Nordic Scene Review 01
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Nordic Scene Review #1: First Blood
Nordic Scene Review #1: First Blood Welcome to the historical first issue of Nordic Scene Review, the fresh new mag that everyone's talking about. You may think it's a completely frplxxed up idea to start a new C-64 mag in 2005, but it had to be done, and as no one else was doing it, we had to do it. Why does it have to be done? Because the other mags aren't doing their damn job, of course. Too many demos just don't get the attention they deserve. It's not like it takes a lot of time and effort to write some demo reviews, but people are still too lazy to do it. This is where Nordic Scene Review steps in. We'll take care of reviewing the stuff you produce, no matter how crappy it is. This is supposed to be the Game Over(view) of the demo scene, which means we'll do our best to release it often and to write what we think about stuff, not what we think others want us to write. Our main priority is to review demos, but we'll of course also write about your music and graphics collections, and if we really feel like it, maybe we'll even say a few words about other mags. But it's not like we're going to set rules for ourselves, so you'll just have to wait and see what happens. In this issue you'll get fresh reviews of the demos from Floppy, Forever and Breakpoint, as well as some other stuff that's been released during the last month or so. As this is the historical first (blood) issue, a little explanation of the scientific methods we're using to analyze the demos are in order. First of all, you have to understand that our reviews are 100% objective. We have methods for completely repressing our individuality, and we use them extensively while writing these reviews. Unfortunately we can't let you in on our secret methods, but we can give you hints on some rules we've derived to make our work more efficient: - Graphics are more important than music, unless the musician is a capricorn. - Only Swedish fake demos are funny. - Effects that need more than 7 frames are automatically disqualified. - The letter 'e' must never be used in labels (yes, we have your sources). - Reviews of Metalvotze releases will only consist of speculations about their age (have they turned 14 yet?). - Ficken Im Zelt is not a fake demo. Neither is Dansa med Achmed. - Releases by people we don't like will never get positive reviews. Now that you know that we're using scientific methods, you have to agree that there's no room for different opinions. If you don't agree with us, that just proves that you're mentally ill, and should see a doctor as soon as possible. Although we have confidence in our own methods, we're influenced by the principles, theories and laws that guide other mag editors. One example is how we'll deal with criticism. Negative criticism will be ignored, while positive criticism will make us happy and proud. I guess I could go on forever about this and that, but I'll quit now and give you a chance to move on to the rest of the mag. You wouldn't want to miss it. /Puterman Credits: Text by Puterman and Twoflower Magsys by Iopop and Twoflower
The Floppy releases
The Floppy releases [Puterman:] I'm not quite sure yet, but it seems the Throckmorton device is used to transport you to a place that's pretty far from Earth, but which is still quite similar to it. While people only have one eye, they're elegantly dressed in hat and tie, like all real gentlemen. But their transmissions are hard to understand, you have to use a monitor to decipher their messages. There are lots of good reasons to dislike this demo, which any pouet scener will quickly realize; it's too short (a real demo should steal 5-10 minutes of your life and contain at least 10 different parts), there's no code (ie. rotating cubes) and there's no design (aka fades). For some reason I still like it. While some aspects of it are quite similar to some earlier Iopop+Twoflower releases, this one feels much less like a demo. In a good way. Triad have pushed the concept demo one step further towards something that some people might call "art" (and in case anyone was wondering, I'm not quite as fond of Borderline as some other people). However, when I hear that word in connection with demos, I reach for my shotgun (which I always keep handy in case someone would happen to say something that I don't like). Thumbs up for Dalezy's tune, it might be the best tune I've heard from him so far. I suppose Imminent Threat and 78-80 have to be mentioned too. It's hard to say much about the former, it's different, which is good. It has some obvious similarities with earlier Iopop stuff, and it's nice of him to release this stuff, while others might just let the bits rot away in their disk boxes. 