- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 23, 2006

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

Heroes on the Web

“Everyone’s Hero,” currently in theaters, delivers an animated lesson in perseverance for children of all ages. Brought to the silver screen with directorial help from the late Christopher Reeve, the film tells the story of a die-hard baseball fan named Yankee Irving in search of a bat stolen from Babe Ruth.

A dynamic Web site from 20th Century Fox (www.everyoneshero.com/ flash/intro.html) complements the film.

Visitors to the site are aurally and visually prompted to take a virtual trip with the young hero, who goes from New York City to Chicago to catch the thief. Hot spots found at every location throughout the journey hold dialogue snippets; music and sound effects; and colorful, computer-generated animation in the form of clips and static imagery.

Hot spots link to stickers, book covers, buddy icons and T-shirt iron-on designs that can be downloaded, as well as Screwie’s Baseball Trivia. The multiple-choice questions are informational nuggets about everything from when Cracker Jack was introduced to the game to the type of pitch not allowed in baseball.

As viewers explore environments from the film, they also can go on a quest to find six virtual trading cards they can e-mail to friends. One side of each card offers an image of the film, while the other has a multiple-choice question about baseball. Those who collect all of the cards on-screen can download a 30-megabyte souvenir kit loaded with more printables.

In addition to the trip portion of the site, visitors will find more traditional sections of information on the characters in the film, a media gallery, production notes, partners and, of course, games.

A quartet of challenges is presented, including a classic Concentration-type puzzler called Screwie’s Memory Mixup; Hero Mahjong, based on the Chinese tile game (if 500,000 folks play, a donation will be made to the Christopher Reeve Foundation); and Blast Ball, which leads to the Web site of one of the film’s partners.

Found at the Wrigley-fueled destination Candystand (www.candy stand.com), Blast Ball has a player control Yankee as he hits pitches thrown by his pal Marti Brewster at specific targets on a sandlot field. Those who last nine innings can unlock a Grandslam bonus level.

Candystand also is home to an eclectic mix of more than 50 free online games, such as bowling, video poker, darts, dodge ball, mini golf, snowboarding and trivia, all broken into six easy-to-navigate categories.

Battlestar fever

Fans of the latest and greatest version of “Battlestar Galactica” can get a taste of the drama’s third season through the Sci-Fi Channel’s Web site (www.scifi.com/battlestar/), which contains 10 exclusive multiminute webisodes leading up to the Oct. 6 debut of the new season.

Webisodes load every Tuesday and Thursday through a stand-alone player to reveal the efforts of the resistance against the dangerous Cylons who are holding nearly all that is left of humanity on the inhabitable planet dubbed New Caprica.

While at the site, visitors also can watch the full episode “Scar” (a dandy about an unstoppable Cylon raider ship), plenty of behind-the-scenes video blogs and deleted scenes, and hear MP3 episode commentaries with series “reimagineer” Ronald D. Moore.

Additionally, a resource devoted to the show’s ships is a multimedia spectacle of encyclopedic text entries of 12 craft with photographs, video-on-demand snippets and 360-degree views. A separate virtual tour of Galactica’s command information center includes a look at eight areas of the most important part of the vessel.

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 e-mail (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 www.washingtontimes.com/family times/romperroom.htm.

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