When is the “best” time to release a game about overthrowing a tyrannical government with the help of Aerosmith? Ideally, never. But if it absolutely has to happen, the best time probably wasn’t 1995. See, Aerosmith’s “Get a Grip” album came out in spring 1993, and by that summer, the airwaves were being dominated by the song Cryin’. The video ran in a seemingly continuous loop on MTV that summer, with only occasional interruptions for Soul Asylum’s Runaway Train or Blind Melon’s No Rain. This is what was known to music video aficionados as “The worst summer of all time”. The Cryin‘ video was in such disproportionately heavy rotation that some wondered if Aerosmith didn’t actually own MTV. It went on to win the MTV Music Awards for Best Video and Best Group Video which, given its incessant airplay during the summer of ’93, wouldn’t have been too surprising if not for the fact that it won the award over a year later in September of 1994. By the time Revolution X reached the Genesis, Aerosmith had already unleashed two more videos from the album – Amazing, which was only mildly popular, and Crazy which, while not as badly overplayed as Cryin’, managed to once again make us wonder if the network’s playlists were being written out by Steven Tyler himself. Keep in mind that all this was going on right at the peak of the alt-rock craze, which was essentially about tuneless, uncharismatic bands that dressed like hobos who we listened to for no better reason than the simple fact that they weren’t Aerosmith.
So you want us to help you defeat an oppressive dictatorship? Sorry Aerosmith; but by 1995, we were already in the middle of trying to overthrow the tyranny of you.
Honestly, that “No Destroying Bridges rule doesn’t sound all that unreasonable.
A game about Aerosmith helping you overthrow the government is already a pretty shaky premise to base a game on, but here’s what I haven’t mentioned yet – that evil government is being led by a dominatrix. And that’s not some snarky comment on women in positions of authority like when a right-wing commentator calls Hillary Clinton a dominatrix. I mean a black-leather-clad, whips-and-handcuffs, pay-me-$200-an-hour-to-walk-on-you-with-high-heels dominatrix. And your weapon of choice to battle her and her army of identical, non-animated, yellow clad minions? A gun that shoots CDs. Why? Because music is a weapon, that’s why.
The game starts by informing us that the New Order Nation (NON), lead by Head Mistress Helga, has banned everything fun, and then seized everyone between the ages of 13 and 30; which seems kind of redundant, but does provide a good excuse for why a band made up guys in their mid-50’s is leading the revolution.
You are one of the last surviving free youth, and determined not to let all this oppression and dictatorship bum you out, you’re rushing to see Aerosmith perform at Club X, L.A.’s hottest nightspot. Since you are the last of their fans not to be imprisoned, this essentially means Aerosmith is playing the concert just for you. And not just any concert – an illegal concert in an illegal nightclub that has stayed in business, despite not having any customers, just so you could go see Aerosmith perform there. Is it your birthday or something?
Things only get worse from here, as NON raids the concert and kidnaps Aerosmith. You rush to Aerosmith’s dressing room, and after trashing it for no good reason, you get a secret message from Steven Tyler that it’s up to you to stop NON. Then you blow up the club (again for no good reason), and are told to commandeer the NON-helicopter and find Aerosmith’s car. Now, if “Go to the club” really meant blow it up, and “find Aerosmith” really meant destroy their dressing room, then you can imagine what “Commandeer the helicopter” means. So after a pitched battle in which you blow up the helicopter you were supposed to commandeer, you find Aerosmith’s car: a Lamborghini Diablo. Apparently all five members of the band prefer to cruise in a two-seater. Surprisingly, you don’t blow up the car. At this point, you are given a choice of missions, which you choose by (surprise!) shooting at pictures of them on the TV inside Aerosmith’s car.
Somehow, I don’t think this was what Joe Perry had in mind when they told him he was going to be in a video game.
The Genesis version suffers in a lot of ways compared to the arcade, but perhaps no more significantly than in terms of timing. When Revolution X hit the arcades in ’94, most people had already been suffering from non-stop exposure to Aerosmith videos for about a year and pretty much reached the upper limits of their tolerance. But a year later when it reached home consoles, the breaking point had long been passed, and people’s attitudes had shifted from “I’m getting a little tired of Aerosmith” to “Aerosmith had better not ever fucking cross the street in front of me.”
The most impressive thing about this is that Aerosmith wasn’t a one-hit wonder that everyone got tired of after a year. This isn’t Kris Kross Make My Video, or a game about Debbie Gibson. Aerosmith had been a successful, popular band for 20 years, yet Revolution X somehow managed to get released at the exact moment that we started to get sick of them. That’s incredible.
Rev X on the home console had a few other shortcomings compared to the arcade. Most significantly, it was a gun game without a gun, forcing you to instead move a crosshair around with the control pad. Due to hardware limitations, the game’s already terrible and largely inanimate digitized graphics had to be scaled back even further. Additionally, some of the real Aerosmith music included in the game, which was presumably one of its biggest selling points, was removed, and much of what remained was reduced in quality.
Graphics: Much like the Goo Goo Dolls, digitized graphics are one of those things that seemed like a much better idea in the mid-90s than they do now. Particularly when low-res console versions take what was already an ugly arcade game and turn it into something completely indecipherable. On the other hand, since you can’t really make out what anything is, it’s that much easier to pretend you’re spending the entire game peeing on Joe Perry’s face.
Sound: To give you a pretty good idea of the ineptitude involved in creating Revolution X, consider this: Of the four songs on the soundtrack, only two were included on Aerosmith’s Greatest Hits album. In other words, half of the soundtrack isn’t considered that good even by Aerosmith standards.
Control: While I understand the need to make this version of Revolution X gamepad-friendly, I’m shocked that they didn’t also include light gun support for the 6 of us who had bought the Sega Menacer.
After killing these guys, you get to shoot up the dressing room for a while. Aerosmith fans hate dressing rooms.
Final Verdict: Revolution X might just be the worst game ever made, and the only thing that kept it out of the top two spots was the fact that nearly identical versions were released on the super Nintendo and Playstation, which diluted its impact on the Genesis a little. Even so, on a scale of 1 to 100, Rev X gets a score of Satan clubbing baby seals.