As Atari celebrates its 50th year, why not recall the pinnacle of gameplay that was “Journey: Escape” – the vivid Atari 2600 title to match the band.
Believe it or not, Journey signed off on not one but two game versions of themselves in the early 80s – 1982’s Atari 2600 title from mighty developer Data Age, and then an unrelated 1983 arcade cabinet from Bally Midway that even had digitized band member images.
But the Data Age title was next-level even by the hit-or-miss standards of early home Atari titles. There’s so much to unpack here. Why does the band manager look like the Kool-Aid man? How are you even supposed to get through the game play? (It’s both brutally confusing and brutally difficult.) What… is the music that’s playing? (It isn’t Journey, because of course it’s not – they contribute only one recognizable snippet on the title screen, and then you’re in some very abstract Atari sound world.)
Behold. “Don’t Stop Bel– actually, yeah, stop.”
The advertising is as epic as you’d expect.
I’m reminded of this as our friend Adam Young actually played it, apparently, purchased from a grocery store. (Where else?) Amusingly, sounds like Adam only just discovered what was going on in the game from its Wikipedia page.
As the manual explains – sort of:
You’re on the road with Journey, one of the world’s hottest rock groups. A spectacular performance has just ended. Now it’s up to you to guide each Journey Band Member past hordes of Love-Crazed Groupies, Sneaky Photographers, and Shifty-Eyed Promoters to the safety of the Journey Escape Vehicle in time to make the next concert. Your mighty manager and loyal roadies are there to help, but the escape is up to you!
Mike Ryan for Uproxx went hands-on and did a breakdown of the game’s instructions:
We Bought And Played ‘Journey: Escape’ On Atari 2600, For Some Reason
Maybe you need a proper review before you pull this out of someone’s trash – erm, buy it? (via)
Sadly, this so far is not part of the Atari 50 anniversary collection coming to game platforms this fall. (That does look fascinating, though, with additional content like interviews – and a great look back at some seriously retro game music.)
There are rumors of surprises for that collection, though, like a hidden E.T. game, so – stay tuned.