- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 6, 2006

Each week, the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.

Carbonated flicks

Diet Pepsi’s Box Office promotion offers free flicks to drinkers of the bubbly beverage through the end of June. Visitors enter 10-digit codes found on Diet Pepsi’s various product lines at its official site (www.dietpepsiboxoffice.com), accumulating Movie Bucks that can be redeemed for tickets via Fandango (www.fandango.com) or Movie Cash (www.moviecash.com/).

An enthusiastic live-action woman stands behind a ticket counter on the site’s opening page, explaining the rules to visitors. When she’s not talking, she looks around, waves, smiles and appears to interact with the visitor in a fairly elaborate page design.

Film posters adorn the site and act as section heads. When clicked, they lead to the promotion specifics, a downloadable “Attack of the Popcorn” screen saver and a link to the Warner Bros. cyber-site, which features more than 100 movie Web sites, past and present, including “Starsky & Hutch,” “Terminator 3” and “Superman Returns.”

While at Warner Bros., a link to AOL’s In2TV site (http://television. aol.com/in2tv) offers an amazing selection of classic television shows, free to view. The latest list includes episodes of “Babylon 5,” “F Troop,” “Kung Fu,” “Perfect Strangers” and one of my favorite cartoons from the 1970s, the “New Adventures of Batman,” starring the voices of TV’s original Caped Crusader, Adam West and Burt Ward.

Back to the Diet Pepsi Box Office site, the final section, Film Fun, leads to an online version of the DVD-fueled board game Scene It? The player competes in a pair of timed rounds that feature the automatic roll of a numbered die and category die to move around a 21-square board and answer multiple-choice questions. Queries incorporate film scenes, vintage photos, dialogue snippets and celebrity trivia to present a fun pop-culture challenge.

Close Cyber-shaves

The concept of “advergaming” (interactive challenges sponsored by companies) leads to plenty of free fun for the surfer who isn’t bothered by product-awareness campaigns integrated into the on-screen action.

Kuma Reality Games jumps into the mix with a free first-person shooter centered around a fictional sports-style hunting show that will appeal to the twisted mature male in the family.

The sophomoric shenanigans of the Dino Hunters (www.dinohunters.net) is penned by former Maxim magazine Editor in Chief Keith Blanchard. It stars four dysfunctional stereotypes, including a Steve Irwin-like celebrity and Larry the Cable Guy nitwit along with a well-endowed, determined TV producer who travel through time in an RV to hunt prehistoric reptiles and shoot razor commercials.

Once a really large file is consumed and run by a PC with a broadband Internet connection and DirectX 9.0 installed, the player can access the first episode and use weapons including quad shotguns and rocket launchers, collect ammo, watch producer Candy Spencer battle beasts such as pteranodons and giant woolly mammoths.

Players quickly realize who is sponsoring the hunt as Schick’s Quattro razor ads are plastered all over the place, and extended mentions of the product are worked into the story.

The game goes above the common free fare thanks to the use of the same game engine used to power the PC hit Half-Life 2, special missions that encompass puzzle solving, and realistic graphics.

Upcoming episodes, free to download every Tuesday night, include run-ins with a triceratops and primordial fungi.

Have a cool site for the online multimedia masses? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@washington times.com). Joseph also writes a Web-exclusive column for the Washington Times Web site where he reviews educational software and family-friendly video games. Check it out at www.washingtontimes.com/family times/romperroom.htm.

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