Tommy: An Interactive Adventure

from Interplay and Kardana Productions

Or, How I spent the summer of `69

Rating: graphics 87, sound 87, interface 91, fun factor 94, overall 90

Ok, so I really didn't get to listen to Tommy the summer it was released, I was only 3 - sue me. But, when I did discover the Who just a few short months later, Tommy was, and still is, one of my all-time favorite albums (yes I own vinyl too). When I first got Tommy in the mail for review I couldn't wait to tear into it. Other than a few very minor disappointments, I really enjoyed Tommy.

Tommy For those of you living under a rock, Tommy was the first, and probably best, rock opera ever made. Given life by Pete Townshend, Tommy follows the life of a young boy who sees his father killed, and then learns to deal with it by disappearing into himself for nearly 20 years. Throughout the course of the opera, Tommy shows no outward sign of being anything other than deaf, dumb, and blind, until he finds his first pinball table.

The Cd itself isn't truly an adventure. It is more of a retrospective on Tommy, and Pete Townshend's ideas behind the story. The Cd presents the story of Tommy to you one scene at a time. As the video plays, three hot spots will appear. The first two will play another short video clip from the album, the movie, or the Broadway musical (yes it was also a musical). The final hot spot takes you to another screen where you are given the complete lyrics to that song, 3 different short sound clips from each of the venues Tommy has been played in, and a chance to listen to what Pete Townshend thought about that particular song. This was the best part of the whole Cd. Except for the shortness of the sound clips, the insight provided by Pete really adds quite a bit to the overall story of Tommy.

Tommy Another feature of Tommy is a time-line of the Who. From their beginnings to later years, you can scroll through their lives seeing video clips and getting even more information about the band (but that's a different group).

The interface is also very slick. There are no obtrusive buttons on the screen to take away from the presentation of the video. As the main video is playing, new images get overlaid for you to click on, taking you to the excerpts from the movie and the musical, with occasional shots of it being played live. To jump to another part of the opera, you can bring up a line of thumbnails to choose where you want to go. The whole thing is very intuitive and doesn't really require a manual at all. Tommy is very smooth and would excellent on a 17 inch monitor.

Tommy My only complaint about the whole Cd is the length. Tommy really feels like a good candidate as a DVD title. With up to 4.7 gig of space to play with, the whole movie can be placed on the Cd as a base to start the adventure from. I was always hoping to hear more music. Give me a DVD disk with the movie, and complete soundtrack on it, and I'll gladly pay $75 to have this one in my collection (of course I'd expect more commentary from Pete Townshend too).

As it stands, Tommy is a great title for fans of the Who, and Tommy in particular. If you really try hard, you can blow through the whole title in under two hours, but that's not the way it was meant to be viewed. Slip in the disk, turn down the lights, maybe grab a beer, and enjoy the Cd over a few nights and explore it completely. There is a lot of information there to go through. Now all I need to do is wait for the DVD version.

--- Steve Gerencser
--- krell@psyebr.com


System requirements: Windows 3.1 or 95, 8MB Ram, 486/25, SVGA, 2x Cd-Rom, Mouse.
Recommend: 4x Cd-Rom

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