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Many DVDs have set-top games as extra features. Lilo & Stitch’s Island of Adventures turns the tables. It’s a DVD game you can play without a computer, and as an extra bonus, it has two short Lilo & Stitch cartoons.

Java, Perl, Fortran, DVD

 Box art from Lilo and Stitches Island Adventure Game
The clever use of DVD technology is inspired
Unlike the technical specs for VHS or LaserDisc, the DVD-Video specification is well structured. There are ground rules that DVD players and DVD producers must abide by. Some of the more interesting of these rules read like a computer programming manual. For example, DVD players must allow 8 variables, and must allow DVDs to execute certain commands, like “set a variable,” or “jump to a scene,” or even “generate a random number.”

If you can generate a random number, you’ve got a spinner. And if you can include several short scenes, you’ve got a deck of wild cards. Throw in a board and a marketable idea and you have a digital video board game.

As far as I’ve seen, Disney is the first to market with a DVD sold exclusively as a game. This is exciting stuff. This is a DVD producer thinking outside the box. This is an idea I wish I’d thought of.

Island of Adventures

Lilo & Stitch’s Island of Adventures is a lot like a board game. There is a board and there are playing pieces. But instead of dice and wild cards, it has a digital random-number generator and a library of slides.

The game itself seems to be aimed at the eight-and-under crowd. (It has small game pieces, so it is not recommended for kids three and under.) In it, players move their markers around a board, collecting cardboard pogs called “experiments.” When the first player reaches the finish line, everyone counts their experiments, and the player with the most, wins.

Along the way, players spin the digital spinner to determine how far to move. If you land on a “tourist” space you have to do something physical, like get up and dance, or speak Hawaiian phrases (beware of the “shouting contest”). Land on a “tiki” space and get a wild card that lets you move your piece ahead, or costs you an experiment. There are also visual puzzles and games, like guessing how many coconuts fill the screen, or playing Let’s Make a Deal.

The game itself isn’t very inspired, but the clever use of DVD technology is. Whether or not it spawns a new industry remains to be seen. For now, it’s an ingenious proof-of-concept, and probably a better way for your younger kids to spend their time than merely watching TV.