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Games you bought (or nearly did) on the strength of a Demo or Beta (or shareware for the old)


Benny
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What with the Halo Infinite Multiplayer beta being out and I notice also upcoming the Babylon's Fall one, it got me thinking what games over the decades have made me rush out and buy them on the strength of a demo, or more recently Beta tests and free weekends.

 

In the shareware days I mostly just played the generous helpings of those levels to death, what with being poor, but I made an exception for X-Com Terror from the Deep. I definitely remember playing a demo and ended up buying the game as soon as I could afford it. So, oddly, I played it before UFO: Enemy Unknown or knowing it was a sequel.

 

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Command & Conquer also had a fabulous demo. I ended up buying Red Alert though as it came out not long after. To this day I still think I had more fun with that demo.

 

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Tomb Raider (on PC) was also an interesting one. Exploring part of the first level caves in the demo was one of the most atmospheric games I'd played at the time, so it ended up being one of the few full price games I bought, even with a PC that was just barely up to the job.

 

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Then there was Half Life: Uplink. That came out a little while after the game was out and was a completely original demo not from the game. But one session of that and I had to get Half Life.

 

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On PlayStation there was the legendary Tony Hawk Pro Skater 2 demo with the park that had a time limit to rack up a high score - that was one of those games where I loved it so much you'd assume it was an auto buy, but I never saw the point when all the "game" I wanted was in that demo.

 

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As for more recently, I tried out both open Beta tests before the release of Guilty Gear Strive, and loved it so much a purchase was inevitable.

 

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Back in the 90's I always bought magazines that had demo discs attached. Quite a lot of my purchases was based on the demos, especially on PS1 (as I mostly pirated the PC games back then). 

 

Games I remember buying because of demos: 

Vigilante 8 - For me this was a Twisted Metal killer. I don't know what it was but I just prefered this over any of the TM games. 

 

Heart of Darkness - I think the hype for this game was a bigger factor than the actual demo as it was touted as the next big thing. Hollywood style production values in a Abes Odyssey-like platformer. I remember being a bit let down by the demo but gave it the benefit of doubt only to be even more let down by the actual game. 

 

Metal Gear Solid - I was sold on the very first cut scene, it just blew me away and made my jaw drop so hard I had to go to the dentist to relocate it. No brainer and one of the best titles for the system!

 

Silent Hill - See description for Metal Gear Solid above! Konami was fantastic this gen!

 

MDK - Futuristic graphics and a sniper scope that could zoom for miles! Fantastic demo and even better game!

 

Colin McRae Rally - As rally games go, this is the 2nd most played rally game ever for me (only beaten by the sequel about 4 years later), this also blew me away!

 

Tekken 3 - I was already a fan of the Tekken series by the time this demo was released. The first blew me away when I saw it running in a store, the second game had so good graphics I thought we'd never see anything better in a fighting game on the PS1 but then this demo was released and I was sold during the first seconds of the first fight. The pinnacle of the entire series for me!

 

Rollcage - The intro video in the demo featured Fatboy Slim, as did the first track I tried. That alone made me go out and buy it. 

 

Ape Escape - I'd purchased a dual analogue stick to play Gran Turismo and Ape Escape had sat on the demo disc for months without me being able to try it because of the lack of required controller. I'd already completed Mario 64 by the time I got to try the Ape Escape demo but I was sold on it. The full game was even better than the demo made it out to be. My favourite 3D platformer on PS1. 

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San Francisco Rush 2049 (Dreamcast)

I think that the demo disc had one arcade race, and one stunt room. There was more luck than skill involved in landing the biggest spin, highest scoring stunts, but I found it great fun.

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I'm actually going to subvert expectations here and say that I bought two of the best games ever made, both of which had fairly shitty demos. Dragon's Dogma and Binary Domain both had pointless slices of action that failed to explain anything and just kinda thrust you into a random, short and seemingly pointless battle.

