- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 24, 2005

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

Dead on the Web

Director Tim Burton’s latest ode to stop-motion animation and the foibles of romance arrived in theaters Friday with the release of “Corpse Bride.”

The film’s gothically gorgeous Web site (https://pdl.warnerbros. com/wbmovies/corpsebride/ flashsite/main_popup.html), which also can be found by clicking on the “Enter” sign at https://corpsebridemovie.warnerbros.com, takes visitors into a 19th-century Victorian village where Edgar Allan Poe and Ichabod Crane would feel right at home.

As menacing tree limbs sprout on the computer screen, they open to fantastical, macabre cinematic visions as visitors find icons to enter the Pub, Village Square, Elder’s Study, Victor’s Room and Music Room hidden among the decaying foliage.

Halloween-type sound effects and the eerie musical score of Danny Elfman play throughout the multimedia montages and scenic moments as visitors encounter information about the movie, typical downloadable content such as screen savers, “buddy” icons (to be attached to instant messages) and some deeply hidden interactive surprises.

Site navigation cleverly revolves around helping the characters perform actions. For example, help the tale’s misguided hero, Victor, free a butterfly from a glass cage by clicking on it, and a production notes page, presented on parchment paper, pops up.

Or, tease a skeletal dog with a ball until he finally grabs the toy, and a scroll appears containing an illustrated biography of the major dead characters. Drop the same ball into a mug held by a bony bar patron, and a group of AIM icons (buddy icons used in AOL instant messaging) is offered for the virtual taking.

Two creepy areas are especially rewarding to visitors.

A stop by the Pub offers an online game of darts. Players click and hold the mouse, moving Victor’s hand, which holds a dart. Release the mouse at the right moment to toss a total of nine darts at the board. Depending on the final score, visitors can unlock up to three trailers from “The Corpse Bride.”

In the Music Room, visitors have the chance to hear six complete songs from the film and can play a piano. The performer must use the mouse to click on keys and must match notes on a page of sheet music to the tune “In the Hall of the Mountain King.” Those who play well are rewarded with a collection of illustrated art that can be printed out.

Although the site does not overwhelm with free gaming opportunities or downloads, it is one of the best-looking and most beautifully designed film cyber-stops available.

Cyber-survey says

Developer, publisher and online gaming community hoster IWin Inc. (www.iwin.com) brings back one of America’s oldest game shows with a computer-friendly version of television’s “Family Feud.”

Players can download a full version of the 28-year-old “answers of the masses” challenge for $29.99. Prospective buyers can check out the game for free for 30 minutes before making a purchase. (Note: The free play time is enough to enjoy at least a couple of full games, depending on players’ answer speeds.)

IWin’s Family Feud features 2,200 questions and more than 10,000 answers. Players compete against an average score or against one another as they try to mind meld with the mythical “100 people surveyed” to guess how they replied to statements such as “Name something you need to bake a cake” or “Name something you shouldn’t squeeze too tightly.”

Competitors have 20 seconds to answer and find out if their typed response appears on the game board. (Slow typists and bad spellers will need a towel to wipe off the panic sweat.) Three wrong guesses allow the other team to steal the accumulated points.

The game is made up of four rounds, with winners moving on to the Fast Bucks round to try to win 20,000 points.

The virtual announcer doesn’t come close to living up to the gruff but lovable original host, Richard Dawson, nor will the graphic presentations amaze gamers. However, IWin’s Family Feud still retains its charm and will challenge all participants.

For those looking for other games, IWin has almost 100 to offer, including Monopoly, Risk and Boggle, with each allowing a free test before a purchase is made. For each game they try, players can earn PlayBucks that can be used to win prizes.

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 ([email protected]).

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