8 Video Game Tech Demos Which LIED To You

The missing Link.

Zelda SpaceWorld 2000 2001
Nintendo

Pools of saliva collected around the floors of makeshift home workstations last month, when Epic unveiled their astonishing Unreal Engine 5 tech demo, all photorealistic crags and shrubs - and apparently, all running in real-time on PlayStation 5 kit. The geometry-streaming system underpinning the demo, which allows for more triangles than Pythagoras' percussion section, is known as 'Nanite'. It quite literally sounds like the stuff of dreams.

And, without meaning to be overly cynical, it just might turn out to be. Epic are no doubt being totally honest about their groundbreaking ground-generating code, and they have every right to be proud of it. But can we really say with certainty at this stage that the PS5 will promote such visually arresting rocks? We certainly hope so. It's just that, well, when it comes to video game tech demos... let's say the Emperor's new threads often look a lot less opaque by the time he's wearing them in public.

Or, to put it less idiomatically/gibberishly, tech demos aren't to be trusted. These are consoles at their most beautified, and most unrestrained. Those hyper-realistic sharks? They usually turn out toothless.

8. PlayStation T-Rex/Manta

Zelda SpaceWorld 2000 2001
Sony

Early adopters of Sony's brave leap into the video game industry were treated to a disc full of eye-catching goodies - just ripe to show off - and hopefully convert - jealous friends with.

Packaged with the PlayStation from 1995 onwards, the prosaically named 'Demo 1' contained a dozen or so teasers for upcoming and extant software, including such hits as Destruction Derby and Wipeout, as well as trailers for Tekken and Ridge Racer. Alongside the truncated games, the disc also had a couple of curios tucked away: Dino and Manta.

The former showed an incredible detailed tyrannosaurus-rex stalking a black void, with a camera which could be swung around by via the D-pad. Manta was much less threatening, depicting a serene underwater scene featuring a multi-polygoned ray swimming amongst a school of fish, all to a peaceful soundalike of Saint-Sa├źns' Aquarium.

These weren't games, but ultra-optimised, somewhat deceptive demonstrations of the PS1's technical capabilities. The marauding dino pretty much pushed the hardware to the limit, with more than fifty polygons and high-resolution textures. In truth, the PlayStation could never really replicate such high-fidelity, hi-ferocity imagery - not without running at 2fps, anyway (although Dino Crisis' T-rex was pretty neat).

Editorial Team
Editorial Team

Benjamin was born in 1987, and is still not dead. He variously enjoys classical music, old-school adventure games (they're not dead), and walks on the beach (albeit short - asthma, you know). He's currently trying to compile a comprehensive history of video game music, yet denies accusations that he purposefully targets niche audiences. He's often wrong about these things.