In a way it feels like restoring an old piece of art. There were some videos on YouTube already, but they were either captured with Dosbox, which has visual glitches, or on real hardware, but without a Sound Blaster, resulting in relatively poor sound quality. None of them truly did justice to the demo.
Crystal Dream might not be the most well-known demo, but I think it is historically significant. This demo was released before classic PC demos like Future Crew’s Second Reality and Triton’s own sequel, Crystal Dream II. Those demos may have put the PC on the map permanently as a demo platform, but this demo certainly showed the shape of things to come.
Unlike those demos, this one does not require a high-end 386 or 486. It will run fine on a fast 286. It is one of very few PC demos that does not require a 32-bit system. What’s more, it’s one of the first PC demos that can compete with Amiga demos in terms of visuals and sound. It has very smooth 3d, even on a low-end 286 or 386SX, and it has a mod replaying routine that works quite well (Triton also developed FastTracker and FastTracker II, still some of the best tracking programs ever made), with some great music. There have been a few demos with tracker music before, but they generally did not sound that good. Poor mixing quality and badly implemented effects.
This was one of the first, if not THE first mature PC production. And it gave us a glimpse of things to come, both from Triton (FastTracker and Crystal Dream II), and from the PC scene in general.
While I’m at it, I think The Space Pigs might be the unsung heroes of the early PC demo scene. They were among the first to release a demo on PC at all. And The Space Pigs also pioneered various demo effects on PC. They also developed their own tracker and replaying routine, and they managed to implement effects like smooth scrolling and raster bars, even on EGA hardware. The Space Pigs are also credited in the end scroller of Crystal Dream. They have apparently helped Triton with the fast EGA 3D polygon routine.
All in all, early groups like The Space Pigs and Triton showed that PC was not as bad as many sceners thought. With clever hardware trickery, a PC could do a proper demo as well. And pushing the hardware to the limits, making it do things that were thought to be impossible, that is what the demoscene is all about.
Fixing this demo, capturing a video of it and putting it on YouTube is just my way to pay homage to these early PC pioneers, and hopefully to share their work with new generations.
If you have any other demos you would like captured and/or fixed, let me know.