2016 is shaping up to be quite a depressing year. There's so many icons we've lost and we're only a third of the way in. Last week saw the passing of a charismatic songwriter and performer who gave us many three-minute wonders to listen to. Prince has never struck a chord with me as much as David Bowie, but when he did he was damn good. Like Bowie, there was also an interactive CD-ROM in the early 90s...
Released to coincide with 1994's The Black Album, Prince Interactive (or O+> Interactive as the artist wanted it to be known as) is a strange celebration of the musician's life up until that point. Like David Bowie's Jump, there's music videos to view, a song to mix and a basic encyclopedia and discography, but there's also a goal too. The aim is to collect the pieces of the iconic Prince symbol and head back to what I believe to is your spaceship (surely it can't be anything else). It's not hard to complete, but whether you see it 'til the end all depends on how big a fan you are.
The game itself which naturally plays a lot like Myst, takes place in a haunted mansion of sorts. The layout is the same as the Prince glyph so it's not particularly big but the rooms are at least varied and good to look at. Each room holds different aspects of Prince's career, whether it be the recording studio, a music room or bedroom which is guarded by scantily clad women embossed on the door. There's also a virtual reality room and a hallway in outer space, so I doubt any of this comes from any real-world counterpart but you'll definitely encounter some memorable sights.
The only puzzles within the game consist of puttig cards in order to view one of four full-length music videos. The allure of videos on a CD-ROM has lost it's appeal now that we have YouTube, but it was quite something in 1994. There's also six complete songs too, some of which were previously unreleased. The box also boasts 52 song clips, 31 video clips and - somewhat inexplicably - 9 morphs (think Bjork's Hunter or Michael Jackson's Black & White music videos).
The biggest enjoyment I got out it is some of the weird things that you'll encounter. From the strangely hypnotic morphs to Prince's secret stash of S&M gear and the bizarre fixation of the word "come", the whole experience is more like a hallucinagenic trip than a game. Perhaps that was the entire purpose. If you want to see everything though, you might get frustrated. There's a strange logic to how everything works and is displayed, and your reward for clicking on that random framed painting is tenuously linked to the environment at best. Needless to say there's plenty of WTF momemts.
Like most releases in the multi-media CD-ROM genre, I find it difficult to recommend Prince Interactive as anything more than a short time waster yet after losing the man himself last week, it's also a fitting tribute to the strange career of one of the best songwriters pop music has ever known.
To download the game, follow the link below. This custom installer exclusive to The Collection Chamber uses DOSBox running Microsoft Windows 3.1 to get the game working on modern systems. Tested on Windows 10.
Prince Interactive is © Graphix Zone
The Black Album is © Warner Bros.Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me