Each week, the Browser features some pop-culture places on the World Wide Web offering the coolest in free interactive sounds and action.
Dr. Henry Jones Jr. is back on the silver screen in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," and his presence on the Web is nearly as expansive as his travels. Surfers looking for a proper introduction to Indy's legacy should begin with the movie franchise's official Web site (www.indianajones.com).
Loading to the famed "Raiders March" from Academy Award-winning composer John Williams, the opening screen will cause pulse rates to pound as visitors see ornate temple blocks surrounding a mixture of multimedia and famed poses of the hero. For all of its visually stunning fanfare, content is surprisingly hollow, with a minimum of interactivity and nothing one might expect from the creative might of a Steven Spielberg-George Lucas production.
Obligatory content leads the way with plenty of information on the cast, filmmakers and story and clips of behind-the-scenes footage as well as photo galleries and the latest news.
Only Adventures holds a bit of a surprise. Each of the previous three films, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Temple of Doom" and "The Last Crusade," gets a lively cyber-presence with some clickable items that offer pop-up facts about the movies and more photos and clips.
The Community section is also worth visiting for its generous amount of fan-site-friendly components, such as banners, page skins, icons and a widget.
Still, the overall impact of the official Indiana Jones online effort is far too promotional, with little for the visitor to do. For a better experience, Hasbro, the official toy licensor of almost all things Indiana Jones, provides an interactive wonderland celebrating its action figures and role-playing items (www.hasbro.com/indianajones).
Its famed Action Figure Arena leads the way. A rotating carousel contains all of its 33/4-inch versions of characters representing some of the films. Each figure can be brought up to a pedestal and stop- motion life.
Next, the Games and Downloads section delivers three activities for the younger Indy fan. Besides a Print Shop that gives artists a drag-and-drop interface to design and print such creations as posters, stickers, bookmarks and invitations, visitors get two Indy-inspired slider puzzles and the intriguing Lost Temple of Akator Playset Challenge.
The location holds a set of four activities for the player. When he clicks on icons near parts of the toy temple, minigames are revealed that include placing the correct sequence of jewels in a door and controlling Indy as he ducks boulders.
Also, the Indy's Library section is worth a look for the educational content tied to seven artifacts found by the hero. A link to National Geographic's Web site (www.national geographic.com) offers the background on each relic.
Lego also offers a fun, complex experience with its Indiana Jones site (http://indianajones.lego.com) which highlights its selection of play sets devoted to the archaeologist's adventures.
Specifically, the Fun Zone harbors the Indiana Jones Museum. The location leads to multiple games that incorporate Lego-ized versions of key scenes from "Raiders of the Lost Ark." For example, the first level is a side-scrolling challenge that features a massive boulder that chases Indy. The player uses his mouse to guide Indy under such hazards as poison darts and stalactites while collecting gold relics during the surprisingly long obstacle course.
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, DC 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail to jszadkowski@washington times.com).