Die-hard Elvis fans who lack the time or money to make a pilgrimage to Memphis can now take a digital tour of Elvis’ home with Virtual Graceland (nu.millenia inc./Highway One).The bulk of this two-disc set is the tour itself, with the rooms and grounds of Elvis’ mansion reproduced via a wide variety of photographs. Wander around a 3D environment, listen to an audio guide, click on things to learn a little bit more about them (there are over 500 hotspots), and marvel at the paucity of Elvis’ good taste. In addition to the tour, Virtual Graceland includes a timeline styled as a guitar neck (move a pick up and down to look at Elvis in various stages of life, and to read notes about the corresponding state of his career), a bunch of brief interviews with people who knew the King, and some fragments of instantly-recognizable songs. There are occasional gems in the program, including home movies, alongside bits that are either simply absurd (Elvis practiced karate in his foyer – hard to believe, especially when you look at the size of the foyer) or absurdly lacking in humor (a discussion of his favorite foods – mostly fried – is conducted without so much as a snicker). The hotspots tell us that Elvis realized the carpet he’d installed in the Jungle Room’s ceiling had acoustic merits – but he realized this after the fact, having installed it for purely (shudder) aesthetic reasons. Virtual Graceland doesn’t seem to see the humor in this, just as it doesn’t seem to realize how amusing it is to watch Elvis morph from young and slim to middle-aged and fat (in the timeline/guitar neck section). Casual fans will want a little more intentional kitsch than the CD-ROM offers, but die-hard fans will find the tone of unadulterated reverence just about right.
– November 1996