Prince, like many creative geniuses, was a guy who found himself going in many directions at once. It’s the same story as Kanye West’s multimedia company, Will Oldham’s acting career, and, erm, Keanu Reeves’ grunge band. However, nobody was quite as successful in diversifying their output as Prince. The man is a legitimate powerhouse when it comes to aesthetics, sound, poetry, and the overall ability to sell not just a record but an entire overarching package. The dude managed to have a number one album and a number one film at the same time. I think of a thousand brooding artists who wish they could say that.
You know all that, though. Yes, Prince rules. However, you probably don’t know that in 1994 Prince put out a videogame. It’s hilariously called Prince Interactive. Even in the most transparent of whimsical cash-ins, he couldn’t help but make the name a little posh.
Prince Interactive arrived right around the time Myst was sweeping the nation. Myst was a true watershed moment for videogames, borrowing the language established by classic adventures like King’s Quest and the creative renaissance of 3D to essentially build a tight, touchable slideshow where you solve puzzles and slowly uncover the secrets of a mysterious island. It was a very serious game, the sort of thing that entranced grown-ups who had absolutely no other context for the industry. Naturally Prince Interactive is basically a Myst clone. You walk around Paisley Park, solve puzzles, and eventually fill out the fragments of the Prince symbol.
According to lore, the CD-ROM contained the game, as well as a handful of Prince songs which we imagine were presented in gloriously early ‘90s low-bit fuzz. Two of those tracks were previously unreleased, “Interactive” and “Endorphin Machine,” which makes sense considering that over the course of his career The Purple One probably wrote over a billion songs. You could also access interviews with people like George Clinton, Little Richard and Miles Davis. Remember, this was back in the day where a CD-ROM was treated like a multifaceted platform. Developers would stuff as much as they possibly could on those things. You’d also get a temporary tattoo of the symbol in every box.
Prince Interactive is unfortunately kind of buried. I mean, I can still find Michael Jackson Moonwalker arcade cabinets in the wild, but there’s no Let’s Plays or specific coverage on YouTube, and it’s hard to find any archival torrents. That’s a bummer. If anyone out there happens to have an ancient copy, please upload it and show the world. Sure, Prince’s lawyers will probably scrape it off the internet almost immediately, but we’re all feeling particularly bummed right now, and I kind of want to see every weird, fascinating thing that that man put his name on, okay?
Luke Winkie is a writer living in Austin, TX. Follow him on Twitter at @luke_winkie.