Playing this generous PC demo of Dragon Quest Builders 2 (10 hours in and still going) is taking me back to days of playing demo discs endlessly. As a result of wanting you to buy their game, the developers often included the best level (or levels in the case of shareware), so sometimes you didn’t even need to buy the full game!!
Here are my favorites:
Thief: I’m sure many playstyles were born through this demo just by virtue of endless repetition, and that everyone came to the “ghost” playtype independently just because going through a level without touching anything was the thing you did on the third or fourth playthrough of the demo. I used to knock out every single enemy in the game and then just explore the Manor and invent my own stories.
Halo: The PC demo inexplicably came with the best multiplayer map (Blood Gulch). Everyone had already played the campaign on Xbox, so this demo was really all you needed for online Halo. People actually kept the demo installed after buying the full game because that’s where everyone was!! I seriously played this nearly every day for an entire summer. GameSpy Arcade!!!
Crysis: Nobody could afford this game because they just spent like the $300 or whatever on a new video card just to play it. So not only did you get this demo with amazing grafix, you could spend hours running around this cool tropical island, throwing stuff into the ocean and shooting trees in half or whatever. They even included an editor so you could go in and mess around with the level some more. This is the last demo I remember playing a lot, because the very next year I had good enough internet to just pirate any game I wanted. I think that’s why they stopped making demos?!