by Unlock/Vantage^Padua [issue 07/2002]
When I wrote the Useless Column for the last issue of PAiN, I was pretty new to that Virtual PC (VPC) thingie. You might remember that I've been trying to run some demos on the emulator and got quite good results. When thinking about articles for this issue I've came up with the idea to really test the VPC. In my CD collection, there is the great Dreams collection CD from Imphobia. Using this CD and the data on it, I started out for a big test of the VPC. If you run Windows 2000 or any other of these newer operating systems, you might be happy to watch some of the old demos again.
For all the tests, you need to know that VPC doesn't support Gravis Ultrasound cards (of course). It simply emulates a Soundblaster 2.0 and this emulation only works good on very fast PCs. My testconfiguration is a Pentium III with 700Mhz. The graphics card which is supplied by VPC is a simple S3 Trio32 PCI which doesn't have any additional hardware features (or at least nothing you can call 'hardware acceleration').
From the Dreams collection I tested almost all the demos and intros and whatever you can find on there, but I won't mention everything in this article. I didn't check if the demos still run on a todays Windows9x/ME, but surely they don't run on Windows 2000/NT/XP anymore..
X14 BY ORANGE (DEMO)
The start of this demo was promising. I was able to seen the first effect, but then when the demo switched to some different screenmode, VPC refused from continue executing. I've started the Scitech Display Doctor, but still after the first effect, the demo crashed. And, how could it be different, there was no music. Doesn't work.
WISH BY MAJIC 12 (DEMO)
After selected Soundblaster for music playback, the demos started well displaying logos and the demoname. The first effect, the dotted scroller didn't move, it looked like a still. Then, without pressing any key or anything, the demo continue with the vector part where the cube and the small pyramid moved well of the screen. The 'loader part', where you get infos on each following part was way too fast, and most of the following effects aswell. VPC does use the same CPU as the Host-System - a 700MHz CPU might just be too fast for those effects. The next good working part was the one with the small grey cubes - however it was someone too fast aswell. The textured cube turned too fast and also the flag behind the memberstatus looked weird. The demo simply has huge timing problems, and it might run well if you use a tool for slowing down your CPU in the background of the host OS. The music didn't play aswell, so you can also chose No Sound when starting this demo. No crash, but doesn't work well.
UNTITLED BY DUST (DEMO)
After starting the demo, the config menu appears. Steering it with the cursor keys is not easy, because the cursor is way too fast - most likely also due to the fast CPU, the demos are simply not made for such fast processors. No matter which settings you chose in the setup menu, there is no sound in this demo. The then starting 3D scenes look nice, but too fast aswell. When the green shaded ball appears, the demo crashes if you hadn't chose 'no sound'. And if you've chose 'no-sound', the demo crashes after the 3D DUST-logo. Not working properly.
EXPRESSION BY ABSTRACT CONCEPTS (DEMO)
Beside that there's no music (this demo supports only a GUS, you have to chose 210h for making it work) this demo works fine. A bit slow maybe, I wonder why this is. Missing sync or timing problems too maybe. All the 3d objects like the half torus and the torusknow work good. Using the Display Doctor didn't speed up the demo at all. And because it's pretty boring to watch demos without music, I've decided to reset VPC at this point. It's too slow, but works fine (without music).
COUNTDOWN BY REALTECH (DEMO)
A great demo, really. Bringing a great configuration menu, where you can chose lotsa thing this demo was a pleasure to run on VPC. The default values in the setup screen work fine. Due to the fast CPU it was even possible increase the screen resolution a lot (using Display Doctor, of course). All effect and the music work smooth and perfect. Unfortunately, the countdown is much too short... Great working demo.
STARS BY NOOON (DEMO)
Another one that is working very good and all the effects have the right speed until, after the tunnel, this demo crashes. There are some color glitches here and there and using Display Doctor doesn't fix this problem too. The music is a little bit distorted here and there, but this shouldn't happen if you use an even faster machine. The great graphics from RA would be a pleasure to watch again. Crashes after the first parts, but would work fine elseway.
FLIGHT BY KFMF (DEMO)
The demo starts very promising. The music is playing and the KFMF logo with the turning letters looks well. The following 3D object is displayed good too, but after the zoom-out of the picture, the screen stays blue for some time. Then, when the next part is reached (music wise), the crushing head is displayed again. And the motion blur part that startes afterwards is fast and looks good - disco style: let the beat control your body. The ice part has left stunning people watching the demo back then. Afterwards, the head with the guroudshading may not be missing (you know which head i mean). The part with the morphing objects works aswell, and the second music started good. Then, the flight starts: The starship heads in the direction of the earth: 3D, voxel and more mixed into one nicely done scene. Perfectly working demo, and a pleasure to watch.
