Cyberscope

HOT PROPERTY Net Some Fish on the Net Two years ago the Museum of Science in Boston opened its "virtual fish tank" exhibit that let visitors create an animated fish complete with real-life behaviors. Last week the museum added an online component that lets you design your fish in the comfort of your home and release it into the museum's public tank. Go to the Web site . Designed as a lesson in fish interaction, you can control your fish's behavior by adjusting various sliding scales that correspond to traits like hungriness, timidity and attraction or aversion to shiny objects. Once completed, send it to the science museum. If you're able to visit the museum, you can retrieve the fish you designed at home and watch it interact with others. Or you can let it swim around in your personal fish tank as you do other things on your computer. To avoid monitor damage, you might want to keep your cat away from the PC, though.

CONSOLES Mini-PlayStation Sony's PlayStation 2 debuts in the United States on Oct. 26, but the original PlayStation game console is still hot. A redesigned version--called the PS one--has been outselling its generational competition since it launched in Japan in early July. The sleek new PS one is only a third the size of the original but has the same capabilities. Driven by blockbuster games like SquareSoft's Final Fantasy IX and Chrono Cross, 5,970 PS ones sold in Japan the week ending July 23. This trailed the PS2 by 54,000 units, but beat the Nintendo 64 (5,387 units) and the Sega Dreamcast (4,518). Not bad for a five-year-old product sporting a new look.

GAMES Another Virtual Pet That's All Wet Tamagotchi, 1997's virtual-pet craze, never really lit our candle. But then we heard about Seaman, a new game for Sega Dreamcast that's become Japan's top-selling Dreamcast game ever. Narrated by Leonard Nimoy and featuring a microphone that plugs into your controller, Seaman lets you raise your own fishlike creature in a virtual aquarium. You have to feed it, talk to it and play with it or it will die--or worse, turn into a jerk who makes fun of you. After a few days of TLC, our Seaman said he loved us. Thanks, but we'll pass on this craze, too.

Harry Does Interactive Last week, as the first wave of Harry Potter merchandise was landing in stores (sample items: Hogwarts knapsacks and Hagrid picture frames), Warner Bros. announced it had selected a company to take the teenage mage into videogames. The winner: America's largest game publisher, Electronic Arts, whose hits range from Sim City and Ultima Online to Madden Football and Tiger Woods Golf. Just as Warner Bros. held a bake-off among some of Hollywood's top filmmakers before selecting Chris Columbus to direct the movie, the studio pored over pitches from companies like Sony, Infogrames and Microsoft before selecting EA from its sorting hat. The possibilities range from multiplayer titles like Everquest to portable games like Pokemon. Quidditch, anyone?

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