There was just an article in the NY Times about the online Prince Museum, which reminded me what a tech innovator the guy was. He utilized pixels for distribution and to enhance his brand, before people were talking about either of those things. I was also reminded that he made a CD-Rom-- took me a moment to even recall the name of those discs. This was 1994, during the first dot com era, when digital experimentation was the bomb, and there were lots of opportunities to write about the stuff and earn one's keep as a freelance writer. (sigh) When the disc came out, I talked an editor at SF Weekly to let me write a little review. (I probably wrote one for some other tech specific publication that existed back then.) I went back into my digital archives and found my take on (P) Interactive. I now wish I had the jewel-boxed thing to look at again-- probably sold it on Amazon somewhere along the line. ;-( Here's a logy video tour of the Myst-like game. Please note: Prince was the symbol back then, so that's what the P stands for, fyi. Enjoy.
Graphix Zone/Warner Brothers
P Interactive is a vanity project— and I don't mean Nasty Girls. It's an ego-trip and a half into the mind of a multi-media auteur. Who else but the mysterious and prolific composer, performer, film director and clothing designer could create a haunted Playboy mansion where digitized babes materialize from wall sconces, the waterbed love pit is hydraulic, and the soundtrack is packed with glam slam hits? This CD-Rom is an electronic invitation into a florid, princely labyrinth that's a decorator world unto itself: Gothic halls trimmed with golden Kama Sutra motifs, velvet curtains, and accessories by Headlines.
Everything here pertains to P, which is a surprisingly entertaining prospect. You'll wander alone through his well-appointed recording studio, his empty black-lit disco or his library where you'll find a comprehensive career history starting when his name was Prince and his hair was funky. Portraits of the artist blossom into video and song snippets or roast-like testimonials by colleagues like George Clinton (who calls him a “positive nuisance”). A click upon P's curiously shaped guitar unleashes an audible songbook of his musical virtuosity. There's even a treasure hunt game involving “the symbol” which unlocks an exclusive video peek (good luck getting to it). The glossy, controlled experience is as interactive as you'll ever get with this secretive star.
Finding your way through this lavender cyberworld can give you a royal headache, but there are plenty of redeeming nooks and crannies that deliver delectable bad taste treats— like mutating, pill-shaped microphones and P's head bobbing atop a metronome. It's in this arena that P Interactive is most appealing. While the sound and computer generated animations are impressively crisp, it's P's incomparable sensibility that goes far beyond the limits of technology.