- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 2, 2005

Trio of multimedia treats

• Donkey Kong: Jungle Beat from Nintendo for GameCube, rated E, $54.99. Banana collecting becomes a rhythmic experience in a game combining a legendary gorilla, bountiful environments and a controller made for junior percussionists.

Using a pair of bongos and a cleverly hidden microphone, a single player maneuvers the legendary Donkey Kong through hostile kingdoms as he runs, swims, jumps, swings and stampedes around 40 areas.

Clapping and tapping lead to success as on-screen characters react to the player’s hand movements and drum strikes. The player executes moves such as punching a competing gorilla in the nose, flapping the wings of a Helibird to carry the ape to higher levels, pummeling gargantuan fruit, unleashing a sound wave to stun bats and throwing coconuts at pigs hidden in palm trees.

Jungle Beat does a marvelous job of honing hand-eye-coordination skills while being one of the slicker-looking, as well as more fun, family-friendly simulations out this year.

• Barbie Fairytopia, from Lions Gate Entertainment for DVD-enabled home entertainment centers and computers, rated G, $19.99. Mattel’s legendary fashion doll returns to the DVD medium as a determined mythical creature on a quest to save her flowering world.

Through a 75-minute computer-animated movie, girls learn of the plight of wingless fairy Elina, who goes in search of the guardian Azura after the evil Laverna curses her budding homeland.

In addition to the well-designed adventure, viewers get interactive menus introduced by Barbie; a set-top activity involving Elina’s favorite puff ball, Bibble, showing off its hottest disco, hip-hop and ballet dance moves; and a simple, but cute, Pixie matching game.

Parents also may wish to know, just in case their wallets are feeling a bit heavy, that Mattel offers a full line of Fairytopia toys (cleverly plugged in one of the DVD’s extras), including 12-inch-tall Barbie dolls ($15.99 each) that use fiber optics for an enlightening wing display.

mNBA Street V3 from Electronic Arts for GameCube, rated E, $49.99. Anyone who ever envisioned what it would be like for Wilt Chamberlain to challenge a short Italian plumber to a slam-dunk contest will appreciate EA’s latest extreme basketball game for the Nintendo system.

Outstanding player character models, a detailed court creator, dazzling trick shots and that spectacular slamming contest highlight this title, which offers 3-on-3 matchups that mix superstars and legends of the NBA.

Of course, gaming fans also will appreciate the ability to create their own player with 1,000 customizable assets, the lack of referees and the high-flying acrobatics that are required for victory with style.

However, controlling the cartoony antics of the trio of Nintendo legends — Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach — as they take on the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming will bring a smile to the face of any family member.

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