The Game: Just another day in the life of the rock group Journey, as you help Steve Perry, Neal Schon, Ross Valory, Jonathan Cain and Steve Smith evade alien “groupoids” intent on keeping them from reaching their next gig. (Bally/Midway, 1983)
Memories: Not one of the brightest ideas ever to occur in the history of arcade games, Journey is an stepchild of the much better Tron video game. Someone, somewhere, thought it was be a brilliant idea to recycle the basics of Tron‘s game play, while attaching a new celebrity licensing opportunity to it. Fresh from two hit rock albums (Escape and Frontiers), Journey seemed a likely choice.
Some of the elements of Journey are identical to Tron, including the opening screen where you select which portion of the game to play. The Steve Perry part of the game was very much like the “MCP cone” game in Tron, while Ross Valory had to wander through a maze of killer… objects, not unlike Tron‘s “grid” bug game. If you got through all the levels, you were rewarded with a new level, trying to fend off the groupoids during a gig scene in which a recording of the song Separate Ways was blasted into your skull at full volume.
Journey was also the only application of a new technology Midway had licensed from Ralph Baer, the inventor of home video games. Baer had the idea of incorporating a small black & white digital camera into the marquee of an arcade game, which would record a snapshot of the player’s face for use in the high score register rather than the player’s initials. One self-appointed comedian decided, during site-testing of the new technology, to moon the camera; Midway didn’t want a repeat performance, and so the camera technology was killed…until they needed to capture shots of each member of Journey for this game. So the next time you fire up your PS2’s Eye Toy, just think – it was a “chain reaction” that started (and almost ended) here.