- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 7, 2009

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia titles for the entire family:

Wonder World Amusement Park (for DS from Majesco Entertainment, $19.99) — A creepy puppet acts as a carnival master to give entrance to a world of minigames scattered through a theme park.

Unfortunately, a player will find more mediocrity than amusement as he first picks an unassuming young avatar whose detailed attributes are meaningless in the game. Then, through a first-person point of view and some Scooby-Doo-style sound effects, the gantlet begins. Playing games to win tickets unlocks six themed zones (from pirate to medieval to fantasy genres) and more than 30 midway-style games.

Sliding the stylus up on the DS touch screen works for most of the challenges, which include popping darts, shooting arrows at ogres, tossing bats at gravestones, multiple Skee-Ball platforms, and permutations of whack-a-mole and the crane game.

What terrified this parent was watching a determined 8-year-old collect enough tickets by winning a bumper car competition to unlock almost all of the parks and all of the games in under 40 minutes. Where’s the replay value?

I’d mention the multicard option for a pair of players to engage in four of the activities, but I doubt most owners of Wonder World Amusement Park will find another person who bought the game.

Cartoon Network Universe: Fusion Fall, Victory Pack (for PC with Microsoft XP or Vista operating systems and Intel-based Mac, Majesco Entertainment, $19.99) — A massively multiplayer online game starring a monumental crossover of colorful characters immerses tweens in a struggle to save the beloved Cartoon Network lands from a gooey green alien invasion.

Call it a junior version of World of Warcraft as a player customizes his own boy or girl avatar and teams up with cel-shaded, anime-styled stars, including an older Dexter, the Codename: Kids Next Door team, Ben Tennyson, Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls, in missions through 60 zones.

It will take a speedy and stable broadband connection for junior to fire up his favorite browser and take part in the action that incorporates role playing, monitored chats with other players, team missions, collecting fusion matter and battles using plenty of high-tech firepower against a wide assortment of creatures and evil clones.

It also will take six bucks a month to completely enjoy the adventure (or $14.95 for three months). Playing for free is an option, but only unlocks a small part of the game.

I would note that the three-dimensional characters and environments look great, and other than occasional sluggish load and response times, the experience was slick with top-notch graphics and cut scenes.

The mentioned Victory Pack is not much more than a couple of codes on a trading card, a basic strategy reference guide and a CD containing a link to the Fusion Fall Web site (www.fusionfall.com).

Players use the codes to get a four-month subscription to the game and unlock an exclusive “Ben 10” and “Dexter’s Laboratory” uniform and equipment set.

Parents of serious gamers won’t find the value in the Victory Pack and would better invest in a yearly plan ($49.95) for their offspring to economically enjoy the online pop-toon epic.

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