- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 6, 2004

Cartoon Network has become the hottest spot on cable television for viewers to enjoy the most cutting-edge cartoons.

One of its more popular programs, “Teen Titans,” is based on a superhero team from DC Comics. The series mixes Japanese-style animation with action and a bizarre sense of humor that appeals to both younger and older fans.

A cyber stop set up on the massive Cartoon Network’s Web site gives children the chance to learn about the primary characters, play games and watch some of their favorite costumed crime fighters in action.

Teen Titans

Site address:www.cartoonnetwork.com/tv_shows/titans/index.html

Creator: Turner Broadcasting System, based in Atlanta, developed and maintains the site.

Creator quotable: “Like each of the show-specific mini-sites we’ve created within CartoonNetwork.com, Teen Titans exists to serve as a destination for kids looking to fully immerse themselves in an all-Titans environment,” says Paul Condolora, vice president and general manager of Cartoon Network New Media.

“We know kids like to role-play, imagining themselves as one of the larger-than-life characters within Teen Titans. Our site provides an unequaled opportunity to learn more about each character, to play themed interactive games, to find out more about the popular theme song by Puffy AmiYumi — everything possible to enhance the television viewing experience,” he says.

Word from the Webwise: Five teenage superheroes — Robin the Boy Wonder; extraterrestrial Starfire; robotic Cyborg; mysterious Raven; and shape-shifting Beast Boy — battle aliens, powerful villains and each other every week while trying to deal with the tribulations of adolescence.

Cartoon Network’s complementary Web site completely immerses fans into the Titans’ cyber universe by using sounds, music and colorful graphics from the two-year-old series. Enjoying the proceedings requires a two-layer attack for visitors to find all of the interactive nuggets.

First, the opening screen leads to areas that provide short character biographies; an episode guide featuring 39 text-based synopses; and the full music video of Japanese recording artist Puffy AmiYumi performing the show’s theme song.

Additionally, collectors may appreciate a way to amass digital trading cards of the show and other Cartoon Network favorites — which requires submitting a valid e-mail address to get a free account.

The first site then provides a link to the second layer of fun, which is another stand-alone site titled Teen Titans Launch with more multimedia opportunities.

Within these very lively pages, visitors will find Robin showcasing files of the villains Jinx and Mammoth, a scrapbook of Starfire highlighting photos of the gang at work and play, a quiz from Beast Boy to let visitors find out what Titan personality they most resemble and a simulation that equates to Raven pulling off a card trick.

Ease of use: Visitors should have a high-speed connection, a newer PC with the latest browser versions (some of the features were not Mac-friendly) and the latest Macromedia Shockwave plug-in.

Surprisingly, any links to clips from the show did not work making the site useless for uninitiated surfers wondering what makes the cartoon so cool.

Don’t miss: Both sites feature the game Battle Blitz, which delivers a micro-sized, side scrolling fighting game. The solo player can choose from one of the five heroes and three difficulty levels.

Through keyboard commands, the player can battle Jinx, Gizmo, Mammoth, Cinderblock and Plasmus in the best of three rounds.

Family activity: Visitors get a quick tour of the heroes’ 10-story headquarters, Titan Towers (sans Raven’s room), via an animated mini-screen. They have the opportunity to construct a much smaller version of the building via a printout offering directions and pieces to cut and assemble.

Cybersitter synopsis: Children will not get an education from either site, but will find plenty of reasons to return. However, parents should occasionally supervise due to a Shop icon menacingly hovering around pages of the site showcasing a plethora of available products for sale.

Additionally, junior has full access to the Cartoon Network cyber highway, which contains pages on more intense shows such as “Mucha Lucha,” “Ed, Edd N Eddy” and “Courage the Cowardly Dog,” which they may not want their young ones being exposed to.

Overall grade: B+.

Remember: The information on the Internet is constantly changing. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it’s accurate.

Have a cool site for the family? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at Webwise, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (jszadkowski@ washingtontimes.com).

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