- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 17, 2007

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

The VH1 Online Arcade (http://games. vh1.com) pays tribute to the latest inductees of the VH1 Rock Honors program with some free games devoted to Ozzy Osbourne, Heart, Genesis and ZZ Top.

The cyber-stop’s Classic Arcade section offers retro challenges that Atari 2600 devotees would appreciate, beginning the homage simply enough with a trivia contest based on progressive rock gods.

In Genesis Genius, correct answers to multiple-choice or true/false questions on the band’s history elevate the three risers holding the band members — Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks — onstage. An incorrect answer causes the pixilated musicians to weep uncontrollably. The player gets five mistakes before it’s “Game over.”


Next, in Heart Attack, the action gets more intense as the player controls the Wilson sisters while they collect hearts and avoid some of their songs’ characters, including barracudas, babies and bad boys. Better yet, fact nuggets about the careers of the famed power-ballad rockers appear during the action.

Heavy metal icon Ozzy Osbourne gets the ultimate honor with a challenge based on the infamous incident when he bit off the head of a bird early in his solo career. In Ozzy’s Bat Bite, the player walks the singer around a side-scrolling arena and attempts to chomp the noggins off the creatures of the night and avoid munching on doves. It’s pretty mindless but a bit addictive.

My favorite, just for the strangeness factor, is ZZ Top’s Beard Brawl. The player must move the group into position to fend off an attack by cigarette butts, razors and blades using the famed swinging guitar move by Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill. Those unable to protect the band will see the trio’s facial hair disappear.

The final challenge, Quest for the Holy Grail of Rock, involves a scavenger hunt in photo-realistic panoramic environments. The player must click on a couple dozen objects associated with the honored performers’ song catalogs.

After working through the gantlet of games, visitors will appreciate the wide selection of other titles to enjoy. A couple worth mentioning, specifically for the PC, offer 60-minute free trials before players need to plunk down $19.95 for unlimited action.

First, in Downbeat, the player assumes the role of a hip 1980s DJ who must play some classic tunes to keep the crowd shaking. A stream of colored orbs fall on segments of a club’s floor loaded with like-colored dancers. To score points, the player must click on the orb just as it passes through a target in the like-colored segment, assisted by the song’s rhythm.

Instrumental grooves include Rick James’ “Super Freak,” Madness’ “Our House,” Devo’s “Whip It” and Madonna’s “Material Girl.” DJs eventually travel to New York, Los Angeles, Miami and London to ply their craft.

Next, Arcadia Remix provides 16 retro-style games that would have been seen in arcades or on home consoles in the early 1980s. Baseball, target shooting, a very basic Mario Bros.-type adventure and Pong all are part of the formula. The twist in this nostalgic gem is that the multitasker in the family eventually plays four games simultaneously. Somebody get me an aspirin.

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@washingtontimes.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.