An unusual variation on the vertically scrolling fly-over and shoot-em-up, this early Atari 2600 game still hits somewhat wide of the mark. The concept of this game is to navigate each of the five Journey band members through obstacles backstage to their tour vehicle without running out of money and before your timer runs out.

You control each of the band members in turn, identical small stick figures with brown skin, green shirts, and blue pants, as they race over a field of stars. You can move them in any direction on an eight pointed compass rose. Holding down the fire button will make your avatar move more quickly onscreen.

Many obstacles rush down to meet you. These consist of:
  • "Love-Crazed Groupies" (hearts with legs)
  • "Shifty-Eyed Promoters" (pink heads with hats, ties, and animated eyes)
  • "Sneaky Photographers" (flash bulbs)
  • "Stage Barriers" (large orange rectangles)
Each time you bump into one of these they will prevent you from moving for a moment as well as subtract some cash from your cache, except for the barriers, which only slow you down. The money is really less of an issue than the amount of time allotted. In the higher levels the obstacles swerve about unpredictably, but in the lower levels it's fairly easy to dodge them.

In addition to these are a couple of beneficial characters:
  • "Loyal Roadie" (blue alien stick figure): Brief invincibility from obstacles
  • "Mighty Manager" (large orange crowned head with legs): Invincibility from obstacles until the end of the level
  • "Journey's Scarab" (medium sized orange baby shape): Complete the level
Overall, an interesting and novel idea for a game. However, even for such an early game, the implementation is rather unexciting. Two difficulty levels are provided (controlled by the general use Atari switches), but it only took me two tries to beat the harder one. Less twitch-addicted players might find more playability here. The iconic graphics used for the obstacles are decent, but the helpful things plain look bizarre, as does the ultimate obstacle, making me wonder if the game designer had any specific band in mind when he put this together. At the same time, my classic rock loving-roommate was able to identify the backround music as the intro to "Don't Stop Believing." I was able to pick this game up from eBay for US$2.00 in August, 2002.

I wonder how much the members of the band were paid for the use of their names and the cover art from "Escape."

Date: 1982
Rarity: 2 Common+ / C
Model Number: 112-006
Programmer: N/A
Publisher: Data Age

Journey Escape instruction manual

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