Brief Thoughts on Innovation in Videogames through Meteor Blaster DX Signature Edition

Bill Loguidice's picture

After having purchased Meteor Blaster DX Signature Edition for the NEC Turbo Duo/PC Engine (it's in Super CD format) many months back, I was presented with the opportunity to review it for an upcoming issue of Video Game Collector magazine. Of course, me being me, I volunteered to both review the product, provide photos and interview the author, who was quite agreeable.

For those that are not familiar with Meteor Blaster DX, it's what's considered a homebrew game, meaning software created by one or a small group of people in their free time, typically for systems that are no longer commercially viable. One of the largest communities surrounds the Atari 2600, but most videogame and computer systems have some development efforts going on all the time. After all, everyone is passionate about something, and this is particularly true for classic hardware.

Anyway, as a homebrew game, Meteor Blaster DX, despite being loaded with features, quite polished and containing bonus games, is at its heart - the Meteor Blaster part - just a slightly souped up Asteroids clone. *Yawn* you say? Well, I agree, as despite the polish and the interesting bonus games and content included for the one low price (not to mention the professional packaging), it's nothing to really get excited over. Frankly, even with the pedestrian nature of the core product, for NEC enthusiasts, new games are a true rarity, and Bt Garner and the entity he operates under are pretty much the only active developers for the platform, so this a must purchase for them, but for everyone else...

So, after all this, where is the innovation I spoke about in the title? See, innovation means different things to different people, and it's often tinged with bias. For my purposes, particularly in the case of this posting, it's doing something different or not yet attempted, even if it is something simple or a variation. In the case of "Meteor Blaster DX Signature Edition" - something like the sixth update to the original game - since the author and everyone else isMeteor Blaster DX title screen, featuring customizationMeteor Blaster DX title screen, featuring customization unable to get the original glass mastering technology that was used for creating commercial Super CD's, regular CD-R's or CD's must be utilized (which the NEC CD-based systems can easily read). While you can't create an "authentic" disc, the move to CD-R means that the homebrew author has direct control over the program that goes on disc and any potential customization offered. In this case, each of the 100 copies of "Signature Edition" receives an "x of 100" serial number and text of the buyer's choice on the IN-GAME MENU SCREEN (see image). In my case, I chose my name as the in menu text. Simple, yes, but no one has attempted that before on a relatively high volume homebrew release such as this. Kudos to the author for thinking that one up and innovating in what to me is an exciting new way. Let's see how others now run with it now that the proverbial genie is out of the bottle and the way has been led.

By the way, for my full impressions and the interview, stay tuned, as I'll let you know how things go with "Video Game Collector" and when the magazine is released...

(Note: "Meteor Blaster DX Signature Edition" works on any NEC system capable of playing Super CD's (CD2) and also in any decent emulator)