78-80 is a bit more conventional, but it's still lightyears ahead of most of the crap that people call demos. I like the mood in this one. It seems it was more of a coincidence that these two demos were released at the same time, but I have a feeling that the final result might have been even better if they had been combined into one demo. Magervalp showed up at Floppy, although he'd promised not to come, and he even brought a small demo with him. Unfortunately I can't think of anything positive to say about it. Let's just hope that he'll make something a bit more ambitious again, like the Bunny demo. Four hours of work is not enough. The Dancing Snowman demo from Macx and Zzap69 is a weird combination of styles and graphics formats. I like the pictures in the first part, although they're simple, but the end part feels a bit too standard. So although I don't really like it, I wish there were more demos that tried to be different in different ways, like this one does (no, not all "concept demos" have to be about the miserable love life of coders (and yes, I know I've said that 666 times before, but it might be worth repeating it now and then)). "Poland": red+white 8x8 plasma, Polish hawk ripped from Opium etc. Hello? In case you guys haven't noticed, jokes about Polish demos and 8x8 are starting to feel a bit old, especially since the Poles stopped making demos 5 years or so ago. I can't think of anything positive to say about this one. Just a little reminder: jokes are supposed to be funny, m'kay? "Broken" by Nightlord (of Civitas, although no one else was involved in creating this demo) is really too good to be wasted by bugs and glitches, but it seems he wanted to release it at Floppy, and I guess there wasn't enough time to fix the bugs. This is by far the best stuff I've seen from Nightlord, although it's hard to compare it with his more code oriented demos. Conceptually it's much better than Mist, but that's a demo I'd rather forget anyway. What I like about this demo is that it's so abstract. It feels like only the most necessary parts of the narrative have been extracted and placed on the screen. A less fortunate demo designer might have ruined it all by adding scene poetry. Maybe someone could do us all a favour and hack the code to add some sprite overlays with important messages like "my love is gone, I feel so lonely tonight" just to show how easy it is to ruin a good idea. Damn, I like that idea, but I'm way too lazy to implement it myself, so I'll just write some text and you can try to imagine what the demo would be like with it added. First screen: I watch the birds, and think of you. The scrolling picture: I don't see the sun anymore. Circuits part: Not everything in life is ones and zeros. Birds over city part: Our love flew away, like a bird. Last part: You said you'd always love me, but you lied. And then just finish it off with something like "Now I'm broken :(" and everything would be perfect. [Twoflower:] Broken by Civitas The first Floppy release I will be touching here. After reading Puterman's review I can't do much but agree. It's damned easy to ruin a demo, to shift it from beeing subtle and abstract to it becoming a melodramatic travesty. Here, the thin line lies intact. Eventhough I have much to add in terms of design and slickness, I still really like lots of the details. The birds for instance; picturing them as they are done in this demo makes me smile. The closest thing to this demo which I have seen so far is MacX's 'Autumn Clouds', released quite some time ago. And in theme and feeling it resembles the widely unspread 'The Sun' from Shape, released at last LCP. Comparing this demo to Nightlord's earlier work, "Mist", this is taking seven-mile-boot steps in the right direction. 1.000.000 Lightyears from Earth from Fairlight It's quite hard to get started reviewing this one. Cannot really tell you why, but I figure that I have a hard time deciding what I feel for this demo. It's a very nice demo, although a quite expected one. It's fitted into one theme, but with two different expressions. It feels new, yet it feels like I have seen things before. Perhaps I should start to try to straighten out what I feel is the problems with this productions? To start with, I recognize the expressions of both Puterman and Hollowman in this demo, and during the compo I could pinpoint almost every single part and tell who did what. The majority of the first parts are breathing the abstract expressions which are courtesy of Puterman, with some additional graphics and effects from Hollowman. The second chapter is vice versa, but strangely enough, the demo still remains remarkably consistant. The secret is ofcourse that Hollowman and Puterman know how to make good demos by now, and this demo is no exception. The result is, as Cruzer put it, an Ikea-demo - a Swedish scene production with details being of somewhat discussable quality. But as a consumer you sure receive nicely designed standard stuff for a low price. Graphically, this is much of a mixture between 'Emanation Machine' with its sparse graphics and circular focuses, and the vectorized style which you can find in a lot of the FLT demos released lately. I kind of love Hollowman's wicked aesthetics using animated vector graphics. It's something very basic and adoring about it which touches a nerve in me. Seeing it makes me wish for another complete story being folded out in this way (like f.ex. 'Pretending To See The Light') instead of being given small bursts of nice animation (this demo and 'Wok Zombie'). You might complain that there's a lot of style-recycling done, and sure, it is, and sure - you're getting what you have been expecting. This is a nice standard FLT-demo, but mind, it's not 'Pretending To See The Light', and it's not 'Loaded' either.
