- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 24, 2002

Wasting time can be an art form. In the case of one particular Web site, it's an art form that can cause surfers to waste an immense amount of time. One man has found a way to combine creative expression through the use of technology with immensely entertaining games to give families holed up from the winter cold a delightful way to spend an afternoon.

Orisinal

Site address: www.orisinal.com

Creator:

Designer Ferry Halim from Fresno, Calif., established the site in 2000.

Creator quotable:

"I created this site originally to feature some of my Flash experiments. … The goal is to put original Flash contents in the site. In the beginning, it was not intended to be an entertainment site. But along the way, it evolved into an entertainment site," Mr. Halim says.

Word from the Webwise:

Mr. Halim allows visitors to view his art portfolio, peek at his sketch pad and enjoy some of his masterpieces-in-the-making through a dazzling example of using current software and Web technologies to take full advantage of the Internet.

Using a pastel palette, beautiful background music and mostly child-friendly imagery, he has created a selection of unique challenges bound to catch the eye of any young-at-heart visitor.

A simple opening screen paints a collection of 33 icons that move and display titles when the mouse passes over them. Visitors will find a Japanese-anime-cartoon influence to Mr. Halim's work, including experiments in design, miscellaneous creations and the primary section, "Games."

Mr. Halim's simulations do not so much push the limits of video gaming as rely on familiar challenges and cute characters such as chicks, koalas and penguins with which he builds a gorgeous and addictive interactive landscape.

Take the case of a simple game titled "Hydrophobia." "Frogger" fans will understand the concept of moving a green amphibian across a screen with a series of jumps. Mr. Halim's twists, however, make the game a charming diversion.

The player must hop from lily pad to lily pad with a point and click of the mouse while an Ernie Kovacs-like soundtrack gently plays in the background. Of course, frogs must eat, and the goal is to catch flies by tapping the space bar and unleashing our hero's gargantuan tongue. The game goes on forever as long as the player keeps eating flies and does not fall into the water.

Some of the challenges use similar patterns, but Mr. Halim's bent sense of humor makes them fresh. In "Flight of the Season," players must use their mouse to fly around an ever-revolving land mass and click on houses so Santa can deliver presents. Select the house, hear a ding, and a heart appears over the residence, letting the player know a gift has reached its target.

The same format is used in "Milk the Cow," except the player must click as many times as possible on cows whizzing by (hearing milk hit the pail when successful) to collect calcium-rich liquid before time runs out.

Other Orisinal simulations almost defy explanation. I can't help but wonder, "Where did he come up with that?" every time I play "The Truth Is Up There." "X-Files" types use a video camera with a zoom lens to capture images of UFOs flying across the sky.

Players simply watch for a tiny ship, target it in the viewfinder and hit the record button, constantly zooming in to get a better image. Players who capture a great sequence are rewarded with cash from a tabloid newspaper.

Ease of use:

The interactive art uses the latest Flash plug-in and benefits most with a current browser.

Don't miss:

Although I thoroughly enjoyed looking at a few of Mr. Halim's "Miscellaneous" projects, such as controlling a hand to make a kite do tricks, I loved "Cranky Crabs," which features a little boy walking along a beach, avoiding beach balls by jumping over them and using a yo-yo to get rid of crustaceans infesting his area. Points accumulate for flicking the crabs and, as with all the games, high scores are ranked on the site.

Family activity:

Of course, the purpose of Orisinal is to expose the world to Mr. Halim's designs, so there isn't much in the way of off-line activities. One of his unique offerings, though, allows visitors to design a floral display and send it to a loved one.

The amateur florist first picks flowers from a garden, then sizes and places them in a ball-shaped vase. He then adds a pleasing background and a personal note and views his creation, with a soothing piano accompaniment, before sending it via e-mail. I bet any hardworking mom would appreciate receiving some pretty cyber-flowers from junior.

Cyber-sitter synopsis:

I will eat my mouse pad if younger children do not spend many a day returning to Mr. Halim's wonderful range of calming, creative simulations. No graphically violent games can be found on the site, but parents should be aware of "Swordsman," which involves a shogun warrior eliminating some persistent ninja. Victims appear red for an instant and then disappear.

Overall grade: A+

Remember: The information on the Internet is changing constantly. Please verify the advice on the sites before you act to be sure it's accurate and updated. Health sites, for example, should be discussed with your own physician.

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 ([email protected]).


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