The Top 20 Music Games of All Time

The history of rhythm gaming, from 'Simon' to 'Rock Band'
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music games rock scott steinberg
Bally Midway

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1983 – Journey

Behind The Music: Riding high on 1983’s No. 2-charting Frontiers album and with spirits undoubtedly buoyed by one of the music industry’s first sponsorship deals (with Budweiser), the San Francisco balladeers were tapped by coin-operated amusement staple Bally Midway to computerize their brand of corporate rock. The setup: controlling band members with black-and-white photos for heads, the player avoids or blasts glowing alien adversaries while collecting instruments to be rewarded with an animated concert complete with a cassette player-fueled rendition of "Separate Ways." Having been named one of Game Informer magazine’s Top 10 Worst Licensed Game Ideas Ever, we can only assume editors hadn’t played Data Age’s Journey Escape for Atari 2600—released a scant year earlier, this home console counterpart, also inexplicably set in space, saw you fighting intergalactic groupies and promoters with the help of roadies in hopes of reaching your insect-like spaceship. Seriously.

Why It Rocks: Purely for permanently setting the quality bar for hard-rockin’ videogame cash-ins somewhere around Mariana Trench level, a proud tradition that’s still alive and well today (Lady Gaga Revenge, anyone?).

Did You Know… Journey was the frst ever example of a band being given its own licensed videogame—previously, only pinball tables had played host to such branding. One might argue that the title paved the way for every other band appearance, or interactive tribute (e.g. Green Day: Rock Band, Guitar Hero: Aerosmith, etc.) since.

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