Revolution X: Rock and Roll Videogaming in the Late 20th Century
Joe Perry flies up to the moon on a rocket powered guitar.
O my droogies, your friend and humble narrator has found in his rabbit of a quest for the "Plan 9 From Outer Space" of the 1990's interactive entertainment superhighway the most glorious b-film fantasy of rock n roll decadence. "Revolution X" was an arcade shooter released in 1994 with the full cooperation of classic rockers Aerosmith. This video game is an awesome waste of time and a decadently trashy retro guilty pleasure.
It was made by Midway, the team responsible for what I can only imagine is the best "Terminator 2: Judgement Day" game ever, and "Mortal Kombat", that video-capture orgy of blood, decapitations, and pep-rally worthy techno. "Mortal Kombat" was crucified alongside "Night Trap", "Lethal Enforcers", and "Doom" by the U.S. Congress for all being sick and perverse and ultra-violent. (To cure us of red or pink pixel attack congressional hearings were held, the ESRB was born, and the Gulf War reboot was just a twinkle in W's eye.)
In the wake of all of that comes "Revolution X" (why? cos it's GENERATION X dude). Yes, this game has the brain of any heterosexual teenage grunge-era male hormone factory that grew up in that wonderful decade of alternative rock and Presidential Blow Jobs. Perhaps Midway took stock of where the market was going and decided to go Full Id with this masterpiece of schlock. It's a dystopian rail shooter in the style of "Area: 51", and there are many reasons to love this game:
-It starts with someone yelling at you "Wake up! The Revolution has begun! Generation X is in full effect!" Totally awesome!
-FM rock penetrates this dimension. Like Skynet transmitting loops of FM radio wave emissions. In the game, sprites of Aerosmith perform looped karaoke segments while 90's Playboy bikini models loop-dance to the music. Despite all the rampant sexism in this game you cannot actually kill any of women, which is nice.
-You're fighting 90s Post-apocalyptic police, rollerblading mercenaries, mutant mad scientists, and shuriken-throwing Power Rangers-style ninjas all dressed like silly "Batman and Robin" rejects for you to shoot at, resulting in fountains of 16-bit blood. Also you fight giant skulls made of green slime.
-The cage dancers in pink bikinis will give you a kiss and say "You're my hero!" if you free them. This is right before you completely destroy the club's PA system, but Aerosmith doesn't care, they keep playing! At least up until being interrupted by dystopian dictator-slash-fetishist Mistress Helga, who points her finger at you and pouts "Stop this now if you don't want to deal with me!" like an upset middle school teacher. She has a Bettie Page haircut, a whip, and a hilarious British accent.
One of the coolest moments in any videogame ever.
-Steven Tyler has the ability to come out of his TV set and throw you the keys to his Lamborghini. In the first of many laughable cutscenes he tells you "Remember, Music is the Weapon." While in his dressing room you can shoot out beer and liquor bottles and destroy his scented candles while his song "Eat the Rich" plays on the soundtrack. Isn't it ironic.
-In the first level you catch him making out with a groupie and this is especially funny since Steven Tyler was married at the time this game came out. And he had 3 kids, one of whom turned out to play Arwen, daughter of Elrond and Celebrían in "The Lord of the Rings".
-You shoot CDs and Laserdiscs as weapons, so Steven Tyler wasn't lying when he talked to you before throwing you car keys from inside a TV screen.
-Joe Perry flies up to the moon on a rocket powered guitar.
-A loop of the bass line to "Sweet Emotion" is really some of the coolest between level music ever. While it plays, you hear the finest vintage modem noise and 'Hack into the system' to find out how much collateral you've caused. Rescued hostages may pop up to kiss and tell you, "You're the best!"
-All of the band members pop up on your Lamborghini's Interactive CD-Video player between missions to advance the ridiculous story. They are all pretty funny and the nonsense they babble makes it seem like they are all on different kinds of drugs. For more on their involvement with the game, Youtube has a four-part Making of Revolution X that opens with a shot of an Aerosmith tattoo on some girl's ass.
-You have to destroy a schoolbus that was converted to a tank. It's at a Middle East compound where buxom 90s babes in cutoffs work sledgehammers in a desert junkyard of arcade games, busted TVs, and guitars on fire. Tyler can't resist an Alice Cooper shout out, and shouts "School's out! Forever!"
-During the course of the game he also tries channeling James Brown to shout "Let's go!", "Don't give up!", "Nice shot!", "That's powerful stuff!", "Now you've got protection!", "I feel good!" and "Toasty!" (in homage to "Mortal Kombat 2"). Every time someone says something in this game it is hilarious.
Helga's No No's
-Head Mistress Helga appears on a huge Matrix-sized stack of TVs in the last level, commanding that "You will obey!" and shouting "How dare you!" and barking sexy as you shoot out the screens. This HS teacher-style dominatrix with X-treme attitude is teenage frustration incarnate. She is portrayed by Kerri Hoskins, who was a cheerleader in "NBA Jam" and Sonya Blade in "Mortal Kombat 3".
-If you win the game, finding all of the members of Aerosmith hidden throughout, you get to see them play "Walk This Way". You then go to hang out backstage, where Steven Tyler holds out his arms and beautiful women instinctively flock to him like the salmon of Capistrano.
As far as gameplay goes, it gets old shooting the bosses for as long as you have to, but the surreal "Mortal Kombat"-style atmosphere really enhances your journey into Alternate History 199X. You can shoot out pretty much anything anywhere, the screen often blossoming into cascades of animated shattering glass.
I really liked the challenge of the Middle East level, where you have to destroy a SchoolBusTank and have to speed up and slow down to catch it because you're driving alongside. Alas, if you see a "Revolution X" arcade artifact glowing in real life like some undead specter, and you want to beat, it be prepared to loose a lot of money. The level bosses are particularly gratuitous, and it is at these sections where "Revolution X" literally robs you at gunpoint.
Still, it is good to have all this at your fingertips, what with emulators and all. Do yourself a favor if you want to check this game out and try and get the arcade version. MAME plays it. It makes me want to go back in time and tell my 13-year-old self about the future, where you can play any arcade ultraviolence ever made with infinite quarters and without leaving your home.