- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 30, 2006

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

Web bender

Youngsters and oldsters caught up in Nickelodeon’s animated adventures of the 12-year-old boy Aang and his battles against the Fire Nation have a great way to supplement the show.

The official Avatar: The Last Air Bender site (www.nick.com/all_nick/tv_supersites/avatar2/) entrenches visitors in a world of martial arts and magical powers with an Asian flavor by offering information on the show and a selection of games and activities.

Visitors click on maps, parchment paper and symbols linked to sections loaded with color, sounds and epic environments. All of the main characters make appearances on the pages and use their special abilities tied to the four elements — air, fire, water and earth.

Challenges, found under Games, include moving Aang on a gridded board as he uses air currents to push fire at the water-bender Katara for her to extinguish blazes; a simple round of Hangman; and the multiplayer Fortress Fight, which has a pair of combatants take turns with a mouse to use a catapult and destroy each other’s headquarters.

The best Avatar contest is not found in the show’s area, however, but at Nick’s main Games section (www.nick.com/ games/index.jhtml), which boasts more than 375 challenges.

A single player controls the earth-bender Toph in Trials of the Serpent’s Pass as she creates a path for friends to cross a lake before a wave washes away the stones.

The popular Nick series also recently celebrated the airing of a one-hour special, “Avatar: Secret of the Fire Nation,” and its specific site (www.nick.com/all_nick/specials/secret) not only links to the original Avatar cyber-stop, but also adds some new interactive content.

Specifically, the Avatar Secret Scene Creator enables fans to use art tools as they mix text, sounds, pictures, backgrounds and animations into several-minute-long cartoons.

Junior Tex Averys get a pretty robust editing suite to develop their masterpieces as they place multimedia pieces on a layout area, script the scene and use a timeline to animate the elements.

Visitors also can e-mail their finished works to friends or to Nick.com and watch the 10 latest scenes — more than 100,000 have been created and submitted to date.

Fans who missed the broadcast of “Secret of the Fire Nation” can jump over to Turbo Nick (www.turbo nick.com), a broadband video player for Windows XP or 2000 systems, to watch the entire program, broken into two parts.

While in Turbo Nick, visitors also will find episodes of Nickelodeon standards such as “SpongeBob SquarePants,” “Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” and “The Ren and Stimpy Show” along with a series of videos tied to the active-children initiative Let’s Just Play.

The viewer also can configure the color and frame of the Turbo Nick player.

Virtual Viper Control

I forgot to mention in last week’s column that fans of the Sci-Fi Channel’s “Battlestar Galactica” can find a familiar game tied to a site used to promote the various DVD releases of the show from Universal Studios Home Entertainment (www.battlestar galacticadvd.com/game/).

The challenge has the player hiding from a computer opponent by secreting his fleet of seven ships on a battle grid and then choosing spaces on an opposing grid to attack the Cylon fleet. Yes, it is an online version of the classic game Battleship and comes embellished with sound effects and videos when a ship is destroyed. Players who successfully pursue the Cylons before being wiped out are granted access to exclusive clips from the second-season episode “Pegasus.”

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 e-mail ([email protected] 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.washington times.com/familytimes/romperroom.htm.

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