Essence/Reviews

From ExoticA

Contents

Cardiac Arrest (1992, ECS Intro)

Review by Glenn Lunder

Just a nicely designed intro, nothing else... There's only one main routine, a dot-cube that stretches, which isn't that much. OK.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0. -- Note: KillAGA.

Dreaming (1992, .12, ECS 1MB File)

Review by Glenn Lunder

Cool first dentro from Essence. Good effects, cool graphics.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0. -- Note: KillAGA.

Meeting Intro 93 (1993, ECS Intro)

Review by Glenn Lunder

Not terribly exciting I'm afraid. It's a scroll-selector, a scrolltext, and a whole load of glenz-objects on the background. Obviously made mostly for messages, it's not the worst of its type. Selecting Groo & Rufferto's scroll displays their 3rd-ranked picture from The Party 92.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0. -- Note: KillAGA.

D (1993, 28.12, ECS 40k Intro)

Review by Glenn Lunder

Once again Touchstone shows his flair for design. This one doesn't contain anything revolutionary, but the way it is all put together sets it out as a good intro. Nice and cute.
tested A500 /000-7 /½mb chip, ½mb fast/2.04.
A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0. -- Note: KillAGA helps.

Meeting Intro 94 (1994, ECS Intro)

Review by Glenn Lunder

Ahh, cute! I seem to remember hearing that tune before somewhere... Text-writer with moving background. Cool opening logo by Fade One.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

ROM issue #1 (1994, .08, ECS Trackloaded Diskmag)

Review by Glenn Lunder

ROM kicks off in style, with three fabulous full screen pictures from the Covert Action Team (CAT), and a suitably heavy tune to accompany a kickin' intro. The mag itself doesn't do much worse, opening with a great lego man by D-Sign.
The first picture seen in the intro is called "Ambush", already released once before, for the graphics competition at The Party 3. There, it was released under the fictious name of Artcore/Essence, since CAT had already delivered one picture for the competition S.E.X, which came 6th). "Ambush" came 40th. Lizardking's tune "Weird Personalities" was later re-used in the Razor 1911 musicdisk "Memorial Songs II' [01/95].
A kickdown to KS 1.3 was required to get the mag working on my setup. After this, the mag worked beautifully - without it, it didn't even get to the intro. The mag itself seems well coded, apart from a few obvious glitches here and there. I strongly doubt I have 717 MBytes of chip memory, Touchstone...and I _DO_ have an MMU, no matter what your mag says! The release date is an estimate, based on information contained in the mag.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 16mb fast/3.0 -- Note: See review!

ROM issue #2 (1994, .12, ECS Multifile Diskmag)

Review by Glenn Lunder

There's certainly nothing wrong with the audio-visuals of ROM 2. It opens with a stonking title picture by Fade One and legendary Uno, showing a rather offensive shark. Very nice. The tunes are all okay too, though Interphace's has the edge. VERY good, with a distinctive beat and a certain groove factor.
Content-wise, ROM has always been one of the best mags, so there's not really any reason not to download it and check it out... NOW!
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip 4mb fast/3.0 -- note: Highly unstable.

Lost Carrier BBS Intro (1994, 28.12, ECS Intro)

Review by Glenn Lunder

It opens with a raytraced logo, and from then on it's a standard intro, complete with background and text writer. Still, like most Essence prods, nice design.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

ROM issue #3 (1995, .03, ECS Multifile Diskmag, 2 disks)

Review by Glenn Lunder

The third issue of ROM was the first with a multitasking code. This meant an almost total recoding of the mag, and the first version released had several severe bugs, forcing Touchstone to release a fix soon after. Contentwise; ace. Graphically; ace. Musically: out of sp-ace ;) Though the package available on Aminet does not contain it, the original release contained an intro by Sonik Clique. Mel'o'Dee's tune was previously released at the Doom's Day Party 94 competition. That version claimed a fixed version would be out later; maybe this tune is it?
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

ROM issue #4 Intro (1995, mid.05, AGA Intro)

Review by Glenn Lunder

Another nice Essence release, this 'intro' (550k) is cute. There's funny graphics, funny code and a fun tune. What more to say? Text synchronised to the (did I mention it was fun?) music indicate some headlines, and that's it. OK for what it is. Not released with the mag in the distribution on Aminet, and therefore reviewed separately.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

ROM issue #4 (1995, mid.05, ECS Multifile Diskmag)

Review by Glenn Lunder

This issue of ROM opens with a picture of a pig's face, no less! This one came out so soon after the last one, it's most probably a world record in release speed! Not much has changed in the looks department; due to popular demand they've even used the great, colorful control panel by Fade One a second time! The opening tune by Chromag is nice, calm and sounds very professional - especially the fill-ins sound cool. It's also a very nice gesture of the ROM team to allow a virtually unknown musician from the UK, TJM, contribute with a tune. "Majestic" is also a calm tune that creates a warm and fuzzy atmosphere. BrainBug delivers one of his trademark funky guitar tunes, which is also a winner! So overall, ROM scores top marks yet again in the audio-visual department.
The contents of ROM4 are certainly up to the usual standard, and contain all the usual 'making of', news and debate articles. I particularly enjoyed the articles about TRSI's history, Artwork, and the making of Greenday. As usual, ROM is VERY Rewarding. The release date is approximate, based on things written in the mag.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 16mb fast/3.0.

