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The joys of E3

Booth babes, goofy input devices and competitive ballroom dancing games compete for attention at the trade show. The booth babes win.

LOS ANGELES--Before this year's E3 game trade show wraps up, I'd like to offer a bit of wisdom to the developers, retailers and fan boy media likely to attend next year's show.

They're called breasts, guys.

They're made of human tissue and, in this environment, various petroleum byproducts. They're fairly widely distributed among the female half of the population.

Which means the mere presence of said mammaries should not be sufficient to make y'all stand in line for two hours to get your photo taken with the anonymous, Spandex-wrapped booth babe they're attached to. Especially since doing so causes huge traffic jams on the show floor, forcing hard-working journalists to make wide detours through the relative calm of the "Made in Sweden" pavilion just to get to their next appointment.

Thank you. And now let's concentrate on the real business of video games, which is, of course, alien cattle mutilation.

And now let's concentrate on the real business of video games, which is, of course, alien cattle mutilation.

That delightful occupation is a key element of "Destroy All Humans," set for release early next year and my pick for most promising game at the show. In a tongue-in-cheek tribute to 1950s science fiction movies, you play the role of an angry little Martian, wandering through the American countryside, annoying cattle, performing brain probes on perplexed farmers and carving out crop circles.

Combine this game with the upcoming "Godzilla: Save the Earth," and you get to be in the middle of a virtual Saturday morning "Creature Feature."

Also raising eyebrows on the show floor:
•  Worried about your loved ones turning into potbellied couch potatoes whose only muscle functions involve joystick control? Then get thee to a Gamebike retailer. The device combines an exercise bike with a PlayStation 2 game controller. Use it to play a racing game on the PS2, and the speed of your on-screen vehicle will be governed by how fast you pedal the bike.

Since the game doesn't necessarily know you're using a nonstandard controller, expect a real workout just to keep up in the game. Reasonably fit convention attendees were huffing and puffing after one lap of "ATV Off-Road Fury."

"We call it 'active gaming,'" said Jim Stone, vice president of marketing for Gamebike creator Cat Eye. "You hear parents talking all the time about how hard it is to get their kids off the sofa and away from the TV. Well, we've at least solved the sofa part."
•  Elsewhere on the goofy input devices front, the Action Stick adds a whole new dimension to fighting games by encouraging you to beat the smack out of a tripod-mounted stick.
•  You'll no doubt be pleased to know that the ButtKicker line of subwoofers now comes in several new configurations. Attach one to your favorite game chair, and you get an alarmingly vigorous posterior massage every time something in the game blows up.
•  The award for oddest game concept goes to XTango, from Korean developer BinaryCraft. From what we can tell, it's a competitive ballroom dancing game. Because 18- to 24-year-old males are so good at that sort of thing.
•  Note to Microsoft: You might want to ask your public relations staff to check the latest news headlines before deciding to promote the realistic decapitations in the latest Xbox fighting game.