Journey centers around the fictional adventures of the 80's rock band Journey, as they travel through space to retrieve their stolen instruments from Wild Alien Groupoids.
From the game:
"Wild alien groupoids have seized Journey's electro-supercharged instruments. Your mission is to help Journey retrieve their instruments from the dangers of the five galaxies. Trek through hazardous obstacles in quest of each instrument and then battle your way back to the scarab vehicle. When all five missions are completed, Journey begins a spectacular concert at the galactic stadium. Journey plays their hit song while Herbie guards the stage from frenzied groupoids who are trying to take the instruments."
Steve Perry, the ex-frontman/vocalist for Journey, has been quoted as saying that he thought the idea was "dumb", and that at the time, he was quite happy with the status the band had achieved, and didn't think they needed a video game.
This game was created at the peak of Journey's career, and it was thought they could ride the wave right into the arcade market. While not really that unique as a game, it did bring a couple of interesting ideas to the arcade environment. The first was the use of digitized images of the band within the game. Each band member was represented by a tiny little cartoon body, with a black and white digitized shot of their face for a head. There are a few different faces for each band member depending on the situation.
As well, the arcade cabinet contained a special looping tape of "Separate Ways", which would play during the final level, giving the impression that you were really hearing Journey play for a bunch of alien groupoids!
The game opens with a shot of the band getting into their "Scarab vehicle".
Players are then prompted with the main "level select" screen of the game. Each of the band members has their own level where they must retrieve their instrument of choice. There is no necessary order of accomplishing them, but all five levels must be successfully completed in order to advance to the final concert level.
Each of the five band member's levels have two parts.
Steve Smith - Drums
The screen is covered in several floating drums, all which start off red. As you bounce Steve off each one, they turn blue, and then disappear on the second bounce. In order to complete the first part, you must turn all the drums blue. You can also avoid the last drum and make all the other drums disappear for extra points, prior to turning the last drum blue.
Once you have turned the last drum blue, you rocket up to your drum set, and part two begins.
Steve sits behind his drums, and pressing your button causes him to shoot mystical space bullets downwards, which is good, as you have a number of what appear to be magic infinity symbols crisscrossing their way across the screen up towards you in order to kill you. You must get to the glowing line at the bottom in order to complete the level.
Neal Schon - Guitar
Neal has a jetpack, and in a lunar lander type fashion, he can thrust upwards or to either side. You must guide him through the space cavern without touching the walls/floor/ceiling and retrieve his guitar.
Now that he has his guitar back, he can shoot energy bullets, presumably using the power of ROCK. You must return him to the flashing line at the top of the stage (still avoiding walls, and also now mini scarabs) in order to complete the level. You can shoot the mini scarabs for extra points, or just haul ass back up top.
Steve Perry - Microphone
Steve starts at the top of the level, while his mic is at the bottom. In between? A whole pile of saloon doors that swing open and closed. You must time your movements to get through them without touching, and retrieve your mic at the bottom.
You once again must return to the top of the stage, only now all the saloon doors are closed and side-scrolling across the level. Luckily, you can use your mic to blast through them. Again, presuming there must be the power of ROCK! Once you return to the top, the level is complete.
Ross Valory - Bass Guitar
I know we're talking about Journey in space, but this level takes the cake as the weirdest. Ross starts at the bottom of the level, and there are a number of weird phallic trampoline platforms scattered around. You must bounce from platform to platform to reach your bass, which scrolls from side to side at the top of the level. The longer you remain on the platform, the higher it launches you.
Having retrieved his Bass, Ross must return to the bottom of the level, however, all of your friendly phallic launchpads have now become pillboxes, intent on destroying you. You can use your rock bullets to destroy them, or just haul ass back to the bottom to complete the level.
Jonathan Cain - Keyboard
Progress down the level while avoiding lasers in order to reach the keyboard.
Jonathan's keyboard is now imbued with the strength of melody energy, and he must use it to fire at the crisscrossing pink spheres determined to prevent him from returning to the top of the level.
Galactic Stadium Concert
Once you have successfully retrieved all five band members' instruments, you head off to the Galactic Stadium for your super space concert.
As a loop tape of "Separate Ways" actually plays inside the arcade cabinet, you control Herbie, a big fat bouncer and not a real person, and you can move from side to side in order to prevent the groupoids from getting into one of three doors along the bottom of the stage. Each groupoid you block nets you 250 points, and the stage continues until you fail. The groupoids then rush the stage, re-steal Journey's instruments, and the saga begins again!