10 1980s Pop Stars Who Had Their Own Home Computer/Video Game - Warped Factor - Words in the Key of Geek.

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10 1980s Pop Stars Who Had Their Own Home Computer/Video Game

How many of these did you own?
Before the consoles of the nineties and naughties popularised the play-along, sing-along & dance-along video games, like Guitar Hero, SingStar & Just Dance, all of which featured tracks from some of the biggest recording artists, a select few lucky pop stars featured in their own home computer/video game for some of the earliest platforms available. And several of these early 8-bit games could be quite extraordinary in design. Others, wellll?.... notsomuch! As we are about to find out.

How many of these 80s pop star video games did you play?...
1. Journey Escape
This 1982 Atari 2600 video game "stars" the rock band Journey, the group responsible for Don't Stop Believin', and is based on their 1981 album Escape, of which their most famous track was taken from. As the game's manual explained:
"You're on the road with Journey, one of the world's hottest rock groups. A spectacular performance has just ended. Now it's up to you to guide each Journey Band Member past hordes of Love-Crazed Groupies, Sneaky Photographers, and Shifty-Eyed Promoters to the safety of the Journey Escape Vehicle in time to make the next concert. Your mighty manager and loyal roadies are there to help, but the escape is up to you!"
Excited enough yet? If that didn't do it for you then how about this piece of sexy marketing...
OK, so maybe that poster's not that sexy, but we'll try and make up for it later on in this article. For now though, Journey Escape featured a version of Don't Stop Believin' as the title tune, and once you got underway the gameplay was a vertically scrolling, non-stop action affair, with the player moving side to side to avoid the aforementioned obstacles. For reasons unbeknown to anyone anywhere, Journey's manager, the one on hand to help, is inexplicably depicted as the Kool-Aid Man!
2. The Shaky Game
Don't worry, we've not reached the sexy times as yet. Although if you were into middle aged Welsh 1950s throwback acts in the early to mid 1980s then Shakin' Stevens was your man! In an attempt to shift more copies of his 1983 album The Bop Won't Stop, some canny marketing executive at Epic Records came up with the genius idea of commissioning a ZX Spectrum game to add to the end of the cassette tape release. After scoring successive top 3 albums with his three previous releases, surely this bonus addition, coupled with a pair of top 10 hits would do enough to repeat the trick for the Welsh rock 'n' roller?..
...It did not, with The Bop Won't Stop making just number 23 in the UK album chart. To be fair, The Shaky Game was aimed at a rather niche market. If we were to draw a two circle Venn diagram of Shakin Stevens fans and Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k owners, I suspect the overlap at the time was fairly minuscule. But those that loaded up The Shaky Game could enjoy some simple arcade style action which saw you try to navigate Shaky's car through a maze in an effort to reach 'This Ole House of Vampires' (honestly) whilst avoiding random bats before the fuel runs out. Classic stuff, eh?
3. Give My Regards To Broad Street
The 1984 Paul McCartney film Give My Regards To Broad Street was an absolute commercial flop and panned by critics everywhere. Probably the last thing anyone wanted was a computer game based on the film, yet one arrived the following year. I can only assume Argos Press Software had signed a contract to develop it before the movie itself was released and found themselves committed to the project.
Give My Regards To Broad Street takes the premise of the film and adapts it for the gameplay; the discovery that the master tape featuring the lead single from Paul McCartney's new album is missing. Unlike The Shaky Game and its single screen maze, here you get to travel around the streets of London, as depicted in a four-way scrolling play area (which varied in quality between the Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum versions). You are Paul McCartney, which in itself is a daunting task, and it's your job to track down members of your band and other people who were at the original studio session to help piece the track back together. You'd think that McCartney, with all his millions, could get someone to do that for him, no? The game package contained a fold out map of London and profiles of the characters which the player needs to use to predict where to find them, and a rather catchy chiptune version of Band On The Run accompanied the gameplay. In fact, Give My Regards To Broad Street the game might well have been a more enjoyable experience than the film.
4. Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Released in 1985, this was another game for the ZX Spectrum, and also available for the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC home computers. The Frankie Goes To Hollywood game featured chiptune versions of the band's biggest hits (depending on platform you might've heard Two Tribes, Relax and Welcome To The Pleasuredome, with some versions also including a 'free; live recording of Relax on a separate audio tape), but it was no quick musical tie-in. Oh, no! This was something entirely different.
Nothing, and I mean nothing, like the Frankie Goes To Hollywood game had been seen before. It's surreal at best, plain weird at other times. Taking place in a very colourful representation of Liverpool, the goal of the game is to become a 100% complete person and reach the Pleasuredome. Although we're still not at the promised sexy portion of the evening, one of the icons which needed to be filled (that's what she said) was a condom that represented sex! Along the way on your quest for completion, there was a murder to solved. Because, why not? And with clues like "The killer is an atheist", The Shaky Game this was not!
5. The Biz
Taking a more literal approach to the life of a pop star than that of Frankie Goes To Hollywood and their murder solving or Shaky and his late night vampire obsession, 1984's The Biz was like Football Manager for the frustrated pop aficionado. It's yet another release for the ZX Spectrum, and one which you may be thinking isn't actually about a pop star. You'd be sorta right as it's about trying to make it big in the music business and all the ups and downs one may face. But, The Biz was programmed by the lead-singer of Manchester based punk outfit The Freshies, Chris Sievey, and based on his experience in the industry, so technically it is about a pop star.
£5.95 got you a copy of the game itself plus "8 real life hit singles" by Chris and his band, including the classic 'I'm In Love With The Girl On The Virgin Manchester Megastore Checkout Desk' (which just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?). And not only that, the tape came with an interview with Frank Sidebottom and Chris Sievey. Yes, that Frank Sidebottom! And if you didn't know, Frank and Chris were one of the same (as we explored here).
6. The Thompson Twins Adventure
Based on the Thompson Twins' 1984 single Doctor! Doctor!, the plot of The Thompson Twins Adventure revolves around the efforts of the three band members (Tom Bailey, Alannah Currie, and Joe Leeway) to gather ingredients for the concoction of the titular doctor's potion. The game opens with the Thompson Twins at a beach location, from there they must travel through several areas including a forest and a cavern to search for ingredients. Once all have been collected, and they have located the doctor, he creates his potion and the game ends. Simple, no?
Another one for the ZX Spectrum, and more successful in execution than The Shaky Game, The Thompson Twins Adventure was actually given away free on a 7" flexidisc attached to the cover of the October 1984 issue of Computer and Video Games magazine, and was part of a competition. Basically if you completed the game and were the first person to send-in the contents of the Doctor's potion, you could win the grand prize: free tickets to an upcoming Thompson Twins concert with the opportunity to meet the musicians backstage afterwards!