The Forever demos
The Forever demos [Twoflower:] Dreams Come True from Samar Forever 6 sure seem to have been a mighty nice party, with this demo being the winner of the democompo. Instead of wasting space, I will give you some immediate, live reactions from #C-64, at lunchtime, 050321: < Oswald > holly fuck how awful. whish I havent seen it. <Twoflowr> More picture slideshows with anti-PC stuff for the scene... It feels so... fresh! <puterman> Twoflowr: definitely, every demo should have windows jokes. MOS Tribute from Padua This demo recieved the second place on Forever 6, and contrary to the winner of the compo, this release actually has some redeeming features, like the symbols and the music. The demo contains the story of MOS Technologies and how they were bought by Commodore. But in general, this is another cheapshot sloppy release complete with black background and ported text which shouldn't be spent too much words on. Want a draw? from Brutal Released outside the compo on Forever 6, I found this to be the nicest file released in the partypack, amongst TCH's UFLI-pic. In short, it's about TCH wanting to draw stuff for people. Outright 1992-styled, it gave me a little sting in my heart remembering my days of happy swapping, opening badly taped stashes of disks with not too sharp scissors. Having opened the package, you often discovered a disk containing two disksides of Brutal cracks of which only half would load, thanks to the low quality of the disk and the sloppy handling of it by a swapper from Nordmaling. This was the kind of file you would expect to find in such a sending, and even if I didn't appreciate it then, I do now. If only for nostalgic reasons.
The Breakpoint stuff
The Breakpoint stuff [Puterman:] The Breakpoint demo competition managed to surprise me negatively this year, although I didn't expect all that much. I was hoping for at least one good demo, but I guess this will teach me to lower my expectations even more... The winner was the RCC 2005 invitation, which is a nice little invitation, but definitely not what you'd expect from a demo compo winner. I guess the compo audience liked the singalong tune, which I don't understand anything of, as it's in German (my guess is that it's about having sex with your parents, which I find a bit sick, but well, everything I know about Germans I've learned from Metalvotze demos, so I'm not surprised). I kind of like the idea of the two versions of the same tune (by Jeff and Dalezy), so thumbs up for that, and the logo is also kind of cool. The second place in the compo was taken by K2's Neon, and I'm sure the K2 guys were very disappointed with the 2nd place, as it's a much more ambitious demo. My guess is that they were punished by the voters for the very low tempo of their presentation. All the parts seem to go on forever, and then they keep going, until they finally end and you're taken to the next, almost infinite, part. This isn't going to be all complaints, though. I like the variation within some of the parts. That's something that others should try to achieve as well. But please, don't copy the "we'll run every part for 15 minutes" concept. As usual when it comes to K2 productions, the aesthetics are pretty original. Or as some people (including me) would put it: it's horribly ugly. Some parts are just way beyond my understanding, but this might be due to my lack of understanding of "design" and "art". And while I'm being all negative here, please, please, please, never make another loading part which displays the text "loading" and nothing else. The music in the demo grabbed my attention, mostly because it doesn't follow the C-64 music standards. Most of the tunes seem to be some kind of drum'n'bass, or possibly "IDM" (maybe even UDM, ha-ho-heeee-heee, I'm so funny). I can't say I actually liked any of the music, but at least it wasn't another collection of lame attempts at cloning Drax' or Jeroen Tel's style. All in all, thumbs up for trying to do something original, thumbs down for the execution, the bugs and the questionable aesthetics. The 3rd place demo, by Singular, again looks pretty ugly. Well, at least the Zak McKracken graphics weren't as ugly as the pictures displayed immediately before them, but that's not actually Singular's own achievement. Those converted pictures might again be an example of "art", but to me they mostly look ugly. At least it's pretty short, so those