With more actors lending their names, voices, and visages to electronic games, CD-ROMs are beginning to resemble digital road shows, sort of like out-of-town appearances for former A-list actors. Two of the latest titles with familiar faces — C.E.O. (I-Motion), with James Coburn, and Frankenstein: Through the Eyes of the Monster (Amazing Media/Interplay), with Tim Curry — seem perfectly cast to meld multimedia and movieland.
In C.E.O., the silver-haired Coburn plays Dwight Owen Barnes, the head of a $100 billion conglomerate who dies in a plane crash. Coburn’s smug yet classy persona, perfected in such ’60s spy spoofs as Our Man Flint, works nicely here; if only he had more to do. Aside from an introductory video clip in which he lays out the game’s scenario (you’re competing for Coburn’s C.E.O. spot), the actor’s intermittent segments seem like afterthoughts.
The casting of Curry — transvestite Dr. Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show — as Dr. Frankenstein in Through the Eyes of the Monster, however, was a stroke of mad genius. He delivers a deliciously campy performance, even without fishnet stockings and platform shoes. Frankenstein surrounds you with hyperrealistic graphics as you play ol’ zipperneck himself, tromping through a skeleton-festooned castle, enduring Curry’s wisecracks, and poking around secret passageways for hints to your real identity (you’re not a monster, you’re just misunderstood). Eventually, though, Curry becomes just another digital prop, popping up occasionally to feed you clues.
Recruiting film stars to become multimedia performers allows actors to make extra cash and boost careers while breathing life into CD-ROMs, generating publicity and bigger audiences. Unfortunately, despite Coburn’s and Curry’s best efforts — and C.E.O.‘s intricate design and Frankenstein‘s playfulness — these games prove that the marriage of real actors and multimedia plots has not yet been consummated. C.E.O.: B