(This was a joint release between us and our good friends at Gaming Alexandria!)
“From Vision to Reality Immersion”
The infamous “Shark Demo” has resurfaced. This specific demo was shown at Nintendo and SGI’s Project Reality announcement booth at CES, 1994. It was shown alongside many more tech demos which include one for racing, one for flying, and one which was a city populated by Nintendo’s main characters. Being from 1994, these demos weren’t running on finalized Nintendo Ultra 64 hardware. Instead they’re running on a high-end SGI Onyx workstation.
The Onyx served as a development kit for Nintendo 64 software during 1994 to 1995 and would cost anywhere from 100,000-250,000 USD at the time. These were used as game simulator platforms up until Nintendo decided to move to the much cheaper and less powerful SGI Indy, whose specs much more closely resemble the final Nintendo 64 (the Indy was much more affordable in comparison to the Onyx, going for about 5,000 USD).
The demo itself features a Shark named Baz, which can be controlled to move anywhere within the ocean. Whilst exploring you will come across two other sharks (appropriately named Chaz and Shaz), sunken ships, schools of fish, and old forgotten ruins. The player is able to select from a wide range of options in a menu below the game screen. It’s possible to change the time of day, the amount of fog, the camera style, and much more.
Information The shark demo is running on IRIS Performer (now known as OpenGL Performer). It is a software toolkit for 3D rendering, developed by SGI. If you have ever used Linux or Windows, you may have heard of it at one point or another as versions were produced for both platforms.
The music heard in the background of the Project Reality preview video showing off the demo is “Other Worlds” by Haim Cotton.
You can see the Shark demo in action through the following link. The demo is compatible with all SGI’s graphics architectures that support hardware texture mapping (SGI IMPACT, SGI O2 and SGI VPro) and IRIX 6.5. However, you may need to fool the inst command using ‘-m GFXBOARD=MGRAS’ and ‘set rulesoverride true’. The demo will fail if you use the XFS file system on your workstation due to an error in old IRIS Performer libraries. Mount (read-write) an EFS volume to /mnt (or any other mounting point) and use ‘export PFTMPDIR=/mnt’.
The shark demo also is not the only demo present on the discs. There are many more such as Mekton and an SGI Performer Town demo.
Mekton is the most complete game featured on the disc, and probably the most impressive. It’s a simple platformer that features a robot. Interestingly, this game is actually multiplayer!
Yes, this is the infamous demo featuring the various Nintendo characters which was shown in various magazines. Except, this time around, the characters are missing. This seems to indicate that the demo was later edited by Nintendo to include the other characters.
Another interesting game of note is a game called “Certain Impact”. This game was actually created by the same team behind Pilotwings 64. The version on this disc seems to have some differences to the other versions which have already been found. Interestingly this one has it’s resolution lowered. The game content itself consists of the player flying a plane over a town. Many different camera angles can also be taken.
Special Thanks: Diagon Swarm for their help in capturing footage of the demos for us.