One of the craziest ideas to hit the arcade scene came from Bally Midway in ’83. Wanting to capitalize on the success of Journey, they licensed their music and their likenesses to build a stand up game based around the band. Though it wasn’t the first time the band was featured in a game of their own (Data Age created a game for the Atari 2600 called Journey Escape in ’82), the flashy arcade treatment was certainly different from anything else at the time.
Years later, Midway would revisit the concept by licensing Aerosmith in the same way with a game called Revolution X. Taking on the whole “rebel with an attitude” and “fighting conformity” schtick, it came out in ’94, only a few years after Midway’s Terminator 2 gun game. It was pretty much the same setup – only with Aerosmith and game elements wrapped around a dystopian future run by the “New Order Nation”. Conversion kits for the Terminator 2 stand ups and for the Alien 3 three-way cabinet were also sent out to help arcade owners resurrect these cabinets into rock star gun games. Music is the weapon!
I’ll admit to having a lot of fun with this in the arcade regardless of how weird the concept was. Instead of grenades, for example, you could shoot explosive CDs. Aerosmith’s music played everywhere throughout the game and Steven Tyler popped up in a video clip at the start to encourage the player who took on the role of a rebel seeking to rescue the band from the nefarious forces of the New Order Nation.
In this strange world, the NON has outlawed everything ranging from TV to music turning the world into the most boring place imaginable. Performing at a club (which was apparently not the best thing to do), Aerosmith is captured before your eyes. But you’re not the type to just sit around and do nothing. Traveling around the world to destroy NON bases, you’ll ultimately face off NON’s Head Mistress Helga in a final confrontation before joining the band at a concert.
The action wasn’t bad, though the concept was utterly out of left field. Plot and setting aside, it was a decent rail-based shooter for the arcade and featured a number of improvements over Midway’s earlier attempts with Terminator 2. Featuring colorful backdrops, better music integration, and plenty of new targets, Revolution X in the arcade held its own. If you were a fan of Aerosmith, it was fanservice times how many tokens you thought they deserved. If not, the arcade always had other choices.
It was ultimately ported across wide number of platforms including the SNES and the Playstation, none of which apparently supported a light gun attachment. That by itself was bizarre as the port for Terminator 2: The Arcade Game did have a bit of light gun support from the Genesis and the SNES. Some of the gratuitous gore was also toned down since Revolution X could be pretty bloody, though with Aerosmith blaring in the background, it seemed more cartoonish than cold blooded. And apparently, the ports were panned by the critics for a variety of reasons whether it was the awful look of the graphics to the repetitive, gun-less action.
The ad isn’t bad and cuts straight to the point – you’re a badass dude with a shaved head looking to show up those sticks in the uniformed mud what fun is all about! You’ve got the music, explosive CD power ups, and Aerosmith on your side of great justice! Though the screens looked fairly neat, as mentioned before, the conversions were less than impressive. Still, it stands out as one of the stranger examples of fusing licensed music and band popularity into a kill ’em all rapture of arcade proprotions.
Several years later, it seems that game developers thought it better to play to the actual strengths of these performers through music rhythm games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero. And from what I hear, those didn’t do too bad.