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                      Review: AGA Experience 3 CD-ROM
                             By:  Jason Compton 
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Sadeness may be expanding into game publication (watch for the Settler-like
Foundation later this year) but they haven't forgotten what put them on the
global Amiga map in the first place--the AGA Experience CD.  Volume 3 is
here, with a style to match their other recent offerings, and a load of
material useful for AGA and CyberGraphX users.

Whenever someone puts out a general interest CD, it can't help but bear
comparison to an Aminet CD--after all, Aminet CDs are cheap and plentiful
and have a wide assortment.  But each individual CD is a crapshoot, and
just because something isn't released in a 2-month period doesn't mean it's
not useful.  The role of a compilation CD like AGA Experience 3 is to get
together the best and most interesting material over a broader range of
time, to refine the content a bit more thoroughly, and present it well.

The presentation is done through a straightforward HTML interface (demo
AWeb included for the unwashed), with a style very similar (although less
severe) to the Hidden Truth CD, a small sample of which is on the AGA
Experience 3.  There's also a Women of the Web preview section--if AGA
Experiences have made Sadeness famous, WotW has made them infamous.  But
beyond that, you get a healthy assortment of games, demos, and utilities.

The curious part of the way the CD is arranged is that, unlike an Aminet CD
where all files can be accessed through the AmigaGuide interface, you can't
access all of the files through the HTML.  Demos can be interactively run
from the CD, but the Games and Utilities portions of the HTML menu are just
catalogues, and you have to dig through the actual CD to get to them.  It's
a curious difference in style, and one I find somewhat confusing.

For readers who fell behind, there's a licensed batch of Amiga Reports
(4.05 to 5.01 for those of you scoring at home) as well as the first 6
Amiga Monitor magazines.  The Monitor has been around over a year now and
seems to be doing well, my congratulations.

If the Women of the Web pictures don't keep you occupied, there is a small
assortment of pictures, some from demo conferences, others from game
preview screenshots, stored separately.  A select quality batch of mods is
also sorted, and both can be accessed from the HTML document (although I
found that the ClickMe setup program did not properly configure the
external viewer for the pictures in CyberGraphX mode.)

I wouldn't make a big deal out of it if it wasn't a headline item: One of
the people at Sadeness is a big REM fan, and an "REM Guide" is one of the
front-page categories, along with "Demos", "Utilities", etc.  As another
big (albeit disillusioned of late) REM fan, let me just say that I hardly
can agree with the assessment "guide".  Almost two thirds of REM's works
are left out, as the guide only covers REM's Warner label releases.  All I
have to say to that is that Sadeness is better best to rearrange the guide
next time they try to slip it past me.  On the other hand, if you want to
try to figure out what Michael is talking about in Monster or want to study
Losing My Religion until the sun comes up, you'll be happy.  There's also a
small collection of articles about REM, although I strongly advise against
reading any article about REM, particularly if it quotes a band member.
Celebrities and artists tend to be inconsistent and flighty people in
interviews, and REM, Stipe in particular, has taken it to an art form.
There's a negative review of REM's latest album which I pretty heartily
agree with, though.

(The above is what a lot of people might consider "irrelevant rambling in
the middle of the review."  But Sadeness made such a point of including the
REM guide...)

Overall, I'm very impressed by the care in which this compilation was done.
Most everything is ready to run so there's not the sheer bulk of material
some CDs have, not much is compressed to save space.  But what the CD does
have (including a well-stocked emulator section!  Nice work!) is worth
having, and that's the point of the AGA Experience CDs.  There's not as
much of a focus on pictures and images as there has been in the past, but
the large collection of AGA demos makes up for it.  I had some trouble
getting certain demos to run properly from the HTML document (the link was
apparently invalid), but the demos all have indicators of their system
requirements and dislikes.

Sadeness fulfilled the roles they needed AGA Experience 3 to fill rather
well.

Sadeness Software
13 Russel Terrace
Mundesley
Norfolk
NR11 8LJ England/UK

+44 1263 722169 voice/fax
http://www.sadeness.demon.co.uk
rich@sadeness.demon.co.uk