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Journey Video Games...Don't Stop Believing!
Robert Berry - 11/21/00


Back in "the day" my pal Bill and I were videogame junkies. We'd spend every moment of our free times playing our ATARI 2600 machines. Laughably basic by today's standards, the primitive graphics, sounds, and single button joysticks still made for gameplay that would eat up an afternoon in no time, while listening to great music of the day from STYX, DEVO, and JOURNEY (OK...we sucked).

We'd eagerly await with baited breath for the latest issue of ELECTRONIC GAMES magazine. Always chock full of the latest Atari, Intellivision, and Odyssey 2 cartridges, it was the perfect way to stay on top of the videogame world. And in the back of one issue in 1982 was an ad for a JOURNEY ATARI GAME!

The magazine ad was great. With a photo of the band, it had a tagline at the bottom that said, "And just like Journey Says ... Some May Win ... and Some May Lose." They even made a special TV commercial for the game that you can DOWNLOAD HERE (just a small 548K Real Media File). Featuring concert footage and a cheezy voiceover that challenges you to "Live to rock another day!", how could someone NOT want to buy this excellent game?

From the long gone company DATA AGE, this Atari game featured a crude version of "Don't Stop Believing" that while you guided each bandmember to safety, avoiding love crazed groupies and greedy promoters. The annoying music made it nearly impossible to play for more than 10 minutes without wanting to hurl the cartrdige across the room and shatter it to bits.

As you can see from the picture above, they had a tough time actually capturing accurate likenesses of the band members. This is either Neil Schon or Steve Perry...it's hard to tell for sure.

You'd think this grand experiment of mixing rock and video games for the very first time would have stopped here. But Journey took it a step further. Data Age was struggling financially (Gee...even after spending a fortune promoting this classic?), so they sold the rights to Bally/Midway to actually make an Arcade version of Journey.

I remember when this first appeared at the LeMans Speedway arcade at Southland Mall in Hayward, California. There was a crowd of teens around it, not sure what to make of it. The gameplay was horrible, but there was some amazing features to it that really set it apart.

Instead of Pac-Man still "blip and bleep" type music, the game played actual full vocal version of the Journey hit "Separate Ways". Reading about how hard it was to get voice synthesized for games as primitive as BERSERK, I was amazed to hear a whole song in a game.

It turns out that the "way ahead of its time audio" was actually an internal cassette player that had an endless loop tape ready to go. You can only imagine how long that lasted before breaking with all the kicking and smacking the machine took in an average week.

Another innovation the Journey arcade game had was the first widespread use of digitized photographs. Avoiding the horribly unrecognizable bandmember representations in the Atari version, the arcade had actual black and white photos of the bandmembers faces.

Again this is pretty goofy looking by today's standards, but when you consider the best facial graphics belonged to Mario in Donkey Kong, it was pretty amazing for the time.

But gimmicks aside, the game was a piece of crap. With so many other fun games to choose from that didn't involve pretending to be Steve Perry shooting a microphone, it was no mystery why it soon started gathering dust.

Apparently mixing music and videogames wasn't the marriage made in heaven videogame manufacturers hoped it would be. SEGA tried their luck with the 1990 flop MICHAEL JACKSON'S MOONWALKER, but no self respecting teenage kid would be caught dead playing that in an arcade.

Midway actually tried their hand at mixing Rock and Videogames 11 years later after their grand Journey experiment when they released REVOLUTION X. With gameplay that tasked the user to rescue the kidnapped members of AEROSMITH, and their hits blazing in the background, the game was essentially a ripoff of the TERMINATOR 2 shooter game.

A couple of music themed games actually worked okay. SEGA had a Motley Crue themed pinball game that was rather fun, and a WU TANG CLAN game was pretty fun as well. (But how could a game that lets you be Old Dirty Bastard NOT be fun?)

Though it's not likely you'll ever find a working version of the Journey arcade game to play, through the magic of Arcade Emulation, you can download a few small files to play it on your own computer.

You can download the great MAME Arcade Game Emulator HERE and then download the ROM for the JOURNEY ARCADE GAME right here.

-Robert