The Malta Intro (1995, 09.07, ECS? 40k Intro)

Review by Glenn Lunder

A big disappointment, this, from a quality coder like Touchstone. It looks like it was put together in a real hurry, with not enough time to put the thing decently together. It's real short, with two digitized b&w pictures (both of which are totally unnecessary), and two effects; a voxel landscape (which I suspect is supposed to be Malta) and a tunnel/dungeon effect which could have been done MUCH better. I guess this was put together in honour of Mop, but I think Touchstone could have done him much better justice by not releasing it!

ROM issue #5 (1995, .08, ECS Multifile Diskmag)

Review by Glenn Lunder

This will sound like I'm repeating myself, but there's not really much to say about ROM except it's excellent as always. The articles are interesting, the music's cool (especially Postludium!) and the graphics are totally stunning! I'm constantly amazed by what Fade1 can do in so few colors... Looking at this mag, you can clearly see how he became one of the most respected painters out there!
This issue is their one year jubilee issue, by the way.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

CrazySexyCool (1995, 28.12, AGA File)

Review by Glenn Lunder

I have only one thing to say about this: WOW! This is one of the closest things yet to a perfect production! The code is top-notch, with good, advanced, good-looking effects; there are four great pictures (especially Sexy!) by Louie (now in TBL), and the music is simply groovy! Do I need to draw you a picture? DOWNLOAD!
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

ROM issue #6 (1996, early, ECS Multifile Diskmag)

Review by Glenn Lunder

The first things that strikes you with the sixth issue of ROM is the nice title picture of men's faces carved in stone by TeeVaan, and the incredible groooove of Jam & Spoon's cool tune! It's so groovy, in fact, that it kept me from getting into the mag for the first couple of minutes just because I was busy listening! I actually have one slight thing that irritates me a little; the panel graphics in this issue is actually the worst they've ever had!
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 16mb fast/3.0.

Brainbow (1996, 05.04, AGA 40k Intro)

Review by Glenn Lunder

This is a good intro, and it's not hard to see why it made it to second place. There's the usual shading/reflective mapping toruses, but what sets it apart is the design, which has always been Touchstone's strongest point. A good one. [glenn]
GLE tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

ROM issue #7 (1996, mid to late, ECS Multifile Diskmag, 2 disks)

Review by Glenn Lunder

Ahh, Radix' module is divine! Sorry, getting a bit sidetracked, as usual. I just wanted to express how thrilled I am about the second module on this diskmag. Hooray, scene musician rediscovers funk and melody, puts intricate beat down in favour of a nice tune! Amazing! This almost makes all those soulless techno beats worth it.
Ok, the mag itself. It's the same ROM, with the same quality articles. Perhaps not as much of immediate interest as with the next issue, #8, but still quite a lot to sink your teeth into. What can I do with an issue of ROM but recommend it?
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

ROM issue #8 (1996, late, ECS Multifile Diskmag, 2 disks)

Review by Glenn Lunder

An issue of ROM is always a pleasure to read, and this is certainly no exception. You can always find some interesting article here, and there's lots of relevant information for the Scenery editor to incorporate into his amazing little collection of text files... :)
Seriously, the mag is very good. The code seems very system friendly, happily multitasking with the rest of my system. As a matter of fact, I'm running it in the background right now! Now, from the good to the bad of this system: The mag doesn't release the audio channels when you turn off the music, which means you can't run another player (HiP :) in the background, playing a tune of your choice. Unnecessary, Touchstone! The graphics are nice and functional, though not outstanding. I still remember the images that came with some of the early issues of R.A.W, and I doubt if I'll remember any of the images in ROM 8 in three years.
There's three tunes to choose from, neither of which really held my interest. They're just my kind of music, but the excellent code doesn't make that a problem, so why am I complaining? The mag is laid out in such a way that it can just as easily be run from floppy as from your HD. There are two data files in addition to the main executable, which means that you place the second executable on a separate disk to run from floppy. To conclude, it's a very very good mag. It's strong points - the best articles - are the behind the scenes stuff, like Azazel talking about the music for Tint (he's right - the first tune does suck :) and the very knowledgable Sumaleth's graphics reviews. To my mind, he writes a whole lot more interesting than Facet ever did for R.A.W! But what am I keeping you for? Go download this from somewhere and leave me alone so I can read the rest of it!
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

