Give My Regards To Broad Street is a 1984 musical drama starring Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. Macca had loved doing films with the Beatles and had a drawer full of his own scripts. He spent $9m on this box office horror show, recouping under $2m. Some girls were reported to have screamed in the cinema when Paul made his first appearance in the film, but most Beatles fans were now older and uninterested (a fanzine review of the time calls it a “wankfest” and George Harrison agreed. He’d refused to take part, telling Paul and Ringo he couldn’t see the point of recreating what they’d already done in the ’60s).

So here’s Abbey Road, which actually matches up with where you’d find it in London on the map. The makers claimed there were over 900 screens of the capital in this game. 

The story hangs loosely around trying to find some missing album master tapes. An accompanying album was inevitable, but Paul had also been turned on to computer games by David Bowie. Argus Software won the rights to make the  mop top’s script into something fun for the Speccy and C64. Film pre production was in 1982/3, so it’s difficult to overstate how cool an idea this was: David Crane hadn’t even made C64 Ghostbusters yet.

The game takes place after the action of the film. Spoiler: the master tapes were on a train platform bench and the “villain” they thought had stolen them was actually trapped in a nearby toilet (Shakespeare – Ed). Except…there’s still one missing track, which is where you take control of your Paul McCartney sprite.  The missing song was supposed to be the lead single from the album, so you need to go around London finding your band members and everyone else who was at the studio to help piece the song back together. 

If you find  a band member, you get a  bit of the missing tune. It can be hard to find people, though,  and super annoying if you crash your car and get sent back to the start of the map.

You spend most of the  game in a car navigating a top down map of London which is actually terrifically accurate (reviews of the time said you’d find the game easier if you know the city well). Using your “car computer” and clues in the manual, you have to grab the band members as they emerge from Tube stations. Every person you find equals a small piece of music. Get all seven pieces and you can drive off to the recording studio to assemble the song again. In a brutal twist, should you fail in the time limit some bootleggers will publish the original song and you’re  reduced to busking to pay off the recording bill. That isn’t the only bit of comedy in the game: your biggest enemies are traffic wardens, who’ll give you a ticket if you park outside the Tube station for too long.

Commodore Format‘s 1991 feature remembers Broad Street as “a…solid, well playable game…with a map of London that could come in handy if you find yourself without one but do happen to be carrying your C64”. Reviews back at the time of release were less kind with ZZAP! 64’s Gary  Penn calling it a “strange blend of strategy,  luck and aforethought”, identifying the slog it becomes if people aren’t where you expect them to be. The Wings’ song Band On The Run grates throughout, too, in that clunky fashion very early Commodore 64 music tended to. 

And  that’s the game’s  biggest problem, really: it’s a nice idea but it was made long before anybody knew how to get the most out of our beloved computer. The ‘cut scenes’ to Tube stations are nice, but otherwise the graphics are perfunctory. You’ll turn the sound down within  a minute n’all. But there’s something here: perhaps it’s the neat scanner and the map of London that’s fun to navigate, even if just for a  little while. It’s a bit of gaming history, no doubt, and worth at least  one load. Critics say the Broad Street side projects were self indulgent; kudos to Paul, we say, for trying something different. Unlike the film, the game made some money. But like anything worth a look, that was never the point. CF