What to Surf | EW.com


What to Surf

We grade online gaming websites like The Sims Resource and South Park Games

The Sims Resource (sims.xtremesimz.com)
SimCity creator Will Wright’s latest masterpiece, The Sims, is an instant hit, and fan sites dedicated to the quirky people simulator are sprouting up faster than lame dot-com commercials. Need to stock your neighborhood with celebrity Sims? This site offers an eclectic hodgepodge of TV and movie characters, including Darth Maul, Homer Simpson, Tony Soprano, and, uh, Judy Garland. There’s also furniture, wall murals, and other goodies available for download. You can even acquire entire houses, including a 26,000-square-foot mansion. You’ll have to design your own Robin Leach Sim if you want a tour, though. A

importgaming.com (www.importgaming.com)
A painful reality for American console addicts is that their Japanese counterparts get dibs on some of the niftiest videogames long before they do. Even worse, some worthy games never get officially released here. The result is a thriving U.S. niche market for made-in-Japan titles. But while plenty of e-tailers sell Japanese-bred games, sites such as this are a rarer breed. Here, impatient button mashers can find loads of news and reviews of Samurai Spirits 2, Dance Dance Revolution, and other hits that are hot in the Land of the Rising Sun. Be sure to pay special attention to each review’s importability blurb, which warns non-Japanese-reading and -speaking players whether they’ll need a Berlitz crash course to find their way around a game. B

Independent Games Festival 2000 (www.gdconf.com/indiegames)
Think Sundance with less glitz and more geeks. The IGF, held in San Jose, Calif., during the annual Game Developers Conference in March, is a competition for indie game programmers who want to show off their work and shop for deep-pocketed publishers. The competition’s official site could offer more in-depth info, but you can still keep track of entries and preview the games themselves. Who knows? An indie like Moonshine Runners could turn out to be the game equivalent of The Blair Witch Project. Just think: You played it when! B

South Park Games (www.spgames.com)
If all the commercially released South Park games are too sophisticated for you, try this collection of brainless diversions, which are actually a lot more faithful to the crude animated stylings of the wicked ‘toon series. Dozens of low-rent mini-games are available to corrupt your hard drive, and all are pretty self-explanatory: SP Mario, Tic-Tac-Cartman, South Park Invaders, etc. There’s also a large selection of Shockwave games to play, but the best ones (South Park Pinball, Mr. Hankey’s Construction Set) originate from Comedy Central’s website. If you end up hating all of ‘em — a likely scenario — maybe you can blame Canada for this site, too. B-