Right! Hold on to your Y-fronts...
7. Samantha Fox Strip Poker
Now before you get your knickers in a twist - yes Sam Fox was best known as a Page 3 girl but she also scored a string of pop hits including Touch Me, Nothings Gonna Stop Me Now, and I Only Wanna Be With You. And she also had her own strip poker computer game. Because of course she did!
Available on the Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, MSX, and ZX Spectrum, Samantha Fox Strip Poker was one of the first erotic video games to include a real human being. I really don't think you need me to explain the rules of the game to you, but rest assured that a win meant you were 'rewarded' with crudely pixelated nudity. All for just £1.99. Bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase 'pocket-money games'.
8. Chiller
OK, we freely admit that this is not an official pop-star video game, but as our next title comes from Michael Jackson we thought it was worth including this 1984 gem from Mastertronic. From its cover through to its gameplay, Chiller, in its original form, did very little to disguise that it was strongly... influenced (yes, let's say influenced) by Michael Jackson's Thriller.
Complete with a chiptune rendition of a tune that sounds strikingly like Thriller, before the game was withdrawn from release and slightly reprogrammed to avoid any potential lawsuit, Chiller saw you take control of a character who, much like the King of Pop, doesn't know how to fill-up his car with fuel. As darkness falls across the land, and the midnight hour is close at hand, your ride breaks down in a remote location and your date is kidnapped. Naturally. It's now down to you to travel through a forest, a cinema, a ghetto and a graveyard, all filled with grizzly ghouls from every tomb, closing in to seal your doom. The goal is to rescue your girlfriend from the haunted mansion and then escort her back through the same territories.

As we say, not exactly an official pop star release, but lots of fun all the same. And if you only had £1.99 to spend on a game and it was this or Samantha Fox Strip Poker then, trust me, Chiller was the better choice.
9. Michael Jackson's Moonwalker
Shamone! Featuring more crotch grabbing than was ever gonna happen in a game of Samantha Fox Strip Poker, Michael Jackson's Moonwalker was released in 1989 to tie-in with the King of Pops 1988 cinematic endeavor. A variety of different games were developed by U.S. Gold and Sega (with some platforms released in 1990) for a plethora of home computers/game consoles, including the Sega Mega Drive/Genesis, Master System, the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, DOS, MSX, and of course one for the ZX Spectrum. Oh, you mighty little machine you.
Set to a soundtrack of synthesised versions of several of Michael Jackson's hits, such as Beat It and Smooth Criminal, whichever the platform and gameplay each release incorporated the personage of and were apparently co-developed by Jackson himself. The story, which is taken from the Moonwalker film, follows Michael, using various music and dance related abilities, on a quest to save kidnapped children from the hands of the evil "Mr. Big". Look above ↑, Michael's found a child. He'll be safe now.

Moving on.
10. Sabrina
Ah! We do spoil you, don't we? I suspect you weren't' expecting more sexy time to finish things off (that's what she said) but here's yet another risqué title for your 8-bit gaming pleasure. In 1988, Italian singer Sabrina scored a huge hit across Europe with her single Boys (Summertime Love). It would be hard to argue that the accompanying music video did not help those sales, as the artistic choice of having the well-endowed bikini-clad 19 year old Sabrina Salerno jumping up and down in a swimming pool certainly gave the song more screen-time on the likes of MTV Europe. Naturally, a ZX Spectrum game followed...
Playing as Sabrina, the goal was to help her get across town, from the airport to the TV studio for a performance of her hit song. On the way "ordinary people" try to stop you. And by ordinary people the game refers to housewives, senior citizens and priests. All of whom seem to have beef with how Sabrina is dressed and her ample form. Haters gonna hate, amiright?

Did you have any of these 1980s pop star games? Which was your favourite? Why not let us know in the comments below...

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