Let's Replay: Revolution X

Release Date
16 June, 1994
Mega Drive
Rail Shooter
Single player
Midway, Rage Software
Midway, Acclaim

Steve Tyler will literally do anything for money. If you rang him and simply said the word “money”, you would hear him tuning up a guitar within two seconds flat. Given this information, it should come as no surprise that an Aerosmith game was developed and released in the mid 90’s. Revolution X is that game.

First released as an arcade cabinet, Revolution X was ported to a surprisingly large number of home consoles including SNES, Mega Drive, PC, Saturn and PS1. The game takes place during the dystopian hellscape that was 1996 (you remember those hideous days right? It was all John Major sex scandals and Oasis songs *shudders*). A shadowy new government has taken control of the entire globe. This militaristic junta have abused human rights, enslaved the populace, committed countless atrocities and declared open war on youth culture. However, it’s only when the government decide to kidnap Aerosmith that you, the player, whip out a gun and start to bring down the establishment. It’s up to you to stop the fiendish machinations of the ruling order and restore Steve Tyler’s boys to the stage that they truly deserve.

Revolution X plays like a rail shooter which features the unique concept of firing Aerosmith CDs at enemies. Back in the 90’s everyone believed that CDs were virtually indestructible, so it stands to reason that a CD could slice through an apache helicopter like butter. Regardless, aiming these discs of supreme destruction is a difficult task with a controller. Moving the cross-hairs into position feels like slipping on a puddle of your own urine, only much less fun. This is a shame because Revolution X is based entirely around this premise. Criminally, none of the console versions are compatible with a lightgun either, meaning that shooting things in a shooting game is a cumbersome chore. For a similar exercise in frustration, please listen to Just Push Play.

Down in front! You’re ruining the whole concert!

Graphically, Revolution X was poor for its time. The 32-bit era was fast approaching, but Revolution X was hardly cutting edge for a 16-bit game. Many of the game’s enemies only have two or three frames of animation. Most of the foot soldiers don’t have an obvious attack animation either, meaning that there is never a clear indicator that you are taking hits. Comparatively, if the few enemies that do throw something actually hit you, your health doesn’t seem to flinch. As a result, you’ll frequently lose lives for no apparent reason.

The game invites you to Walk This Way through several different locations, from LA to the Middle East to Wembley Stadium. You’ll battle evil foot soldiers around the world, but only by rescuing every member of the band will you achieve the Sweet Emotion of the game’s true ending, and you certainly Don’t Want To Miss A Thing now do you? Interestingly, after retrieving Aerosmith’s car, you are allowed to choose your next destination. The weirdest is the Amazon rainforest, which comes complete with racist caricatures of spear-chucking locals, babes being transformed into mutants, and a giant slime skull that throws its eyes at you. Yet, through all this madness, the highlight of the level is listening to a poor rendition of Love In An Elevator while riding in an elevator. It’s the game that just writes itself.

Despite all the negatives, Revolution X serves as an interesting example of the corporate video game tie-ins that existed during this era. I’d love to say Aerosmith sold out in a more spectacular fashion than when McDonalds made Mick & Mack: Global Gladiators. Or when 7-up made Cool Spot. While it is poor, even for a cash in, this game exemplifies the way that many companies treated video game development in the early 90’s. Let’s just display it in a museum so that our children will one day meander past during a particularly boring school trip, look at this game, and learn from the mistakes of their forefathers.

Play It For: Joe Perry’s confused performance when he has to say the line “They’re poisoning the water, you gotta stop them.”

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