- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 6, 2007

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

Quest in a Flash

Journey to the World of Lore through a free role-playing game that has been entertaining players for the past four years.

Artix Entertainment’s Flash- based challenge AdventureQuest (www.battleon.com) works on any current version of a browser and offers a two-dimensional, turn-based extravaganza that taps into the designs seen in the early Legend of Zelda days and influenced by Japanese comics and animation.

After a player registers to get a user name and password, he first, with the help of a warrior named Artix von Krieger, creates an avatar to go on adventures. Options include name, class (fighter, mage or rogue), facial features (25 types), hairstyle, skin tone and eyes.

My blue-skinned punk with fiery yellowish-orange hair and goggles was taken to the town of Battleon, the home of the Guardian Tower, where he was introduced to Twilly the Moglin, a helpful, long-of-the-ear creature practiced in the arts of magic and healing.

Next, the player gets his first encounter with an enemy whom he must defeat with the help of Artix. It is a powerful Drakel dragon that has come to town for a quick serving of frightened villager.

The pure turn-based, menu-driven battle simply requires a player to choose from six icons to perform such maneuvers as attacking with a weapon, casting a spell or adding defenses. The first fighter to reduce an opponent’s health meter to zero wins and receives experience points and gold.

Accumulated treasure can then be taken to Yulgar’s Inn to buy equipment that can be element-enhanced (fire, water, sun, wind, etc.) weapons, armor and shields or to the Mage Shop for spells and magical armaments.

Once a player gets the idea, he can go out alone or with the help of another character on dozens of quests to discover items, talk to other warriors and townsfolk and fight almost 1,000 monsters.

The PG-rated battles can get a bit repetitive. The graphics presentation, although pretty, will not win any next-generation awards. Also, a set number of slots are open to free registrants on the servers, so some may have to wait to get into the game.

The only way around this is to purchase a Guardian package (for a one-time charge of $19.99) which not only provides access to the game at any time but also includes bonuses such as other games, heavier armor, a dragon blade, 300 Z-Tokens to buy more equipment and the ability to build a weapon.

New adventures and features are added regularly. One of the latest involves the campaign in Frostval against Jack Frost and his minions of the Frost Kingdom. Players also will be able to begin building their own homes in the World of Lore.

While on the main AdventureQuest site, visitors who do not have the massive amount of time needed to enjoy the role-playing game can enjoy a pair of challenges.

First, in Firespawn, they ride a horse and take on the role of the dragon slayer Galanoth, who, armed with a crossbow, fights an enormous creature while ducking fireballs in the side-scrolling action.

Next, Undead Assault involves a brave Paladin who slaughters waves of living skeletons, slime and flying eyeballs to collect experience and gold. As he completes a level in the side-scroller, he can visit and shop and upgrade a weapon or add health.

Printable fame

Time Inc. and Hewlett Packard offer visitors to the Making the Cover Web site (www.makingthecover.com) a chance to become part of the news as they adorn the front of a well-known magazine.

Through a five-step process, visitors first choose from a cover design of Time, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated or People and find a suitable image of themselves or others (less than 2 megabytes) to upload to the site.

Next, they pick a background color, a headline (two are currently available) and either print (about 4- by 6-inches) or e-mail the masterpiece.

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 to [email protected]). 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/ familytimes/romperroom.htm.

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