State of the art' by Spaceballs, 'Desert Dreams' by Kefrens, 'Nexus 7' by Andromeda or 'Concrete' by Ephidrena (unfortunately the only Ephidrena demo). Of course also Ozone's stylish 'Smokebomb' is amongst the 30 demos and with 'Fate Fits Karma' by Madwizards there is also one PPC demo. The Amiga scene isn't dead nowadays but only a few groups are still active.
This time it's not needed to turn the DVD since all demos fit on one side. Besides the demos you'll find a feature about the Breakpoint 2003 demoparty with some interviews (audio commentary: personal impressions by Jeremy Williams on his first trip to a demoparty). Like on the first Mindcandy DVD there are again audio commentaries available for every demo but this time you also have the choice of subtitles so that you can enjoy the soundtracks with full volume. Subtitles are not only available in English but also in French and German. Listen to the personal opinions from the demo creators; sometimes also the tricks used are revealed. Last but not least there is a small feature about the hard process of making this DVD. I don't know if there was any space left for some hidden demo but I've already found one 'easter egg' :)
It took a long time to finish this DVD but the result is excellent. A professional looking and sounding product which must not fear a comparison with commercial DVD's. The cover art was again done by fthr/tpolm and the booklet includes all necessary info about the included demos like screenshot, party and ranking, hardware requirements and a short comment about the content. At the bottom of all pages you'll find a timeline which begins with the development of the first Amiga and ends with the latest party success for Amiga demos. The available budget was again limited but the result speaks for itself. A brilliant and sharp picture at all times and also the owners of surround hardware will enjoy the DVD since it's also coming with 5.1 remastered soundtracks. This is by the way also useful when listening with headphones since the original Amiga sound isn't really headphone friendly over a long period.
Playing the DVD
The best way to watch this DVD is with a big TV set and powerful audio but of course you'll also enjoy it on your computer. The quality is so good that it probably sometimes looks more perfect than with the real Amiga hardware. This is also the result of using 4 different machines with different setup.
After inserting the DVD in your player you'll first see the Fusecon, Hornet and Blue7 logos, then the clean and minimalistic looking menu appears. Together with the short minimal techno track by Little Bitchard the menu stands in contrast especially to the oldest demos on the DVD. Some Amiga veteran would've maybe preferred a Workbench-like menu but personally I like it. You can simply begin to play the DVD or you can select a specific demo from the nicely animated menu. At the beginning of every demo you'll see a small text box with basic information like demo name, party and ranking. Special playback features are the random and the jukebox modes. In random mode all demos will be played randomly but not repeating one of the last 12 demos. In jukebox mode you can create your own playlist with up to 12 demos. A negative point about the selected demos for this DVD is IMO the under-representation of Polish demos (only one Madwizards demo), some people would maybe prefer to see more of the modern Amiga demos.
In the audio menu you can select between the original Amiga stereo soundtrack, 5.1 remastered soundtrack and the audio commentary (Trixter did it when the groups weren't interested in recording their own comment). In the special features menu you'll find the feature about Breakpoint 2003 and the production notes.
Emulator vs real hardware
Nearly everything on the DVD was captured from the real hardware, which means an Amiga 500 and three a4000 computers with different configurations. Only in four demos - and also in these demos only for a short sequence - the emulator WinUAE was used. Without this, these demos had to be dropped, so nobody should have a reason to complain.
Mindcandy 2 is an excellent DVD for all longtime sceners but also for all people whojust want to see what's possible with so-called ancient hardware. And of course for everyone who just wants to see some damn fine computer art. The old spirit of pushing the limit of the machine is still alive on Amiga. It surely brings back nostalgic feelings for many people, especially of course past Amiga owners. Also the feature about Breakpoint 2003 brings back nice memories of a damn good party and for me this party will be never be topped even when it's nowadays held in a more comfortable environment. The DVD is available as PAL and NTSC versions.
Note: I never had any real Amiga hardware so an Amiga user might see some things in this review a bit different.