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- Journey -




Journey by Snoopy

I’m going to come clean right away. I am a big fan of the band Journey, and have been for many years. However, this arcade game simply does not do the band justice. Never having seen the real machine I was looking forward to trying it when it was first emulated. I had heard a lot about what a bad game it was though, so I feared the worst. After playing numerous times I decided that while not a good game, Journey also wasn’t nearly as bad as some people seem to think.
The game is a platformer composed of multiple mini-games, a popular format at the time also seen in Midway’s Tron. (As a footnote, Journey wrote two songs for the Tron movie soundtrack) The five members of the band have had their instruments "Captured", and must visit five different planets to retrieve them. As a Star Trek style "Look Into the Future", the player flies the scarab vehicle (as seen on Journey album covers) to this group of planets on the "Frontiers" of the galaxy. The player chooses a planet to land on, and while the other band members wait in the vehicle, the owner of the contested instrument hops out and navigates an obstacle course related to the instrument. So the keyboardist must negotiate conveyor belts with piano keys, the bassist hops between floating bass amps, and so on. Once the instrument has been retrieved, the obstacle course vanishes and a new "Trial by Fire" manifests. The band member must then blast his way through the new threat and return to the vehicle in order to "Escape" the planet. Once successful, the planet is marked complete by a ring (also seen on Journey album covers), and the player chooses which planet to visit "Next". Once all five instruments have been reclaimed, the game goes to a bonus screen. The band performs a concert on stage, while you control the band’s manager Herbie Herbert (not seen on Journey album covers, and yes Herbie really was almost that fat). Members of the crowd—who were obviously not "Raised on Radio"—are trying to rush the stage, and Herbie has to repel them by bouncing them off his stomach. Once one gets through, the entire crowd rushes the stage and steals the instruments again, while the band makes its "Departure". Then it’s off to the scarab vehicle to fetch those instruments once again. Of course, the planets have undergone some "Evolution" in the meantime, and the obstacles are that much harder to navigate. And how long does this loop go on? If you’re good enough, for "Infinity".
The graphics are both good and bad. The game uses digitized photos of the band members’ heads, which is an interesting effect, but puts them on silly-looking cartoon bodies. In fact, except for those heads (photographed in black and white), the entire game looks very colorfully cartoonish. The two do not mix well. Either one by itself would be okay, but put together they look rather stupid. Also, the enemies that must be dodged/blasted are these annoying abstract shapes, inserted because the band insisted the game be nonviolent. The music consists entirely of Journey songs (what else?), and during the bonus stage, the game plays a tape loop of "Separate Ways (Worlds Apart)". The tape was a great idea, but it sounds a bit jarring after listening to five stages of cheap, digitized 8-bit versions of their other classics. Like the graphics, it is a contrast which does not sit well. The shooting sound effects are unique to each instrument (so when you fire it sounds like you're beating a drum, playing the piano, etc.), which is a nice touch.
Overall the game is decent, but unspectacular. It used some interesting ideas, but the limitations of the game’s other technology turn them into drawbacks, instead of the innovations they could have been. Furthermore, anyone who hates Journey is guaranteed to hate this game. Even I find it lacking in too many areas to be worth more than an occasional game or two. About the best thing I can say for it is that the Retrocade emulation seems to be perfect, even down to a sample of the tape loop. So if you do want to try it out, you’ll know exactly what Journey is like. From what I’ve heard, the band took the game on tour with them in 1983, but even they got tired of it after just a few months. If the subjects of a game don’t even want to play it, what further recommendation do you need?
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© 1999 EmuViews