of us who aren't too fond of Sad's music don't have to suffer more than a minute or so. However, if you're into his offbeat style, close your eyes and float away with this wild tune. Moving down to the 4th and last place, we find the truly standout horror release, Surprise Productions' C-64 debut. This one offers a quite ugly hires logo, an 8x8 plasma and a 1x1 scroller. Welcome to the C-64, boys, you'll need to do much better than this to earn a reputation in the C-64 scene, similar to the one you have (or used to have?) in the PC scene. Well, at least it has a decent tune by Dalezy. Okay, let's not be so harsh for now, after all it's their first release, so let's just hope that the next one will be better. But anyway, I find it pretty strange to decide to start a C-64 section without recruiting any skilled members first. And it's not like anyone's going to be very interested in joining a group that produces this kind of crap. Maybe they're under the impression that the C-64 scene is filled with unemployed coders. Well, in that case, welcome to reality... It's not possible that they expect people to jump into their arms because of the famous name, is it? Or maybe they're interested in recruiting this magazine staff's new favorite coder, Die Chefrocker? I really don't know what to make of all this, so I'll just leave it. To sum it up, what we got was one production that really tried to be a good demo, two small demos that weren't really trying, and one decent invitation, which really didn't belong in the demo compo at all. The fact that the latter one won just underlines the fact that this was no real demo compo. I kind of feel sorry for the K2 dudes, but it's pretty much their own fault for stealing too much time from the party audience. At the same time, it's nice to see that people don't necessarily vote for the demo with the greatest number of parts. Of course, releases like these would have been okay for a smaller party, but Breakpoint is no small party, which is obvious if you check out who took part in the 4k compo. However, it might be time to finally give up hope about the Breakpoint demo compos... The 4K's of Breakpoint [Twoflower:] In ways, the Breakpoint of 2005 was remarkable. Not for the fact that it actually was held in a place where people didn't risk freezing to death, and surely not for the demos which were released. The remarkable was the nice amount of 4k intros, an artform which so far has been mastered by Krill. Surely boosted by the fact that Krill wasn't about to compete this year, as many as 9 entries were found. After sorting out the two most retarded releases (Chefrocker and Metalvotze) and our own, 'Hiptrip', we are left with 6 more or less nice 4k's to review. Let's start with Fairlight's entry 'Stroh', which is about what you could expect from Dwangi and Maktone, with some additional graphics from Hollowman, if I have understood things correctly. The details are nothing remarkable, but I like the overall feeling, strangeskool stuff in 4k. Very much Dwangi, thank you. Not as amusing as the last one was 'Marching Squares' from Smash. Quite interesting, and I sure believe you could do nice stuff with this strangely familiar floffy effect, but it sure isn't done here. Oh, the standard LDA#$00, STA$D020, STA$D021 is used? How handy. Let's move on, and deal with Laxity's little intro instead. The intro is called "Boombastic" and is a quite ordinary intro. Yes. Nothing more needs to be added, since it gives the about the same vibes as any nice crackintro. Somewhere in this review, I have to deal with 'Inside a Bubble' from Padua. This is... mixed? Yes. The unbelievably ugly zoomscroller destroys much of what this demo could have been, since the ECI-plasma and the bobs were nice. Oh, and yes, the plasma with the donuts should have been left out too. I can't understand why people have to cram in butt-ugly stuff in an 4k, just because they can? I mean, in a 4k, parts of it IS cramming stuff in, but couldn't the rest of the mem have been used on a couple of sprites or chars to add something even more to the visually nice parts? But on the other hand, i'm just a whining graphician. Next please! Oh, here comes my favourite. Clarences nice 'LDA Stain', which sure had some depack time, but which achieves a similar effect like the one we did in The Throckmorton Device, but with two notable differences. This is made in 4K, and I paintshopped