Sunday, July 13, 1997 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Tech Reviews

Tech Reviews -- Star Warped Takes Nerd Jokes To New High

Special To The Seattle Times

There's something endearing about computer nerds . . . as long as they don't hack into your office system or send you a file with a virus.

The entire Mystery Science Theater thing in which brainy kids create a rhythm by cracking one stale joke after another has a certain class of its own. It's fun stuff, especially when they get going on their favorite topics, girls, sex and themselves.

What would happen if two brothers, dyed-in-the-wool computer nerds, got to take you on a tour of their shrine to "Star Wars"? You could bet the bad jokes would be flying.

"Star Warped," a new CD-ROM from Parroty Interactive," is that tour.

In "Star Warped," two fictitious brothers from Modesto, Calif., named Aaron and Brian give you an interactive walk through their Star Wars shrine - their bedroom. These teenagers are consummate nerds. They still play with "Star Wars" action figures, fantasize about Princess Leia and whine when their mother calls.

In fact, they claim they have never left their room since the first time they saw the "Star Wars" trilogy!

This may sound fanatical, but don't worry; Brian and Aaron are more charming than dangerous. And their shrine has an eerie sense of reality to it. It's as if you've tapped into an online site created by two boys with lots of technology and nothing to do.

Brian and Aaron's shrine/bedroom has six games based on Star Wars. The most enjoyable is called Death Star Destructo and is based on a 1981 arcade game called "Space Zap."

In "Space Zap" you used four large cannons to fend off attacks on a space fortress drawn in the middle of the screen.

There's no mistaking the fortress in Death Star Destructo, it's definitely a "Star Wars" Death Star - a round white orb with a single enormous cannon. You control the Death Star with your mouse as you shoot attackers into space dust.

In this case, the enemies include Ewoks, severed bionic hands, At Ats, X-Wing fighters and the bikini top that Leia wore in Jabba's lair. (Yep, they're nerds.)

The fun continues with a trivia test called, "You Don't Know Jedi," which closely resembles a popular computer game called "You Don't Know Jack." In this game you are asked to answer questions about . . . what else, "Star Wars." The questions are easy, but it's still fun.

Another fun game is "Whack the Ewok" in which you use your mouse to aim a pole and strike fuzzy little Ewoks as they scurry across a bridge. Adding to the fun is a running commentary with Darth Vader cheering you on with such lines as: "Use the pole, Luke." "How can something so evil feel so good?" "Strike his fuzzy little butt."

None of these games has any depth or lasting value, but some are great for a quick diversion. Star Wars fans will enjoy them just because they are about Star Wars.

"Star Warped" also has a large inventory of content gags. The best, and probably the best part of the entire CD-ROM, is called Scrapped Scripts. The idea is that Brian and Aaron have found rejected "Star Wars" scripts in George Lucas's trash that were written by Spike Lee, Woody Allen, Quentin Tarantino and Jerry Seinfeld.

Featuring scenes with Harvey Keitel as Darth Vader, John Travolta as Luke Skywalker, Uma Thurman as Princess Leia and Samuel Jackson as Han Solo, the Tarantino script is the funniest of the bunch. The scenes are shown in comic strip-like slides with impersonators of each actor performing the lines. OK, it's a bit bizarre. But it is in nerdy harmony with the rest of the CD-ROM.

The Scrapped Scripts are very well-crafted and the art work is fun, which is a good thing since not all of the impersonations are perfect. The guy doing Jerry Seinfeld, for instance, sounds more like Edward Kennedy than Seinfeld. Oh well, what do you expect from two teenagers working out of a bedroom in Modesto?

The entire CD is equally quirky; after all, it's not just a tribute to "Star Wars," but one to all of nerd culture. Everything about this CD is calculated to make you throw up your arms and sigh, "Nerds!"

So who would want a CD such as Star Warped. Sigh . . . "Nerds."

Copyright (c) 1997 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.


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