- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 25, 2009

Here’s an abbreviated look at some multimedia titles for everyone in the family.

Pirates: Duels on the High Seas (from O-Games USA, for the DS, $19.99) — Control pirate ships on a quest for the seven keys of the seven seas in this top-down action adventure.

A player selects from a trio of ships based on the game’s difficulty, “easy” gets a lumbering, nearly indestructible craft, while “hard” offers a speedy but vulnerable vessel, and then sets out in dangerous waters.

While maneuvering through locales such as Port Royal or the Bermuda Triangle, the player will battle other vessels, blockades, landlocked guns and the occasional leviathan and dragon with cannon, rockets and a flamethrower while collecting treasure and powerups.

Other than using the visuals on the dual screens (top for action, bottom for map and recourses), the DS’ other interactive charms are pretty much ignored.

Pirates steer with the directional pad and go forward or backward (yes, ships from the 18th century apparently had a reverse gear) with the shoulder triggers. An occasional tap with the stylus on icons around the bottom screen also will increase attributes such as speed and firepower.

Tapping into a bounty of wireless multiplayer options is mandatory. Skirmishes extend across 35 arenas with up to four other pirates, both through sharing a cartridge or with everyone owning the game.

Illustrated pirates pop in during breaks in the action to put players in the mind of Disney’s animated “Treasure Island” while an avalanche of “arrghs” and text on parchment helps set the tone for the tale.

The solo epic features more than 70 levels in easily saved nuggets, perfect for a road trip and interesting enough for the younger swashbuckler in the family.

The Munchables (from Namco Bandai Games for the Wii, $19.99) — If Sid and Marty Krofft developed a video game, I imagine it would not be far off from this bizarre platform puzzler. Get a load of this. A pair of digestive dynamos explore colorful, trippy islands to repel a hostile takeover by devouring a smorgasbord of talking fruits and vegetables.

It’s VeggieTales on acid as a player controls either the ferocious, head-butting Chomper or rolling, more refined Munchy to defeat the aggressors. As the creature feeds, it gets bigger, able to access new areas and devour bigger enemies.

If a hero takes damage, such as getting electrocuted by a gargantuan turnip, he shrinks and becomes vulnerable to being crushed. The Wiimote must be shaken to restore his size.

After defeating the entire enemy army on a particular island, capped off by a boss battle against the likes of an Afro-wearing broccoli monster or very angry and large bunch of grapes, the muncher evacuates his meals, which turn into shiny orbs.

Depth to the action includes an encyclopedia covering all of the more than 150 space pirates, collecting acorns to get accessories to dress up the Munchable and adding a second player who simply targets and shoots at enemies.

It’s a little odd to hear an eggplant scream in pain or use a toilet to customize characters, but those nuances only add to the game’s strange charm.

Suffice to report, the youngest of gamers will eat this stuff up, while the $20 price makes it an affordable delicacy. Besides, it may be the closest parents get to watching junior eat his veggies.

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