- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 15, 2005

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

Surfing for Bones

Comic-book fans familiar with the exploits of Fone Bone, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone can control the characters in a new PC game, Bone: Out From Boneville (Windows XP and 2000 compatible), developed by Telltale Games.

Artist Jeff Smith’s award-winning, family-friendly sequential-art books feature three cousins who have been run out of Boneville and are lost in a terrifying valley. The books have sold more than 1 million copies worldwide, with translations in 15 languages.

The game brings the Bone boys to three-dimensional life with personalities, attitudes and likenesses very consistent with the comic books.

The action mixes role-playing elements such as exploring terrain, collecting items into an inventory backpack and interacting with characters with puzzles and arcade challenges.

Visitors to Telltale’s Web site (www.tell talegames.com) will find a link to download a 57-megabyte file of the entire game and get a free trial, which gives them just a taste of the fun.

Players control Fone, who converses with his pals on a mountain and then leads them away from a swarm of locusts. Within an over-the-top perspective, the player moves Fone right or left and jumps over obstacles while the slower cousins follow behind.

Just as Fone plunges over a cliff, he freezes in midair. Players also are left hanging and are asked to purchase a full version of the game for $19.99.

Telltale Games will be releasing the next adventure, Bone: The Great Cow Race, early next year.

Children looking for a bit more free action should stop by Scholastic’s online Bone area (www.scholastic. com/bone) to peruse some character introductions and take part in a pair of games.

Scholastic’s new Graphix imprint has colorized Mr. Smith’s Bone books and will be bringing the entire nine-volume set to stores. The first two volumes, covering the beginnings of the cousins’ troubles and the legendary cow races, are available ($9.99 each).

The site’s colorful front page highlights the cousins and gives visitors 11 clickable character icons to learn about the Red Dragon and Rat Creatures while reading about Phoney Bone, who once built an orphanage on a hazardous-waste landfill to avoid paying taxes.

In the Author section, the three famed exiles of Boneville “interview” Mr. Smith in illustrated form. When the visitor clicks on text boxes, more of the questions and answers are revealed.

The Games section includes Rat Creature Shoot Out, in which the player directs Fone Bone to throw snowballs and hit as many of the sneaky vermin as possible in two minutes. Another game, the Great Cow Race, has one or two players compete against the feisty Gran’Ma Ben in a clever challenge using Skee Ball to move opponents’ game pieces across a straight track.

KEXP Online

Seattle’s technologically progressive, nonprofit alternative FM radio station, KEXP, gives its online listeners an awesome array of access to some of its collection of 25,000 CDs, 10,000 LPs and hundreds of in-studio performances.

The site (www.kexp.org) first offers a two-week archive of its programming streamed through Windows Media, Real and MP3 players. Visitors using Windows Media Player 6.4 or later even can enjoy uncompressed audio data transmission at 1.4 Mbps, which exceeds FM broadcast quality.

Fifteen hosted shows cover musical tastes ranging from blues and roots rock (“Roadhouse”) to rockabilly and boogie blues (“Shake the Shack”) to the outer limits of jazz and sound art (“Sonarchy Radio”).

Organized alphabetically and by genre, date and specials, original in-studio performances include bands such as the Shins, Throwing Muses, Gang of Four, Sonic Youth, Flaming Lips, Interpol and the Posies. Peppered among the list of available acts are some one-minute bios, called History Spots, that touch upon the careers of such influential artists as James Brown, Ronnie Spector, Nirvana and Bob Mould.

The station recently has made available Podcasts featuring a mix of full songs from artists from the Pacific Northwest and around the world. Subscribers can download two volumes’ worth of music highlighting 28 tracks from bands such as the Purrs (www.thepurrs.com), Super Love Attack (www.superlove attack.com) and Amusement Parks on Fire from Nottingham, England (www.amusementparksonfire.com).

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 an e-mail message (jszadkowski@ washingtontimes.com).

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