Back before digital distribution existed, developers would need to print their demos on a disc in order for the masses to try them at conventions - these discs were called trade demos. If you're a collector, you could end up searching the depths of the internet for several years until you find the one you wish to own.
Silent Hill Community user BrYaN55 found a copy of the rare U.S. trade demo (SLUS - 80707) for Silent Hill in an eBay listing in January, 2014, which unfortunately slipped through his fingers and sold for a whopping $257.98. He didn't find another copy of it until just recently, when he stumbled upon the game being sold in a demo lot for only $75!
"While everyone was complaining that it was too much for OPM demos, since I'm interested in demos and beta stuff, I took the time to check the picture carefully. I spotted a Trade Demo in the lot, and with closer inspection (I had to zoom the picture), I saw that it was Silent Hill! I couldn't believe my eyes! I was SUPER nervous, paid rapidly, and crossed my fingers the guy wouldn't change his mind. He took a few days to ship, but one day, the demo came in."
Bryan played the demo side-by-side with the final version and kept track of all the differences he noticed, including screenshots from both versions. Although most changes are minor, it's still really interesting to see what changed on the cutting room floor!
The Old Silent Hill Map
The final version's lettering is much darker. While I'm thankful, as I found the map hard to read anyway, it always did look out of place. The trade demo's lettering looks faded, which certainly matches the rest of theme. In the end, the change we see in the final version was probably for the best.
It's also worth noting that the trade demo is missing a few markers, such as the BRIDGE CONTROL ROOM on the bottom right. I find this particularly interesting, because we need to get in that building later on in the game. It makes me wonder if that detour wasn't originally meant to be a part of the game, and then was added later in development. Who knows?
Different Textures on Various Models
Overall, most of it just seems like added polish to the final version. For example, you can see that the steel pipe in the trade demo looks unfinished compared to the rest of its surroundings, where the finalized version definitely looks older and more banged up.
Similarly, the lettering on the crashed cop car is different. In the demo, the side of the car reads "Buffalo". This could be a reference to where Konami's U.S. corporate office was once located, in Buffalo Grove, Illinois. They later moved to Redwood City, California in 1999 (the same year of Silent Hill's release), though the Buffalo Grove location still remained open for producing Konami's arcade games until 2003, when the location was shut down due to heavy losses.
Different Teachers at Midwich Elementary School
When viewing one of the papers in the school, the teacher's names are different. The finalized version contains Sonic Youth's band member's names - Thurston Moore, Lee Ranaldo, and Kim Gordon. However, I have no idea what the names in the trade demo could be referencing. The game is chock-full of references to famous people in horror, so maybe there's a connection there? Feel free to speculate in the comments - I'd love to figure this one out!
The Trade Demo Includes a Fully Voiced Scene
Remember that cut-scene at Norman's Motel with Harry and Kaufmann? In at least the PAL and Japanese versions of the game, Harry's final lines are not spoken. But for some mystical reason, they are in the trade demo!
This one puzzles me. On one hand, I never really questioned Harry not speaking because it just seemed like something Harry would think, not say. On the other hand, if they went through the effort of recording it, why did they remove it from the final versions? It does sound like there's an echo to it, so maybe Konami wasn't happy with the quality and didn't have time to re-record the lines. Again, who knows?
You can download and play the demo too!
Thankfully, Bryan was kind enough to upload the trade demo's files so that we may download and play the game! There's also quite a few differences that I didn't list, such as items and enemies being found in different locations, little errors and typos that were fixed in the final version, different camera angles and more! To see all there is and download the demo for yourself, definitely check out Bryan's forum. Now go have fun!