The Ill Communication

Revolution X

Developer: Midway
Publisher: Midway
U.S. Release: 1994

Box Quote: "Music is the weapon."

After a bit of a slump in the mid ‘80s, rock band Aerosmith got their second wind starting with their ninth studio album Permanent Vacation.  Following that record was a number of others that reached the top of the charts and gave a number of singles that were heard on many rock stations -- including both classic and new rock stations, based on how long they’ve been around.  Their music videos were also something worth noting.  Both Pump and Get a Grip filled MTV and VH1 with hits such as "Livin' on the Edge", "Cryin'", and "Crazy."  This success crossed through the rest of the ‘80s and into the early ‘90s.

Midway Games Inc., during this hype for the band, eventually got together with the group to make an arcade game based around them.  1994 is the year this game was released to arcades.  This is the year we played Revolution X.

Very similar to Midway’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day arcade game, Revolution X is a standup, rail shooter that has the player handling a fully automatic type of firearm to progress through the game.  The motivation for the player to continue moving forward  is a plot that is incredibly ridiculous to anyone who reads the short description during the attraction screen.  To summarize: Headmistress Helga, leader of the oppressive government known as the New Order Nation (NON), has control of all the world’s governments in the near-future dystopian of 1996.

Her ambition is to oppress the youth by destroying all forms of their media culture such as video games, television, magazines, and music.  The targeted youth is between the ages of 13 and 30.  NON can accomplish this task with its large army that’s equipped with machine guns, helicopters, and tanks.  Some of which are trained to do battle by wearing rollerblades.  You, the last surviving members of the youth, decide to fight back against NON by equipping yourself with a special gun that not only fires bullets, but also fires CDs at your foes.  Yeah, that’s right, a gun that launches music CDs!  Now even though all of that sounds really silly, the game is still fun as heck.

The gameplay of Revolution X is basically a shooting gallery.  Each level is a different location where you are fighting the forces of NON.  The environments are yours to shoot-up to your hearts content as part of your high score is based on the amount of damage you do in each level.  You can basically destroy any object you see such as windows, signs, doors, mirrors, pay phones, vases, bottles, speakers, and toilets.

The first level has you running through a club in Los Angeles known as Club X.  It’s crawling with NON soldiers and playing that night at the club is no other than, you guessed it: Aerosmith.  When you get to the theater room, you can see the group is performing “Eat the Rich” while this war between NON and you is happening all around them (this is an awesome scene).  They are eventually kidnapped and forced off the stage by NON soldiers with Helga. When you make it to the groups dressing room, you find a video tape with a prerecorded message from Steven Tyler that mentions: if we see this message he’s recorded, then NON has taken over.  He instructs the player to find their car and stop the new order.

Different from most arcade games at that time was the ability to pick-and-choose what levels you wanted to play.  They all have you traveling around the globe foiling NON operations like a brainwashing camp and a facility that creates mind control drugs.  In addition to NON security personnel that use helicopters and armored vehicles to stop you in your tracks, you’ll face a number different enemies like ninjas, jungle tribesmen, and a giant green skull that shoots eyeballs at you.  Each stage was unique in the objective you had to go through such as stopping a bus or winding your way through a maze.

The game uses digitized sprites like in the Mortal Kombat games, so everything has a realistic look to it.  All the members of Aerosmith also acted their own roles and voices.  You don’t see them all too often except for mission briefings and a few other secret locations.

A treat was to hear songs from Aerosmith be played throughout the game.  As noted earlier, you’ll hear songs like “Eat the Rich” during the first level, “Sweet Emotion” for the stats screen, and even hear a Muzak version of “Love in an Elevator.”  Not every track in the game is a song from Aerosmith, but the rest are okay too and fit the game well.

A total of three players could play at a time, and is best played with a group of friends.  When played in a noisy arcade in early/mid ‘90s while hearing Aerosmith songs as you pummel NON forces with your CD gun made for an awesome experience.  Yeah, the story is outright ridiculous, but that shouldn’t deter anyone away from having a fun time with this classic arcade shooter.

Image credits: The Arcade Flyer Archive

Posted on: December 3, 2014