the damned animation where he calculated it. Pock. Advantage Chorus. The rest of the demo is just about as nice. You ought to take a look if you haven't, if not only to take a look at the upside-down camelbars. This didn't win though. Dekadence did. Let's face it. The Dekadence demo, 'Pico' has about everything you need in a 4K. Nice music, visually nice effects, and some of the neatest fullchargfx I have seen. It's fairly easy to understand that this won the compo. It doesn't give me the same vibe as Clarence's one, which feels more like 4K version of a Camelot-demo, but i'm sure it'll win me over in the long run. I won't go into details describing the effects. Just watch it and you'll understand what I mean. Yeah, and the little DKD logo in the intro felt unnecessary. [Puterman:] While the Breakpoint demo compo was a real disappointment again, the 4k compo made me feel quite good. There weren't any real killer releases, but at least most of the entries were meant to be serious and there was a wide selection of styles. So whatever your preferred subgenre of C-64 effects is, you'll probably find it represented among these 4k entries. Didi of Laxity made a comeback with a typical crack intro style 4k. This one emanates some serious data vibes, and although it's all been done 666 times before, this one gives me a nice, cozy data feeling. I just wish the logo had fit better into the design, but I guess weird colour combinations is an important part of this kind of productions. Metalvotze surprised me with two completely different parts: the intro scroller makes me think of computers in old movies, while the second one has an effect that looks like a distorted version of Graham's plasma from the Forever demo (2004? 2003?). Again there's a logo at the bottom of the screen that makes my stomach turn, but that doesn't really matter: they've taken a step in the right direction (however, I guess it'd be impossible to move in any other direction). Unfortunately I suspect that they'll take a few steps back again, just like they did after their last serious release, the demo Hires, released at Mekka/Symposium 2001. Die Chefrocker (?) provides the obligatory 8x8 plasma. No further comment is necessary. (If I'd been in a mean mood I'd probably said something like "please fuck off and die", but I'm not, so forget what I just said.) Iopop of Triad had to give us something different, of course. The only effect shown would have fit nicely into 78-80 or Imminent threat. I would have wanted some more, and in its loneliness this part feels a bit empty. However, it's nice to see the warez flowing from the Triad well. Dwangi strikes back with another 4k with three parts, just like in his last one, Blueberry. We've seen the bobs before, but the first part, with the parallax trees is nice. However, I'm sure this excellent idea could have been done better. It's a solid release, but not a compo winner. At least not in this company. I've been waiting for Lord Hypnos to finally release something really nice. He's been close a couple of times, but this time it feels like he hasn't really tried. It's a collection of parts with no connection at all, and none of the individual parts is very good, although I'm always happy to see another ECI plasma. The zoom scroller has to be the ugliest one ever, and the 8x8 effect felt completely unnecessary, while the bob plotter just made me yawn. Come on mr. Hypnos, I know you can do a lot better! AEG does what he's best at: recycling old parts. This time it's the metaballs part from the Driss demo (which I think won the substandard demo compo at Mekka/Symposium 2000). I think this one's faster, and it's a lot nicer to watch than some of his other efforts, but it still feels a bit cheap. The same goes for the standard disclaimer in the note: apparently the code was written in 4 hours. That kind of excuses don't impress me at all. If you only have 4 hours to spare, why bother at all? I can imagine that a release from AEG that he actually worked hard on would kick ass, but he never seems to want to finish his releases. The fact that the tune is old doesn't make me feel any better. Well, at least there weren't any obvious bugs this time... Clarence is back again to show that his comeback in the scene is for real. He's produced 4 parts that are all nice (ranging from pretty nice to really nice). I'm sure there are a lot of coders who have been planning