It’s easy to see why demo discs evoke a sense of nostalgia. As a child, the lack of disposable income meant getting new games was rare. Demo discs were appealing because they were cheap and often included demos for different types of games. The beloved Pizza Hut demo discs are where many players first discovered games like Metal Gear Solid and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. My favorite thing about a demo disc is the possibility of finding content for a game that differs from the retail version. For example, Winter Jampack ‘99 contains a demo of Toy Story 2: Buzz Lightyear to the Rescue that has a multitude of differences from the retail version. Recently, I played a demo for Moon: Remix RPG Adventure that was released in the same year as the game. The demo was memorable because of how strange it was.
Moon: Remix RPG Adventure is an adventure game created by Love-de-Lic for the PlayStation. Released in 1997, the game is an “anti-RPG” because it spoofs the tropes of JRPGs such as Dragon Quest. The game is about the player trying to clean up the mess they made after playing Fake Moon, an in-game Dragon Quest clone where the player’s only concern is looting, killing, and leveling up. The player has to restore the world he ruined by gaining love through good deeds. In order to do this, he has to catch the souls of slain animals and help the denizens of Love-De-Gard.
This demo for Moon is from the 8th issue of Hyper PlayStation Re-mix (unfortunately, the ISO for the demo is unavailable). The setting is a haunted house, but the player visits this location late in the retail version of the game. One of the most noticeable things in this demo is the omission of important gameplay features. The clock that shows your action limit and the day of the week is absent. The inventory screen and the ability to access it is gone. A small gray sprite that can only be seen inside the bathroom of the haunted house is stuck in the top left of the screen. Another noticeable thing in the demo is the lack of music. The track that accompanies the haunted house is replaced with a short track that loops.
Unlike the final version of the game, the slain animals and the souls scattered throughout the house are missing. I found the demo easy to finish because the it omits nearly all of the puzzles in the retail version of the game. The only puzzle in the demo involves herding a group of blobs into a clock. After completing this puzzle, you enter a large X-Ray screen and encounter a ghost. In the retail version of the game, the ghost appears as a child, a teenager, and an adult. Each form of this ghost asks you to retrieve a specific item. The ghost in the demo only appears as an adult and you automatically give him the required item. Leaving the haunted house triggers a cutscene where a comic book artist named Pappas waves goodbye.
One of the reasons why I think this demo is strange is because it doesn’t really showcase what Moon is about. Love is the most important theme in the game, but it isn’t in the demo. This is due to the omission of the soul-catching mechanic and the lack of challenges that reward the player with love. Another thing that makes the demo strange is the odd choice for its title screen. The screen depicts the protagonist facing a computer inside a hideout called the Eco Club. This location is an odd choice for a title screen because it doesn’t display the game’s features or themes. The retail version of the game depicts a television and a game console in front of a black background. This is how the game introduces Fake Moon to the player. The demo’s title screen also allows you to move a clone of the protagonist without its walking animations. I guess this was left in because the demo might’ve been hastily put together. Moon was released two months after the 8th issue of Hyper PlayStation Re-mix was published. Maybe Love-de-Lic didn’t have a proper demo for the game and assembled one in a short amount of time. Whatever the case, this was the strangest demo for Moon that I’ve played.