- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 1, 2006

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

Virtual Cars

Disney and Pixar Animation Studios’ “Cars” raced to the top of the box-office charts a few weeks ago, but its official Web site (www.disney.go.com/disney pictures/cars/) was sputtering because of a lack of completed content.

All is well now, however, at the film’s place on the information superhighway, and families will find a souped-up selection of multimedia activities to extend the film experience.

Visitors must click to enter a vehicle showroom to access the site, which pops up as Sheryl Crow’s tune “Real Gone” plays and skidding tires are heard in the background.

Automobile lovers will want first to scroll about in the Showroom or look to the Models section for background information on 14 of the vehicles featured in the movie. Each slick “Cars” character gets its own photo gallery, 360-degree click-and-drag option, video clip, portrait, trading cards, specification text boxes, downloads such as wallpapers, and a biography on the voice behind the mean machine.

However, the section not to be missed is Test Drive Games, which offers seven ways to enjoy the film actively. An interactive poster begins the fun as the visitor clicks on parts of the artwork to zoom in on areas and cars to hear from some of the characters. Next, Ramone’s Coloring Book gives artists a chance to shine online as they apply a customized paint job to some line-art cars.

The pure games component of the section does not disappoint, with a standard Concentration-like challenge called Matters Memory Game, or players can stop by either Flo’s V-8 Cafe to fill up gas cans to dump into a tank as quickly as possible or Luigi’s Tire Shop to catch rubber projectiles with a forklift and launch them onto a stack to collect points.

The best of the games, a 300-megabyte download for Macs or PCs of THQ’s Cars arcade racing extravaganza, has the player control Lightning McQueen as he drives a trio of laps against four computer-controlled characters from the film.

As if this were not enough to keep fans busy, hidden within the View Ads section of the site is a link to Target’s Cars Design Studio, which includes the ability to create and test-drive a vehicle, build a racetrack and drive on it as Lightning McQueen, send an e-card, and learn which “Cars” personality a visitor most resembles.

Remote access

Adam Sandler gets the chance once again to demonstrate his endearingly obnoxious qualities in the film “Click.” Through the use of a universal remote that enables his character to control his life, much comedic mayhem ensues — at least Sony Pictures hopes audiences think so.

The movie’s official Web site (www.sonypictures.com/movies/click/site/) is a frenzied and hilarious look at the film. An impressive swirling jumble of multimedia gives visitors access to most of the site’s content as they jump through visually and audio enhanced snapshots of Michael Newman’s universe. Focused on moments in the bedroom, swim meet, yard, living room and office, each area contains a variety of hot spots to find behind-the-scenes footage, downloads, sound clips and animations.

Additionally, a stop by the Click Arcade leads to a pair of amusing challenges. I got a pretty big chuckle out of Control Your Game, which requires that a player point a remote and target the film characters to fast-forward them out of an environment, and Commute Control, which uses the remote to pause and fast-forward pedestrians out of the way of Newman’s speeding vehicle.

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). Joseph also writes a Web exclusive column for the Washington Times Web site where he reviews educational software and family friendly video games. Check it out at https://www.washingtontimes.com/familytimes/romperroom.htm.

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