Virgill Dreams (1996, late, AGA 4MB Multifile Musicdisk, 3 disks)

Review by Glenn Lunder

If you're into some seriously weird heavy metal tunes, with a depressing touch, then this is the music disk for you. Those poems aren't exactly cheerful are they, Virgill? This is (AFAIK) Phase's first production for his new team. I know I'm certainly looking forward to his next one :) The best thing about this musicdisk, though, is undoutedly the intro. It's nothing amazingly 'wow', but you can't do anything but bow your head to Touchstone's amazing env- and bumpmapping routines. Coolness doesn't half cover how great these look, but you get the idea :)
After the intro is finished, the selector itself actually multitasks quite happily. To be quite honest, I'm running it in the background right now, listening to the tunes while I'm typing this. This is certainly the way to do it! VD can be run from floppy if so is desired. It is called a 'christmas present' in the info text, suggesting perhaps a december release - at The Party even?
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

Makaveli (1996, 28.12, AGA File)

Review by Glenn Lunder

The impressive thing about "Makaveli" is its SPEED. Sure, we've seen objects shaded, mapped, raped and abused before, but never this fast! Geez, these objects FLY around the screen! It's rare to see such a good, advanced demo from someone you've never even heard of before - like these new Essence members. Another thing that strikes me is the palette choices. These objects are COLORFUL, and the same KIND of colors seem to go as a red thread throughout the entire demo. Not the same colors as such, just similar, which gives it a specific atmosphere. An orange atmosphere, but still... Just some of the things you get to see is a high quality fullscreen zoomrotator with stretching, a colorful tunnel, about 6 simultaneous spacecut Z-Buffer shaded objects and a couple of really cool objects that I haven't seen before, like a rabbit (thank god! If I ever see another yellow duck...) and a man-in-the-moon figure.
The music is strange, but then again it would have to be. All good demos have music which is only classifiable by the guy who made it. It's tradition among Amiga demos, and it's been with us ever since the very first trackmo, Scoopex' "Mental Hangover" [04/90]. Oh god, that was a great tune... Ehrm, getting a little sidetracked here, ain't I? Anyway, Makaveli. It's good. Download it. I'm off to find the M.H. agafix.
No information on whether this requires fastmem, perhaps 4mb?
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 4mb fast/3.0.

ROM issue #9 (1997, ECS Multifile Diskmag)

Review by Glenn Lunder

Another issue of ROM is here, this time with an intro by C-Lous. It's a quite remarkable little intro, actually, since it almost successfully combines the 'shaded object' intro with the 'art' intro! It can't really be described easily in my limited space, but it's got great, very unusual design and a fast envmapped object :) Know all you need to now? Oh, and Soul/Movement does the music - it's been QUITE SOME TIME since we heard from that Swedish musician! It's nice to know he's not abandoned us altogether...
Then there's the mag itself, of course. The opening article by Mop has always got a wise word or two, and this one's no exception. His comments about the amiga scene are spot on, and I noticed we share a lot of the same thoughts about it. One thing that strikes me is how ROM now suddenly has 4 modules instead of 3 or 2... In my view this is unnecessary, and just eats disk space, especially when all 4 modules are as alike as they are here. All four have a jazzy feel to them, with warm fuzzy instruments. If I didn't know any better I'd think they were all by the same musician! Please note that I'm not complaining about the quality here, just the quantity :) Two modules should always be enough.
Why doesn't a multitasking mag like ROM deallocate the audio channels when it's not playing anything? If you'd like to listen to some other music with HippoPlayer while reading the mag, you can't! From this issue on, ROM [had] a www presence at http://ROM.home.ml.org. The 3w:ROM site was the first of it's kind, and published new articles and scene news on the day instead of being just an online version of the dismag. The site lived on for 1 year.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 16mb fast/3.0.

Thug Life (1997, 30.03, AGA 030 Multifile)

Review by Glenn Lunder

Jamie is back to prove that "Makaveli" (12/96) wasn't a one-off thing - and succeeds in style. "Thug Life" is even better than his previous demo, with large, fast 3d scenes and good music! There can be no doubt that Jamie's 3d routines are among the fastest on the scene. This demo REQUIRES a 030 processor, but the processor-specific optimizations also show. The 3d environments are further helped by some great textures, which give most objects a dirty, brown cyberpunky feel. "Thug Life" is professional in every respect, and should be in anyones collection. Simply great.
tested A1200/030-50/2mb chip, 16mb fast/3.0.