 

Then the actual games were what rival developers should be looking at and bursting into tears, knowing they're doing some overly guided AAA shit that'll never match up.

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Skate probably had the best demo ever. Great tutorial to show how the controls worked and then a good amount of time to play around with it in the tightest area in the game (and also outside of it via glitches). They even let you upload your clips from the demo.

 

Die Hard Trilogy had a great demo as well, a huge chunk of the DH2 airport light gun level where you can shoot the roof tiles onto people's heads and they get red misted :lol: 

 

The Wheelman also had a good one. I think it sold it to a lot of folk on here.

MGS2 obviously, although I'm not convinced it wasn't partly responsible for people's reaction to the full game.

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Easy answer to this question for me - I had no interest at all in Just Cause 2, not a scrap, didn't think it was my sort of game at all.

 

They put out a demo and I didn't instantly bond with it as it was a bit fiddly and had a learning curve to getting to grips with the grapple, weapons, traversal but it slowly revealed its sandbox charm and by the time the game out I was day 1 in and clocked well over 100h on it.

 

The 3rd and 4th installments have been bought in the hope of recapturing that magic but in reality they didn't get close. 

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Loads, back before they became a bit of an endangered species. 

 

But one of the most effective was for Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. 

 

It had the tutorial (so you knew what you were doing) then the second level, culminating in the Bladewolf boss fight. It sold the game by giving the perfect 'vertical slice' that so many shoot for and miss. 

 

 

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42 minutes ago, layten said:

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Doom is a funny one. Because while it and Quake were incredible games, I played so much of the shareware levels, going up the difficulty levels and trying to find secrets, that I never felt I had to actually spend money for the additional chapters. Plus of course, poor. Bought them in various forms digitally for nostalgia though, so that sale got filtered through to someone eventually. To this day I'm still pretty unfamiliar with the non shareware chapters of Doom, but know all of Doom II pretty inside out.

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I hoovered up demos as a kid, but it wasn't until the late 90s that I really got the chance to act on them, as until then I had no pocket money and the vast majority of games we got were £9.99 or less budget options, so generally long after the demo had come out.

 

Still, there were a few significant ones which led to [eventual] purchases:

 

One Must Fall 2097's shareware version hooked me, and I spent years trying to get my hands on the full version in the pre-me-having-internet days. I eventually got it a half-decade later, and it was totally worth it.

 

Grand Theft Auto's 15 minute demo completely won me over. I replayed and replayed that demo so many times before eventually getting the complete game. I 100% spent more time playing said demo than the final game, despite enjoying it.

 

Combat Mission: Beyond Overlord's demo was unlike any other strategy game I'd played, and was so good that I went through the arduous process of making an international order direct to the developer in the days before e.g. Paypal, while too young to have a credit card. I can't actually remember how we got it sorted in the end, but it was a right faff! Incredible game though, definitely the right choice.

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Bioshock has to be the obvious one for me. I remember playing it at about 5am and being totally blown away by the graphics, locations, concept and atmosphere. Then the full game came out and it became apparent that the beginning was basically the best section in the whole game but still, what a way to show the game off.

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2 minutes ago, Majora said:

Bioshock has to be the obvious one for me. I remember playing it at about 5am and being totally blown away by the graphics, locations, concept and atmosphere. Then the full game came out and it became apparent that the beginning was basically the best section in the whole game but still, what a way to show the game off.

 

Yep, the first 10 minutes of that game was incredible at the time.

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Going way back into childhood, my parents bought Lemmings on the strength of the Amiga Format cover disk demo. It’s the only Amiga game I remember them both really playing, as they mostly retired from gaming after the ZX Spectrum era ended. Although, it seemed an age between the demo and the full commercial release. So they barely played the actual game once it arrived, despite having replayed the demo endlessly. Is that possibly an example of a demo working too well, or counterproductively?

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I spent so much time on the demo of Knights and Merchants, that I got on a cover disk.

