Watching or playing just about any game on the Amiga that used parallax scrolling used to fascinate me as a kid. It was – in those days – the closest we could expect to get to fitting three dimensions into 512KB of memory and a 7.14MHz processor (pre-rendered aside).
At its simplest, Parallax scrolling is a graphics technique typically utilised for 2D backgrounds in games and draws on the observation that objects closer to our eye appear to move faster than those further away. Think about the last time you were sitting in the car, looking out the window as you drive along a stretch of country road. The trees lining either side of the road whiz by, but the mountains in the background slide slowly across your vision. Rows of cows – depending on their distance from you – appear to move at different speeds.
That’s parallax scrolling. It’s just a trick of layering, but was used to give a gorgeous sense of environmental depth in older games like Street Fighter 2 and well, just about anything published by Psygnosis.
If you want to see a good example of parallax scrolling on the venerable Amiga platform, check out this YouTube clip.