- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2005

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

Wolf bytes

Avoid suspicion, manipulate your friends and eliminate your enemies — congressional hearing or the basis for a new horror film directed by Jeff Wadlow? “Cry Wolf” attacks theaters on Friday and its official Web site (https://crywolfmovie. com/splash.html) leads visitors to a stylized, mouse-clicking montage of screams and visions of terror.

It also leads to a communication challenge where America Online Instant Messaging figures prominently as online players become one with the premise of the movie. Based directly on the plot, a group of surfers becomes either wolves or sheep and must work together to eliminate members of the opposite team.

Players first must sign up for a free AOL Instant Messaging account before they enter a virtual location populated by online players who congregate in elaborate chat areas where the action takes place.

An anonymous, automated Shepherd divides players into wolves and sheep, and the typing of text-based assumptions, accusations and deceptions begins.

The three-tiered, timed action first has the sheep chat about and identify a wolf during the Daytime phase by each dragging an icon of a suspect into the game’s interface. Of course, wolves can sneak in to confuse matters.

Next, a vote takes place in the Sudden Death phase to get rid of a possible wolf suspect.

Finally, the Nighttime phase allows the wolves to get their revenge by chatting and then eliminating a member of the sheep.

The Shepherd offers clues along the way and the equally uninformed players must use message trickery, logic and gut reactions to succeed.

The game ends when all of the wolves are eliminated or the sheep are outnumbered.

Those looking for more direction can watch a tutorial of the game, narrated by Mr. Wadlow, who clearly explains the “game of lies.”

Sweaty cyber dating

Axe, a maker of male grooming products, has teamed up with online game publisher WildTangent to deliver a free, seductive challenge. Mojo Master (www.mojo mastergame.com) overloads on machismo while humorously reflecting upon the current, sorry state of courtship.

The game is designed strictly for the sophomoric male 17 years old and older who spends more nights in front of computer than actually communicating face to face with other people. It presents the conundrum of trying to acquire phone numbers from a mix of bubbleheaded virtual babes stationed in various dating hot spots in U.S. cities.

After downloading and installing a 165 megabyte software file, the player is introduced to a surprisingly graphic-intense world that requires he carefully select from moves, monitor meters and get help from the all-knowing Seduction Compass to typecast and woo 100 women.

Girls are grouped into the five elements of Light, Fire, Earth, Ice and Shadow (e.g., Light represents fun-loving while Shadow represents Goth tendencies) that correspond to different types of physical and mental moves executed during any encounter.

A typical night for the player involves first selecting a male avatar complete with clothing and choices for bling. Of course, one must also choose from a selection of Axe Unlimited products — antiperspirant, body spray, deodorant and shower gel — that act as power-ups to help the player with his mission.

Next, the player stops by any of seven cities and 28 venues, such as a Chicago pool hall, and starts flirting with girls through a first-person perspective, choosing moves that then pop up on the screen resembling collectible trading cards. The player must keep his Mojo Meter from running out while attracting the girl by diminishing her Indifference Meter.

The key to success is using moves — ranging from performing one-handed push-ups to delivering the line “I meditate on peace and harmony” — that complement a lady’s mood based on the tips from the Seduction Compass.

The text-based language is a bit raunchy and loaded with double entendre but does not reach the point of being explicit.

What is a bit silly is the females who all look as if they were plucked from Maxim magazine and show their attraction with coy smiles often accompanied by jiggling. Heck, even 2005 Playboy Playmate Tiffany Fallon becomes fair game.

Music accompanies all of the encounters as players listen to a slew of tunes from up-and-coming bands such as Taylor Hollingsworth, Tree Thirteen and Thievery Corporation. Players can learn the name of the song being played and its artist by clicking on a note icon in the corner of the screen or by visiting the Mojo Master site and clicking on the extras area to find links to all of the musicians.

The cross-advertising multimedia potential combined with an often time-consuming and difficult but addictive game makes the Axe Unlimited cyber event a true test case for the power of promotion within the online world.

If Mojo Master reflects any of the ridiculous difficulties males have in getting a date, however, I sure am glad to be married because I could never stoop to this level of humiliation.

System requirements for the challenge include at least a Pentium III 800Mhz PC, with a Windows 98/ME/2000/XP system, a 3-D video card with 32MB of VRAM and an Internet connection.

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 an e-mail message (jszadkowski@washington times.com).

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