Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Here’s a look at some hardware and software:

Elebits from Konami (for Wii, rated: Everyone, $49.99).

Electrified beings engage players in absorbing rounds of hide-and-seek in a new first-person shooter for Nintendo’s latest and greatest entertainment console.

In the title, the world’s energy needs are dependent on friendly miniature gnomelike entities that spew power. The player becomes a researcher’s son tasked with collecting these Elebits after a major power outage strikes his neighborhood.

The new hunter uses a Capture Gun that shoots a “Ghostbusters”-like stream of energy to capture prey as he progresses through more than 25 missions to restore power.

Of course, the use of Nintendo’s pair of highly interactive controllers is required and involves holding the “Wiimote” to control the gun, manipulate objects and more.

Multiple types of Elebits help the player succeed. He must collect a certain variety to gain wattage to turn on appliances and meet mission objectives. He must collect another variety to charge up his gun so it can move heavier objects (eventually vehicles) to find those powered pipsqueaks.

The player can shake, twist, turn, drop, throw, stack, open and slam items, collect power-ups and eventually (as he collects more wattage) energize such Elebit-spewing stuff as a toy train, stove, hair dryer, space heater, computer and furniture.

The impish creatures will hide everywhere: in a toilet, next to a carrot in a garden, in a pizza box, under shirts in a drawer and in a toaster. Because almost every object can be manipulated in Elebits, the tiny fellows usually are on the run, sleeping or frozen in fear, but ready for absorption.

Surprisingly, the most difficult maneuver is opening a door, as the player must twist the handle and pull forward or back on the Wiimote. It sounds just like real life, but the doors often close before the player can get through them, a major time waster in levels that always involve a time limit amid the frenetic and chaotic quests.

Players also can design their own Elebits-infested areas, add objects and send them to friends to enjoy via the WiiConnect24 online community. Also, up to four Elebits hunters can get involved as one controls movement around the room and the quartet try individually to capture the most creatures to win.

Although the game has limited graphics values highlighted only by beautiful, static storybook illustrations, that does not detract from the fun, wrist-aching experience.

Overall, Elebits will energize the entire family.

Guy Blast! from Screenlife (for DVD-enabled computer or entertainment center. For players 16 years and older, $19.99).

The history of Seth MacFarlane’s favorite dysfunctional family arrives on a DVD-based trivia game to perplex fans of the popular animated series “Family Guy.”

A single disc exposes the insanity from all four seasons of the TV show compacted into hundreds of multiple-choice questions and visual conundrums.

Sides first are selected under Team Stewie or Team Brian, and up to 10 games of seven rounds each can be chosen, leading to such brain benders as, “Who does the voice of the greased-up deaf guy?” and, “How many hairs does Stewie have on his head?”

Timed challenges can range from watching a clip and answering five questions to identifying characters as they are drawn to jigsaw puzzles, but each game always ends with a “Jeopardy!”-like, but untimed, finale in which teams can bet all or part of their points on a single question.

Although contestants mostly must shout out answers, the remote control is used liberally to navigate menus, and a designated DVD Master tallies up the point totals on-screen by checking off correct answers.

Trivial Pursuit it is not, but it does offer a fun audio-and-visual challenge, but with limited replayability (questions are the same for each game) that still covers all of the minutiae associated with the Griffin clan.

Those unfamiliar with the burgeoning “Family Guy” legacy and wishing to try to compete in the game should first check out the digitally interactive second half of the fourth season of the Fox program.

This three-disc DVD set, Family Guy, Vol. 4: Part 2 (Fox Home Entertainment, $39.98) compiles a mind-numbing explosion of sophomoric hijinks and offensive humor spread out among 14 episodes.

Mr. MacFarlane and his crew add an optional commentary track to each episode with bonuses that include an art lesson on drawing Stewie and even a tour of the “Family Guy” offices with distinguished actor Adam West.

Additionally, those who pop the fourth disc into the PC get a new interface and access to complete storyboards on seven of the episodes, animatics on 13 of the episodes and links to three “Family Guy” Web sites.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski at The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send an e-mail message (

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