Throughout my life, music and video games have been a constant. While I still have to do even the most basic math on my fingers, I can recite the Konami Code on cue. I’ll never recall the name of the first girl I kissed, but I’ll never forget the song I dry humped her to at the 8th Grade Winter Formal (s/o to PM Dawn).
So why is it that two powerful art forms, when combined, fail so spectacularly? Let’s take a deeper look at the question no one has been asking.
Aerosmith- Revolution X
The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world Aerosmith was an awesome gen-x alternative band in the 1990’s.
At the same time when Snapcase was releasing “Lookingglassself,” millions of kids such as myself were completely fleeced at the idea of what “heavy music” could be. Blame it on “Wayne’s World 2.” Blame it on MTV. All I know is that somewhere along the line, we all were sold on the fact that some geriatric, plastic-surgery-addicted dude in spandex was really and truly sticking it to the man.
Enter Revolution X.
A standard arcade rail shooter, Revolution X takes place in the dystopian future of 1996 where a fascist dictatorship called the New Order Nation have banned all books, music, and the like.
So in this repressive totalitarian state, who will rise up and take back the power? Why, Aerosmith, of course! The same guys who brought us shitkicking barnburners like “Crazy,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” and “Yagagaow yeah!”
Throughout the game, Steven Tyler and Co. give you your marching orders to rampage through levels, murdering everything in sight by…shooting CDs at them? Sure, what the hell.
Keep in mind, the whole time you’re doing this, the same five Aerosmith songs play on a constant loop. I’d like to think that somewhere, there’s a former arcade employee who still flies into inexplicable fits of rage whenever “Love In An Elevator” comes on.
Back when arcades existed and were still populated in equal parts with high school dropouts and pederasts, a wide-eyed youth could delve into this cave of wonders for the gaming experience of a lifetime or, in case the line at Q*bert was too long, a video game starring the members of the rock band Journey.
It’s important to note that this was their second video game. In this version, the members are given the nightmarish appearance of having lifelike heads placed on pixilated bodies. Behold:
As far as arcade games go, it’s fairly bland. You go through different intergalactic—actually let’s just let this failed 1980’s reporter give you the scoop:
Well that sounds…that just sounds awful. What they also don’t mention is that the only actual Journey song used is “Separate Ways.” I suppose in an era when cocaine use was rampant and you still had to go to movie theaters to masturbate, a game like this is forgivable. Nope, wait. It’s totally not. Moving on.
50 Cent- Blood on the Sand
Sports drink mogul and bullet wound enthusiast Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson has made an empire of his brand. Clothing, headphones, straight-to-DVD-movies, you name it. It was only a matter of time before Fiddy got a console port. And wow, did it not disappoint (depending on how you measure that sort of thing).
Of his two, I’m more partial to “50 Cent: Blood on the Sand.” You see, there comes a point when dick-grabbing-boisterous-hip-hop-posturing, product placement and xenophobia meet up in a perfect storm. “Blood on the Sand” is that storm.
The plot is amazing. It’s just another day in the life of Fiddy and his G-Unit companions as they traverse the globe to play a concert for a wealthy sultan. Actually, “wealthy” is a bit of a misnomer. See, when it comes time to pay up, he doesn’t have the cash and instead gives them a platinum skull and no I am not making any of this up.
Long story short, the skull is stolen by terrorists. You know where I’m going with this: 50 Cent killing terrorists. This whole thing plays out in such a fantastical manner that even Rick Ross would give pause and go “Um, I don’t know if this is grounded in reality” before consuming an entire ham.
Either way, if your idea of a good time is shooting ordinance at vague representations of the horrors 9/11 and dialogue peppered with the word “motherfucker,” this is the game for you.
Kiss- Psycho Circus: The Nightmare Child
Of course Kiss has a video game. OF COURSE.
Based on a comic book that was based on an actual Kiss Album, The Nightmare Child follows the adventures of a Kiss cover band as they gain superpowers and go on a quest to retrieve the sword of Whocares from the realm of Doesanyonegiveashit.
That’s right, you don’t even get to play the game as any member of Kiss. You’re a fucking cover band. That’s like picking up a copy of Super Mario only to find out you play the game as one of those question mark blocks.
This game is the perfect representation of early Aughts rebranding failure. Industrial was still big and darker imagery was selling. Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Korn…these dudes were making bank. Disaffected, sullen, broken-home, bank.
So all of the sudden Kiss goes “Yeah, we’re dark! We’re Edgy! We’re gonna bring you to down to the PSYCHO CIRCUS.”
The ultimate in marketing whoredom, Kiss has infiltrated everything their grease painted brains can think up. They’re everywhere, telling you how to rock n’ roll, and at what time to party…wait a sec. This sounds eerily familiar.