RELAPSE BY VALHALLA (DEMO)
Another great working demo, unlike other VALHALLA-demos I've tested earlier. Like in FLIGHT, all effects and objects are smooth and look good. The music is also a little bit distorted, but this is surely only a performance problem. Unfortunately this one is very very short, but still nice to watch again after all those years. I especially like the endpart with those snake-like objects moving and morphing around. Perfectly working demo, no errors.
SECOND REALITY BY THE FUTURE CREW (DEMO)
This all-time favourite and very popular demo refused to run when I tried it without the Display Doctor. After installing UNIVBE it didn't work either - i noticed that you have to press a key before the setup screen appears. However, I unfortunately never managed to make this run, there's always some EMM error appearing (and yes, I've fighted with stupid config.sys files again). Maybe this one works on a real DOS (I'm using PC-DOS) or on a different EMM386.EXE configuration, I do not figure out. Send hints to me! Doesn't work..
AQUAPHOBIC BY REALTECH (DEMO)
I was happy to test another demo from Realtech because they always work on the VPC. I didn't got disappointed by this one, it ran perfectly - also in high resolution (if you try it with the Display Doctor) and this one didn't even have crackling music (Leave the music settings like they are by default. If you chose Sound Blaster, it doesn't work). It's a pleasure, and at this place a huge congrat to the guys from Realtech that they managed to have a demosystem that works on VPC. Perfectly working one. It's a pleasure.
BUGFIXED BY ACME (DEMO)
Although it doesn't play the music, VPC runs this demo fine. All the graphics and the like look fine and smooth, I somehow like this Acme-style a lot. Too bad that there's no music, this would have been great! Other demos from Acme didn't run at all, so this one was already a progress. No sound, but else a fine working production.
WINTER MELODIES BY ANARCHY (MUSICDISK)
This production starts up fine. It recognizes the SoundBlaster and all graphics in the intro to the disc get shown well. The sound works good too. But as soon as the musicdisk interface appears, the whole production crashes: Memory Allocation Error. Trying the whole thing without EMM just gives the usual 'too less memory' error. Would have been cool if this one worked, the intro looked great and got displayed nicely. Generally, VPC is not really usefull for musicdisks, if you try it on a system like I did - the sound playback just crackles here and then and you can't really enjoy listening. Intro works, the musicdisk interface crashes.
SUN BY PULSE (SLIDESHOW)
The start looks very promising. I can successfully chose the soundcard in the menu, and there is even some noice being played. Soon after this, the titlescreen shows up saying 'Pulse' on a nicely drawn picture by Lazur. But then, I can't get the slideshow to perform any more action. Loading up the Display Doctor and a mousedriver didn't help any further. Doesn't work, except the titlescreen.
HIDDEN TALENTS BY ACME (SLIDESHOW)
Finally, I was able to find one more production that runs smooth and fine on VPC. I'm not sure if this one should have sound, at least there was none when I runned the production. All the pictures are displayed fine, aswell as the menu is working perfectly. However, I didn't see the nice fade effects in their full beauty because my Host-PC is simply too slow for this. Also I was not able to find the hidden game part which seems to be in here (which is not caused by the VPC but by my own person of course). If someone remembers how to enter the hidden part and wants to try it on the VPC, just gimme a sign and tell me if the game part worked aswell. It's a pleasure, everything works, except maybe the sound - if there would be.
HOAX #3 BY EPICAL (DISKMAG)
Since this is a diskmag you're reading right now, I wanted to bring back the memories of old mags aswell: I decided to run Hoax, issue 3, and yes, everything works perfectly. I almost forgot to continue writing this article when reading the old content which is just a pleasure to do. I can only recommend watching some old diskmags on VPC - however not all of them will work (Yahoo 3 did not, f.e.). It's great to read old diskmags - especially if they work so fine in the emulator.
IMPHOBIA #12 (DISKMAG)
The traditional diskmag.. It would have been cool if this one worked. I was not able to make it run smooth. It was possible to start up the diskmag and also to read the articles and texts, but the screen was flickering all the time, faders haven't been smooth and generally the interface didn't look too good somehow. Loading up SDD didn't help, unfortunately.It's readable, but no pleasure to look at.
Generally, as a little Conclusion, let me say that VPC is pretty cool for watching old stuff, and maybe also playing old games or whatever you like to. With the Display Doctor, a lot of prods will work - unfortunately not everything. It's still better to have an old box somewhere for that stuff, VPC is just for playing around.