to make a fullscreen line tunnel, and here it is in all its glory. The main part is of course the upside-down camel bars, which should make more than one competing coder scratch his head. Unfortunately there's not much flow in this demo, and while this is a good release, I'm sure a guy like Krill could have taken the same effects and turned them into a kickass release, just by connecting the dots in a better way. Dekadence have a habit of getting the second place in the Mekka/Breakpoint 4k compos, and Pico also felt pretty much like a second place release. The music by SounDemoN is the thing that stands out here. The code isn't bad, and it's sure nice to see Britelite doing other things than chunky movelist effects, and although I have a feeling that his parts (a few variations of the same basic effect) could be improved by a good coder, I don't really care. Dekadence 4ks aren't about impressive code, they're about good flow and fresh music. Unfortunately a bit of the flow from their earlier releases are missing, especially in the silent break between the first part and the rest of the demo. So I'll just say "keep working on it, boys", and hope that they'll be back next year with something cooler. Of course, next year Krill will probably be back to win the compo again. Too bad he was missing this year, because he's the king of the 4ks, and the compo isn't the same without him. There's no clear winner among these 9 demos, and although most of them were serious entries, Smash Designs, Chorus and Dekadence seem like the obvious winners. (It seems my prognosis wasn't quite correct, FLT actually beat Smash and DKD won. Oh well, I'll become a prophet in my next life instead.)
Random releases [Twoflower:] 16 Years of Silence by Science 451 One of my single most surprising releases since Camelots 'You Know the Routine' suddenly arrived, marking the return of Science 451. Return? Nah, this is more a personal comeback from H.O. who decided to make a demo for the sake of old sins. Nevertheless I get happy seeing this cozy little release. Boy, one of the bigger wished I had in mind, back in 1990 (save for joining Triad) was joining up with the mighty Science 451, whose demos 'Fullt 0s' and 'Spain II' had been some serious objects for my affection. To emphazise how much I liked them demos (which I ran from tape), I can tell you that I still can recite several of the sillier passages of the scrolltexts. Perhaps I had too great expectations when I ran it, since I got kind of surprised when the entire demo consisted of one intro and two parts and no scrolls... Suddenly I awoke from my daydreaming, becoming aware of the fact that I actually judged the demo from an 1989 perspective. But why not? From my 1989 perspective, this demo had too less scrollers, no dycps and was too short. But seen with todays eyes, this demo is great - in its own way. Just as Mahoney's demo was a couple of years ago, and the surfacing of those forgotten demos by Offence even longer back. Now I only hope that H.O. breaks his promise and does another demo - with more scrollers this time! As Far as the Eye Can See by Tinnitus Sometimes, in the shade of greater events, you often forget the small wonders which surface on our scene. This time, I have promised myself not to. I'm referring to the wonderful "As Far as the Eye Can See", from Tinnitus, released about the same time as the Floppy stuff reached us. Taking the stroll from the Vast Plains over the Rapid River, crossing the Haunted Graveyard upon my way towards the small hamlet of Razlyn, I feel serene. When I open my eyes, I find myself lost, dazed and confused in a mixture of Ghouls'n Ghosts, Guild of Thieves, Iron Lord and Might&Magic II. I feel in a way I haven't done since I lost myself in C-64 roleplayinggames in the early nineties. Given, you feel more at home at some places than others while exploring the map, and the nicest thing is that you always can head elsewhere. With heavy celtish influences and strong Iron Lord-themed graphics from Trompkins, this collection is themewise quite the opposite of our own collection, Beatnik. The graphic glitches between the gfx and the chars just adds to the feeling of a badly fixed NTSC-rpg by Origin or New World Computing. I haven't been this touched by a C-64 release since last time I tried to defeat the mad god, Tarjan. And that was one year ago. Who claimed Poland was dead scenewise? Inca -The Lost