Retro Coin Op Synopsis

With the parallel rise of video games and MTV, it was only a matter of time before someone decided to combine the two. In 1983, Journey was one of the hottest bands on the planet, still riding high on 1981’s multiplatinum Escape album and just beginning to bask in the success of its follow-up, Frontiers. Mixing anthem rock and tear-jerking ballads, the group was a hit with both genders, and if the kids dug it on the radio, Bally/Midway hoped they would in the arcades as well.

In the Journey video game, the band was represented by digitized black and white picture heads sitting atop color cartoon bodies. Each member had a variety of facial expressions, reacting to any good or bad event in the game. And of course, the obligatory Journey hits—“Wheel in the Sky,” “Lights,” “Don’t Stop Believin',” “Stone in Love,” “Still They Ride” and “Chain Reaction”—played in the background (as electronic re-creations). Even the cabinet was decked out in Journey style, mimicking the Frontiers album art.

In the game, Journey was just dying to put on a show for their legions of fans, but they had one small problem: their instruments had been scattered to five different planets. Boarding their space-traveling Scarab (a fixture of several Journey album covers), the five-man band headed to the stars to recover their stolen goods.

In lead singer Steve Perry’s stage, the pilfered microphone was sitting at the bottom of a maze of gates, which opened and shut to block your path (and cause your death). Once you worked your way down and recovered the mic, you had to help Steve shoot his way back to the Scarab with the microphone’s powerful blasts.

To get Jonathan Cain’s piano back, you had to guide the Journey keyboardist down a series of conveyor belts, hopping over moving piano keys that seemed determined to do him in. The conveyor belts disappeared when Jonathan got his piano, but two waves of circular objects came in from both sides of the screen to threaten the keyboardist. It took two blasts to knock them out, making a safe passage for Jonathan back to the Scarab.

Drummer Steve Smith had a bounding, bouncing stage fraught with peril. To reach Steve’s drum set at the top of the screen, you had to bounce on a series of large, moving drums. One jump turned the big drums blue, but another made them disappear completely, leaving Steve with one less safety net above a deadly fall. Once the set was recovered, you helped Steve blast through waves of infinity symbols to rejoin his bandmates in the Scarab.

On Ross Valory’s level, several rising platforms carried the bassist up to his instrument. Ross had to hop from one platform to the next to work his way over, but once the bass was in his hands, he could shoot his way back to the group.

Neal Schon’s stage outfitted the guitarist with a jetpack, which you used to lower him safely down through a narrow cavern. The walls were deadly, and if you managed to navigate Neal to the bottom, you still had to make it back out while dodging a barrage of slow missiles.

Once all five instruments were back with the band, Journey put on a concert for their adoring public—including you, the gamer. A tape deck built into the machine launched into the biggest hit from the Frontiers album, “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart).”

But your work wasn’t done yet. You now controlled the band’s manager, who had the unglamorous job of turning back the hordes of groupies trying to get a piece of the band. By moving across the three doors to the elevated stage, you had to bounce the fans off your ample stomach, forcing them back. If you failed, the crowd would rush the stage and the band would be forced to (you guessed it) escape. The groupies would seize the instruments, and once again it would be your job to salvage them from the five planets.

Journey was as hot as ever in the summer of ’83, but unfortunately for everyone involved, the video game market wasn’t. The great crash was about to begin, and Journey was caught right at the forefront. The band broke up a few years later (not as a result of the video game), but this story does have a happy ending. The arcade staged a comeback, and in 1996, so did Journey, releasing their first new album in ten years, Trial By Fire.

Arcade Machine Release History

1985 - Journey

Arcade Game Sub Categories


Machine Manufacturer

Bally Midway

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