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Revenge of the License: Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street

The 1980s were such an innocent era for interactive entertainment, especially when it came to the home computer. Machines like the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum were all the rage, but nobody had quite figured out just what you were supposed to do with them yet. Since there wasn’t the Internet to rain hate and disgrace down on ideas before they bore rotting fruit, if you had an idea for a game, or even an idea for an idea for a game, somebody shoveled money at you. This was doubly true if your idea for a game was based on something famous. Naturally somebody green-lit a game based on a film written by Paul McCartney,  starring Paul McCartney as Paul McCartney, with music by Paul McCartney. The only thing wrong with Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street is everything.

{Note: my screen capture software was not cooperating for this article. All screenshots are from MobyGames.com}

Title Screen (ZX Spectrum version, from MobyGames)

Title Screen (ZX Spectrum version, from MobyGames)

The major difference between licensed titles today and licensed titles from thirty years ago is  simple: today’s licensed games are still made from properties considered to be crap by most gamers, but they’re aimed people who enjoy that particular brand of crap, and thus almost guaranteed to make money. People interested in seeing the newest Spider-Man film are also potential consumers for the latest Spider-Man game, and even if that game earns a mediocre score on Metacritic, there are enough Spider-Fans out there to ensure black ink on the balance sheets.

Finding a piece of the score (C64 version, from MobyGames)

Finding a piece of the score (C64 version, from MobyGames)

The problem with Give My Regards to Broad Street is that nobody liked the film to begin with except Paul McCartney, who no doubt enjoyed paying himself to record the soundtrack. With a solid 5.2 out of 10 rating on IMDB, this self-indulgent wank-fest by one ex-Beatle should be avoided by all but the most strident McCartney fan, and even those people should give thought to just buying the album instead. Where porn exists as nothing but a threadbare plot to haphazardly link raunchy sex scenes, Give My Regards to Broad Street exists as a threadbare plot to haphazardly link a succession of musical numbers. This is either one of the worst or one of the best ways yet conceived to misuse nine million dollars, I can’t decide. But what about the computer game? Is there anything to salvage from the cinematic-dross-to-software conversion? Could this be the rare masterpiece that rises above its source material and sets the high water mark for licensed titles? Is there a reason to splurge $50 and grab it off eBay?

Abbey Road Studios (C64 version)

Abbey Road Studios (C64 version, from MobyGames)

Do the worlds “hell no” mean anything to you? Even allowing for its age, even allowing that computer games were still in their infancy, even allowing for the idea someone out there might be a “Nicholas-Cage-in-The-Rock“-level Beatlemaniac and want one of everything associated with any one of the fab four, you’d still need to be a level sixty masochist to derive even rudimentary pleasure from Give My Regards to Broad Street. Naturally this is what attracted me to it in the first place.

Searching... (ZX Spectrum version, from MobyGames)

Searching… (ZX Spectrum version, from MobyGames)

BS casts you as music’s most inexplicably foolish artist, Paul McCartney. For no reason other than “it seemed like a good idea at the time…” you’ve given the master recordings for your latest single to an ex-convict who promptly absconded with the material. Had the game ended right there, you might have had something salvageable: you entrusted software developers who left you in the lurch and gave you nothing in return. (I learned this the hard way when I pre-ordered Duke Nukem Foreverin 1997.) But for whatever reason, Concept Software figured they had better deliver a game and so we got…erm…

Oops! (C64 version, from MobyGames)

Oops! (C64 version, from MobyGames)

Right, a top-down driving simulator where you are Paul McCartney behind the wheel of one of the only cars on the streets of London and still get into a number of accidents best defined by the following equation: {[Fast and Furious^(The French Connection + Ronin) x NASCAR]  – Star Wars} — math, bitches! McCartney in the film has a chauffeur, making this one time a movie would have been improved by including elements from its own licensed game. Why all this vehicular carnage? You need to gather your band-mates before they get home so you can re-record the missing session of “No More Lonely Nights” before midnight. Failure to do so will mean (for reasons known as “we give up”) control of McCartney’s recording empire will transition to his investors and Paul will be…reduced to busking on street corners? Shot by Ringo? The Walrus? I’ve no idea, work with me here.

Nobody at the station (C64 version, from MobyGames)

Nobody at the station (C64 version, from MobyGames)

Complicating the situation, every band member takes a different tube (read as ‘subway’ or ‘dick’ as your immaturity level dictates…huh huh…dictates…) home for the evening, and you have to figure out where you can intercept each one based on their personal habits as outlined in the instruction manual. Thus ensues a mad dash to arrive early enough at each station to snag your mate but not early enough that Traffic Wardens from the Parking Authority throw down on you for loitering. (Note to all developers: if any part of your game hinges on casting meter maids as adversaries, something has gone horribly wrong and your only hope is violent rebellion against management.)

Driving one of the 943 action-filled screens (ZX Spectrum version, from MobyGames)

Driving one of the 943 action-filled screens (ZX Spectrum version, from MobyGames)

Once you’ve reunited the band, it’s a mad dash back to Abbey Road studios to remix your song just in time to never want to hear an 8-bit rendition of “Band on the Run” again. And because this game can never get tired of kicking you in the nuts, the clock never stops ticking.

Something tells me this does not pass for entertainment in Britain, though I’m happy to be proven wrong if someone wants to tell me otherwise in the comments. Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street is a driving simulator minus the simulation, an adventure minus the compelling story, and a license which reaches a level of shame theoretically impossible outside of the Street Fighter franchise. The game’s tagline as seen in the ad below is, “When the music stops, the mystery begins…” But the only mystery here is why anyone would think a premise this awful was perfect for a computer game in the first place. Sadly without corresponding Robert Stack narration, this mystery will likely remain unsolved.

Paul McCartney's Give My Regards to Broadstreet

Michael Crisman

In 1979, Michael Crisman was mauled by a radioactive Gorgar pinball machine. After the wounds healed, doctors discovered his DNA had been re-coded. No longer fully human, Michael requires regular infusions of video games in order to continue living among you. If you see him, he can see you. Make no sudden moves, but instead bribe him with old issues of computer and video game magazines or a mint-in-box copy of Dragon Warrior IV. If he made you laugh, drop a tip in his jar at http://paypal.me/modernzorker (If he didn't make you laugh, donate to cure his compulsion to bang keyboards by sending an absurdly huge amount of money to his tip jar instead. That'll show him!)

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2 Responses to “Revenge of the License: Paul McCartney’s Give My Regards to Broad Street”

  1. Foteini Aravani says:

    Hi Michael,
    Great article!
    Do you might happen to know who has the copyright of this video game?
    As far as i know MindGames and Argus Perss are defunct. Any thoughts?
    All best,
    Foteini

  2. […] No filme, Paul interpreta a si próprio, assim como sua esposa Linda e o ex-beatle Ringo Starr, que tocou na trilha sonora – muito a contragosto, por sinal, pois temia comparações entre seu desempenho em 1984 e vinte anos antes, já que entre as músicas havia antigos sucessos dos Beatles misturados a inéditas. Barbara Bach, esposa de Ringo, fazia uma jornalista que entrevistaria Paul. No geral, um clipão tamanho-uber-maxi-super-família que costurava apresentações musicais em meio a um enredo sequelado. Vale dizer que Paul, então recentemente chegado aos 40 anos, tinha resolvido fazer tudo o que não havia feito antes na vida – e isso incluía pintar quadros e dirigir filmes, como ele explicou nesse papo aqui, ao jornalista americano Roger Ebert. […]

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