 

It was an incredibly generous demo - you basically got the full townbuilding tutorial, which for a city builder / RTS meant that you got a huge amount of the game.

 

Months of medieval town building later I eventually got a copy of the full game at a car boot sale, and proceeded to mainly stick to the tutorial in that too!

 

Also @Timmo LBA2 was a magical game you're right - I rinsed that demo for months too.

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2 hours ago, Nick R said:

San Francisco Rush 2049 (Dreamcast)

I think that the demo disc had one arcade race, and one stunt room. There was more luck than skill involved in landing the biggest spin, highest scoring stunts, but I found it great fun.

 

 

This is a great shout. I'd tended to avoid anything in the Rush series based on it's N64 reputation but this demo was brilliant and I got the full game not long after.

 

I was really impressed with the demos for Virtua Tennis and UFC on the Dreamcast as well, had little to no interest in sports games but both of those were great fun. Especially in 2 player

 

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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. That was not on my radar at all, but I ended up playing the demo twice then preordering the game immediately. Playing through that dungeon and then stepping out into that Azeroth looking open area. I was all over that. 

 

Escape from Butcher Bay. I absolutely had no interest in this and assumed it would be the usual shit tie in, but tried the demo and was pretty blown away. It looked sensational at the time and the demo - as far as I can remember - gave you a pretty good chunk of the game. More than enough to know it was going to be amazing. 

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ISS Pro '98

 

My only previous dalliance with ISS was a very brief play of the SNES version, so I didn't really know much about the series when this arrived on an OPSM cover disc. You got one five minute half, and that was your lot - dumped back to the menu. But crucially, the demo offered a two-player mode, and so my brother and I gave it a quick go and got completely sucked in. From that point, I had full versions of football games on my shelf like Actua Soccer 3 and World Cup '98 which weren't getting a look in because a five-minute taster of Brazil versus France was more fun than any of them.

 

It wasn't long before I got the full game and it did not disappoint one bit.

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4 hours ago, Timmo said:

For me it was the Little Big Adventure 2 demo.

 

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I played this probably hundreds of times. I just loved being in the world. Every door in the opening area led to the same place as part of the demo but it didn't stop me trying every single one in an effort to find more game.

 

We got very few games, also due to poor, but I mithered my Dad every day to get it and when he surprised me one day I remember being giddy with excitement as it installed and loaded. I'll never forget the opening. The CGI is obviously outdated but the music still really holds up.

 

 

Beautiful choice timmo,one of my favourite games,i never knew there was a demo,im guessing it was just the first island you start on?? 

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Oh, how could I forget Dead Rising? The early 360 days were great for demos, I don't think we'll ever see so many big games get meaty pre-release demos like we did back then. I must have played that demo so many times experimenting with everything. I actually really liked the full game too even though it wound up being quite a different beast to play than the demo might have led people to believe.

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Yeah, speaking of the 360 era - Crackdown and Lost Planet. I couldn't have given a shit about either of them until their demos dropped in like the same week (I think it was E3), and they both absolutely smashed it out of the park.

Recent examples because of Steam would be Loop Hero

Spoiler

and UNBEATABLE. UNBEATABLE especially - it just looked like a sensory torture chamber during this year's E3, but the White Label demo is just fucking excellent. 


EDIT: I've spoiler marked something that's not actually out yet, but the demo has enough content to be considered a full game at this point!

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1 hour ago, Theholyhogg said:

Beautiful choice timmo,one of my favourite games,i never knew there was a demo,im guessing it was just the first island you start on?? 

 

You could go anywhere on the first Island, but every door led to the same two or three challenge rooms, each taken from various points a bit later in the game.

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4 minutes ago, DeciderVT said:

Vanquish. I must've played the demo about eight times over before I bought the game itself, which I never finished.

 

Oh I forgot this demo made me buy the game. I think the demo was actually the best bit.

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