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Life Before Guitar Hero: Music-Based Video Games of the Past

Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Guitar Hero: Aerosmith

Music-based video games like the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series have become an outrageous success. These games allow players to go through the motions of idols ranging from Metallica to the Beatles. But the relationship between popular music and gaming goes back a few decades.

Here’s a quick look at some notable examples of the marriage of rock n’ roll and video games.

Some of the following games were more successful in terms of their popularity than others, but the one thing that they all have in common is that the concept of each one is more than a tad head-scratching.

Guns, pinball, pursuit, video editing? It seems like the creators of these games either never played video games in their lives or were completely unfamiliar with the bands they chose to include. Or both.


Looks exciting, doesn't it? Um, nope.Looks exciting, doesn't it? Um, nope.

Crüe Ball – Children of the ‘90s remember the Sega Genesis as the king of home gaming consoles. In 1993, industry heavyweight Electronic Arts, now best known for its sports franchises, produced a video game version of a pinball machine featuring ‘80s bad boy hair metallers Mötley Crüe.

The Crüe was a little past their prime and virtual pinball has never been too awesome, which probably explains the middling reception for this title.


Journey  Escape is one of the earliest and worst attempts at rock n' gamingJourney Escape is one of the earliest and worst attempts at rock n' gamingJourney Escape– “Don’t Stop Believing” is a song that just won’t go away. The hit by ‘70s and ‘80s cock rockers Journey is ubiquitous even today. But the Atari 2600 game based on the band is, thankfully, mostly forgotten.

This game hit the stands around 1982, and was far from the hit that Journey’s records were. It is a pitiful game, where you control the band in some kind of futuristic vehicle as they scroll vertically up the screen trying to avoid groupies.

Or something like that.

It’s enough to make you stop believing.

1982 Ad for Journey Escape1982 Ad for Journey Escape


Why Aerosmith was  featured in a shoot 'em up is anyone's guess.Why Aerosmith was featured in a shoot 'em up is anyone's guess.

Revolution X– This was a coin-op shooter that hit arcades in the ‘90s and featured rock legends Aerosmith. The plot is that music has been banned in the dystopian future of 1996, and Aerosmith is imprisoned for playing a concert.

The job of the shooter is to rescue the individual members of Aerosmith, culminating in a shoot out at Wembley Stadium.

Unfortunately for the game and its target audience, Revolution X was not meant to simulate shooting an actual gun. Instead, “music is your weapon,” which meant that given the choice between this and virtually any other shooter in the arcade, you always passed up the chance to rescue Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, et al.


An actual screen shot  from Make My Video, believe it or not.An actual screen shot from Make My Video, believe it or not.

Make My Video – Possibly the worst video game series of all time, Make My Video had players editing music videos for Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, pre-pubescent hip-hoppers Kriss Kross, or INXS.

This is a universally reviled attempt at blending music and video games, and featured mostly flash-in-the-pan acts to boot. Thank God the '90s are over.


Did the Spice Girls produce anything   worthwhile?Did the Spice Girls produce anything worthwhile?Spice World– There was a time when it seemed like the Spice Girls controlled the world. They had a big-time movie, #1 hits, and copious merchandise. Looking back, it’s hard to understand why so many people clamored to get their hands on such total crap.

When Guitar Hero hit, the gaming world rejoiced at the glorious union of music and video games. Even non-gamers got in on the act. Rock Band upped the stakes, and both franchises continue to sell well. It was a long time coming, but music and video games finally found themselves coexisting happily in the hands and ears of their fans.

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Motley Crue is one of the few bands to have made the jump to video games.
Last modified on Tuesday, 26 July 2011 02:44

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