From the ''Nixon'' CD-ROM to the upcoming Nintendo 64 videogame system, what's next in the digital world

By Bob Strauss
Updated February 23, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

Judging by some of the upcoming spring releases, 1996 may be the year that CD-ROM publishers successfully extend their multimedia tendrils into other forms of entertainment, especially movies and music. The key word here is successfully. While plenty of hit properties have been given the multimedia treatment in the past few years, you can count on the fingers of both hands the ones that have benefited from the transition. Here’s what’s in store for this season.

If Nixon’s three-plus hours weren’t enough, there’s always The ”Nixon” CD-ROM (due in April from Graphix Zone), which will include thousands of pages of historical material, such as the text of campaign speeches, Watergate transcripts, and, most tantalizingly, letters Nixon wrote to the newly widowed Jacqueline Kennedy and Elvis. There’s also extensive footage from the Oliver Stone film. The Die Hard Trilogy (May, Fox Interactive) takes players through the explosive movies as Detective John McClane. Dogfight fans may want to take flight with Top Gun: Fire at Will! (February, Spectrum HoloByte), a movie game that brings back Top Gun’s James Tolkan as Commander Hondo. And Alien Trilogy (Fox Interactive/Acclaim), a game based on the sci-fi horror film series, will be unleashed for PlayStation (February) as well as PC CD-ROM and Saturn (both in May).

A number of high-profile platters will cater to kids and cartoon fans, including Sesame Street: Get Set to Learn and Madeline’s Thinking Games (both in March, Creative Wonders) and Schoolhouse Rock: Math Rock (June, Creative Wonders). Disney’s Animated Storybook, Toy Story (May, Disney Interactive) follows the movie’s plot and provides ”edutaining” diversions, like a spin through the claw game with those adorable three-eyed alien dolls. The Simpsons Cartoon Studio (May, Fox Interactive) will bring home the art of Homeric animation. Toonstruck (June, Virgin Interactive) will bridge the worlds of live action and cartoon in a game starring Christopher Lloyd and featuring the voices of Dom DeLuise, Tim Curry, and David Ogden Stiers.

Trekkies might think they’ve gone to heaven — or even deep space — when they load up Star Trek Klingon (April, Simon & Schuster Interactive), an adventure/simulation directed by The Next Generation‘s Jonathan Frakes that promises to train users in the ”language, culture, and warfare of the Federation’s most lethal ally.” The Vulcan-eared crowd can also look forward to the 3-D animated game Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Harbinger (March, Viacom New Media), in which players join forces with the DS9 crew (voiced by Avery Brooks, Rene Auberjonois, and others) to combat deadly alien drones.

Over the next few months, music CD-ROMs will keep up a sprightly tempo. Rocker Peter Gabriel (Xplora 1) continues his journey into multimedia with Eve (June, Starwave), from the same company that produced exquisite Clint Eastwood and Sting retrospectives. The producers of Queensryche: Promised Land (March, EMI Records) immodestly describe it as ”Myst meets A Hard Day’s Night meets Being There.” Meanwhile, All Access: The Horde Festival (March, Philips Media) features performances by Sheryl Crow, Blues Traveler, and the Dave Matthews Band, plus interviews. It even includes recipes from the likes of Ziggy Marley.