"Jump: The David Bowie Interactive CD-ROM" is a lot like David Bowie himself - an inconsistent mix of talent and posing from a man who lurks behind many masks.
An artistic chameleon, Bowie in his 22-year career has spanned everything from the androgynous glitter-rock persona Ziggy Stardust to a starring role in "The Elephant Man" on Broadway.
"Jump," made for Macintosh systems and selling for $49, is meant to make you a part of this exotic world, but Bowie, 47, doesn't give enough of himself to make the trip complete.
At least "Jump," created by a start-up company called Ion, looks good and sounds good. The CD-ROM's graphics are elegant, and the music tracks equal the quality of an audio CD.
After the opening credits, you enter an elevator and walk down the corridors of a gray office building matching the set for the music video "Jump They Say" from Bowie's recent album "Black Tie, White Noise."
You are given a choice of entering three rooms: the David Bowie suite, the video suite or Room 2901.
Inside the David Bowie suite is an office with desk, filing cabinet and chair. By clicking a camera sitting on the desk, you hear a 10-minute audio interview with shallow off-the-cuff commentary from Bowie, illustrated with photographs from a recording session. Clicking a briefcase on the floor launches an equally unsatisfying 10-minute video interview.
Room 2901 contains a telescope. Looking through the telescope, you enter rooms in a hotel across the street to watch four music videos: "Jump They Say," "Black Tie, White Noise," "Miracle Goodnight" and "You've Been Around." The videos play in a window filling an eighth of the screen and, with the double-speed CD-ROM drive on my Macintosh, looked almost as good as MTV.
Inexplicably, the hotel rooms contain little hidden surprises that seem to have wandered onto the disk from some children's game - click on a dog, for example, and it barks; click on a bowling trophy, and a bowling ball rolls across the floor.
The video suite puts you at the controls of a video-editing machine where you create a customized version of "Jump They Say." The creativity is strictly limited, however, to selecting from five video tracks playing simultaneously, designating one to display on the main screen.
"Don't be passive; be interactive," Ion declares on the "Jump" box. "The future of music is here - and it's in your hands."
Maybe, maybe not. I'm far from convinced we're all eagerly waiting to rearrange the work of our favorite artists. I want to lose myself inside the music, but I have no desire to change a single note of Mick Jagger's "Sympathy for the Devil," Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind" or even David Bowie's "Jump."