- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Here’s a look at some hardware and software that’s available:

Broken Saints: The Animated Comic Epic, from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment for DVD-enabled computers and home entertainment centers, $49.98.

The computer-constructed cinematic literature of creators Brooke Burgess, Andrew West and Ian Kirby is transformed from Web spectacle to home-entertainment epic in a four-disc DVD set loaded with extras.

The 24-chapter tale, which once resided on servers as a Flash-based presentation, runs more than 10 hours and mixes comic-book imagery, dialogue bubbles, a powerful musical score and the slightest bit of animation. It has been enhanced for the DVDs with voiceovers and updated artwork by Mr. West.

The story of an adopted female Fijian, Canadian software developer, Muslim extremist and Shinto priest who find one another caught in a massive conspiracy makes “The Matrix” and “X-Files” pale in comparison.

With five hours of bonus features spread across the discs, the set is a virtual pilgrimage for fans. Beautiful navigation menus lead to media interviews, lectures, commentary on all of the episodes, and computer-based viewing of the 12 chapters of the saga in its original format along with MP3s of Tobias Tinker’s score.

Artistic passion drips over every behind-the-scenes featurette and optional commentary track. The mastermind of the project, Mr. Burgess, unleashes torrents of story minutiae and tells of his personal battles to maintain artistic integrity as he sometimes displays an ego of a size that matches the magnitude of his creation.

Tekken: Dark Resurrection, from Bandai/Namco Games for PlayStation Portable, rated T for teen, $39.99.

The latest installment of the popular 3-D fighting game comes to Sony’s hand-held entertainment center and delivers a spectacular package of graphics and features for the combatant.

A selection of bikers, babes, wrestler wannabes, animals and demons take part in one-on-one, multiple-round matches set in slightly destructible, though always gorgeous, environments. The beautifully rendered characters explode from the 4-inch screen as the player uses a combination of buttons and pads to deliver martial-arts-style assaults.

Fight money acquired for success in story, battle and dojo matches can be used to customize the stable of more than 30 fighters down to the style of their glasses.

Extras such as minigames (bowling is a nice addition) and a practice mode are value-added desserts to top the virtual package.

However, add the ability of the player to use the PSP’s wireless connection to allow a fellow PSP owner to download enough of the title to take part in matches, and we have a powerful addition to the PSP lineup.

Street Fighter II Hyper Fighting, from Capcom for Xbox 360, Rated: Teen, 800 Microsoft Points (about $10). The future of video gaming is online as more players get more powerful home-entertainment consoles combined with speedy broadband connections.

Through a download within the Xbox Live Arcade (an online game-distribution service) and for slightly more than the price of a movie ticket, gamers can relive the early 1990s, when a two-dimensional fighting game dominated the mall arcade and helped define its genre.

One or two players can choose from the 12 original characters from the classic and enter one-on-one matches. An online component delivers multiple mode and ranking options.

Unfortunately, Street Fighter II looks pretty bad on today’s widescreen plasma screens, as the graphics cannot possibly hold up to those on current masterpieces. Still, a surprisingly large segment of the population is thrilled to take a video-game nostalgia trip, and Capcom and Microsoft give them a painless way to accomplish it.

Note: For those thinking about their first foray into the Xbox Live Arcade, a free, feature-limited version of Street Fighter II can be downloaded. Also, Microsoft points can be purchased online in bulk with a credit card or with prepaid cards at major electronics retailers.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected]).

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