One of the things I personally missed out on as a C64 owner in the United Kingdom during the 1980s was online service Compunet – the potential phone bills alone meant I stood no chance of begging my parents for access – but I did at least have a school friend Philip Chan whose family could afford it. Before I got involved in the scene and mail trading, Philip’s modem, a compilation called The Best Of Compunet purchased from the company’s stand at a show in London and the regular section on demos in Zzap! 64 were our only connection to the nascent demo scene of the mid 1980s and, along with an eclectic mix of downloaded productions, Philip also uploaded some of my early “efforts” for others to see.
Future Shock was one of the demos on The Best Of Compunet – I didn’t have a disk drive at the time so was loading from cassette – and stood out as impressive stuff; there was Mat’s multicolour version of the moodily lit Amiga picture doing the rounds at the time in computer magazines and an original soundtrack composed by Demon, all pulled together by Psy The Hero’s code which put a scrolling message in the upper border and a couple of cycling logos in the lower. But there was a little surprise waiting for first time watchers; when Future Shock starts up the little monitor is showing a teensy version of Avril Harrison’s iconic King Tutankhamun picture but, at when certain point in the music is reached, that changes out for a cute little boing ball bouncing around the Amiga’s screen.
Despite taking a pop at the format once in one of those aforementioned uploads I adore the classic Compunet bog standard demo, just look at Koalatro or MD201604 for example and there’s over a dozen other prototypes in my work folders all trying different things with the scroller or picture. A lot of that love originates from watching Future Shock in the mid 1980s and, although there are scores of other great examples of this trope on the C64 such as XESS 1 – Rendezvous by XESS, the Commandos’ Official Warhawk or Transputer Demo – the latter which brings back a few hazy memories of watching Tomorrow’s World as a teenager – and Metal Bar 2 by Borderzone themselves which puts the scroller into the side borders, Future Shock has always stood out to me as a well designed, solidly executed whole and still does to this day.