The words ‘rock band’ have almost become a branded term since the explosion of rhythm based music videogames have littered countless living rooms with plastic instrumentation. If you say rock band and videogame in the same sentence you will no doubt conjure up this kind of elaborate karaoke imagery. However there was a time that rock bands would lend their name and likeness to video games that were not necessarily music based experiences.
Had these games come out now they would be true to the spirit of rock and roll by rebelling against the rhythm based games. But who am I kidding? Complain all you want, it is fun to watch your drunk friends play Rock Band and drunk girls play Guitar Hero. In the meantime, here are five bands that made games about their rock band, before Rock Band.
Data Age 1982
“Love-Crazed Groupies, Sneaky Photographers, and Shifty-Eyed Promoters”
Who could possibly be love-crazed for the guys in Journey, the band that would make songs that will played at Senior proms for decades to come? You play as a friend of the band that needs to escort them safely to the Journey Scarab Space Ship. What, you thought Steve Perry would settle for a tour bus?
To their credit, Journey is probably the first rock band to have their own videogame. I remember this game and the commercial for it. I do not, however, remember ever seeing the Journey arcade game which rendered photo realistic icons of the band. High tech stuff for 1983!
Arcade and some terrible ports to consoles
“Music is a weapon.”
In this atrocious light gun shooter, Aerosmith fights off the New Order Nation, an organization which seems to think that Aerosmith is some kind of threat to their plan for world domination. The basic story of this game plays out like a PSA for saving music education in local school systems. Like all evil organizations hell-bent on taking over the world by ridding it of rock music, it is headed by a hot chick named Mistress Helga.
Interesting fact: Mistress Helga was played by Kerri Hoskins, the same actress who played Soyna Blade in Mortal Kombat 3, Mortal Kombat 4 and Mortal Kombat Gold.
Sega Genesis 1992
“Heavy Metal Pinball”
I can’t take pinball games that are played with pixels seriously. I can’t take Motley Crüe after Shout at the Devil seriously either. Apparently the Crüe is going to some how rock you out with pinball. I am guessing that, judging by the intro video, someone in a van is going break into your house in the suburbs and cause a general racket in your neighborhood.
Wearing a doctor’s head mirror, the Motley Crüe mascot Allister Fiend makes an appearance on the cover of the game, continuing to let you know this is a product affiliated with Motley Crüe. This is necessary becaue the game was actually released in that strange time after Dr. Feelgood when Vince Neil had left the band. I suppose it was easier to make a bad pinball game rather then a Broadway show.
I have never thought of Iron Maiden as a play-on-words kind of band, but if they were going to be one, I’d have thought the pun would be better than Ed Hunter. It is a pretty standard rail shooter with some very dated CGI elements depicting classic Iron Maiden album locations. Eddie is in the game too, of course, but he looks a little silly all hulked out. Imagine an FPS adaptation of Somewhere in Time game, a game where you get to play as cyborg Eddie in a corrupt and distant future. Yeah, Ed Hunter is nothing like that at all.
The most important part of this game is that there was a tour supporting it which brought Bruce Dickinson back to front the band. The game is packaged as a double CD, one with the game data and one with a greatest hits collection which includes a Bruce Dickinson version of the Paul DiAnno classic Wrathchild. Even the band found this game kind of boring. Bruce is excitable though.
KISS: Psycho Circus – The Nightmare Child
Third Law Interactive 2000
I liked this FPS. I thought the graphics were pretty good when I played it on Dreamcast. I also like KISS, except I don’t like bad KISS and even the biggest fans of KISS know what bad KISS is. Unfortunaly you don’t play this game as a member of KISS – you are members of the Todd MacFarlane comic/action figure line. You don’t play as Gene, you play as someone who has the same mythical powers of Gene Simmons’ demon character.
Now, if this was a videogame adaptation of KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park, we’d really be onto something. Fighting evil robot KISS would be awesome.