Treasure from Covenant Inbetween Floppy and Forever, this little slideshow arrived from Covenant. Coded by Richard as a poor compensation for not making a proper game out of the graphics that JSL sent him. I really dislike coders doing like this (no, you're not one of them, Henrik), trigging their graphicians to make graphics and then scrapping the whole project. Ok, so there is no hard work behind most of these pictures, JSL can do far better, but releasing a pointless, sloppy slideshow with kitchen-details under the name of Inca is a shame. I seriously hope the spirit of Atahualpa and the great winged snakegod, Quetzalcoatl, will haunt him in his dreams. [Puterman:] Fruit Salad by Panda Design Panda Design released a small demo to let the world know that there's a new group around. Of course it's nothing to rant and rave about, but it's a nice little piece in all its simplicity, and you shouldn't demand too much from a first release. I kind of like the way the screen looks, and the tune is pretty catchy (I hope I'm allowed to use such musical terms, with me not being a musician and everything). Well done guys, but we'll expect a lot
Diskmags [Puterman:] While I looked away for a second (or rather, I was off the net for a week), 3 new mags were released. Game Over(view) keeps ruling the C-64 mag scene with regular releases and bad attitude, and the latest issue is just another piece of evidence that you don't need a nice magsys to make a kickass mag. The Scene World crew also keep doing their thing. I guess there's no point going through all the things I don't like about this mag (again). Let's just say that issue 14 is more of the same, so if you've read the previous issues you know what to expect. Anyway, if you need a good laugh, check out the charts and the diskmag reviews. Issue 55 of Publication is also quite similar to the recent issues: bugs, coding articles and some reviews. I really wish they could fix the magsys, because it's still a nice idea, but I'd hoped that the idea would also be implemented in a decent way sometime. Unfortunately they keep pushing out issue after issue with the same deficiencies. The highlight of this issue was of course Nightlord's inspired report from Floppy. The other article that has to be mentioned is Richard's confused history of the demo scene. I have no idea why he wrote it at all, but the concept of writing articles about stuff you know nothing about is well beyond my comprehension. Zeitgeist should have done his duty as editor and skipped this one. And just when I thought all the text for this issue was finished, another issue of Arachnophobia (34) was released. First of all, it was nice to see a decent intro (by Cactus). Now I'm just wondering why it wasn't linked to the mag. Cactus used the 'l' word in his comment over at CSDb. Oh well... The contents consist of the usual stuff, like editorial (actually 2 of them, of which the first one also includes some pretty pointless reader reactions with replies, you know the type: "Great mag, guys, keep improving!" "Thanks for your valuable input, pal!"), party reports, charts and interviews. Unfortunately everything is, as usual, very uninspired and uninteresting. The party reports are of the usual "we took the car there, we entered the party place, we went to McDonald's with GoatBoy" etc., the interviews only contain boring standard questions (and the people interviewed aren't exactly people who do anything interesting), and so on. Or, well, there was some unintentional humour here and there, like Nafcom saying "I am totally satisfied with myself". One detail I found a bit funny was this comment in the charts chapter: "Twoflower sharing with Duce the fourth place but I haven t seen a cover from him, Is he a real cover painter?" I guess it wouldn't be too difficult to check CSDb and find out that, yes, Twoflower is "a real cover painter". I guess it's details like this one that makes the editors seem so sloppy and ignorant. There are other examples as well, like misspellings of people's names in the charts and the strange statement that Crossbow "doesn't do anything for years". Doesn't "Don't Meet Crest" count as doing something? On the positive side, there's an unusual number of tunes to listen to, if you're into that kind of stuff. They've also switched back to the old type menu, which I appreciate, especially as it shows that they actually listen to their readers.