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Indy Racing 2000. Don't Set the Pace. Demolish It!


By: Leonard Herman
Designed by: Val Prusmack

One of the bitter realities of the video-game industry is that eventually a system will become obsolete. Although computer systems tend to age faster than the consoles, the software for the old computers will at least work to some degree on a newer system. This is not often the case with the video-game consoles. In most cases, owners have two choices once their console becomes orphaned. They can upgrade to a new system and begin building a new software library or they can remain with their old system, aware that it won't be supported anymore. Despite the number of homes that a system may be in, software publishers will deem a system dead once the console manufacturer decides not to support it any longer. Jayson Hill, PR manager for Hasbro Interactive, says that his company doesn't have any plans to release games for any discontinued systems. "Resources can more profitably be employed to develop and market games for active systems." Most publishers follow the same philosophy.

For the average video-game owner, the idea of retaining an orphaned system isn't so bad. Stores like Funcoland continue to sell used games for older systems. Regardless of its age, any game is new to someone who has never played it before. The problem with Funcoland is that you'll find software for any system that you want, as long as it was manufactured by Sony, Nintendo, or Sega. (And even that's not entirely true. Just try to find a game for the Sega Master System!)

Fortunately, a new trend is emerging, and new software is actually being released for nonsupported systems. In most cases these are grassroots "homebrew" efforts that were initially written by hobbyists to satisfy their own needs and who then later decided that others may also be interested in their product. The term "homebrew" was coined by Ed Federmeyer, an early homebrewer, as inspired by a computer user's group that he had read about in Steve Levy's book Hackers. The group was the Bay Area Amateur Computer Users Group, a monthly gathering of early computer hobbyists, which included Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, and Eugene Jarvis. The group had been commonly called the Homebrew Computer Club.

In separate cases, development companies have been deciding to release previously unreleased games for systems that had been become extinct. In all cases many game players and collectors welcome these new games.

Next: Now tell me about Harry Dodgson and the first homebrewed cartridge>

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