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Score: 4 of 5 stars
Developer: SCEE London
next, a La-Z-Boy
Actually, the merging of
video games with an exer-
cise regime may seem like
a paradox but the folks at
PlayStation might just have
something here. What better way to lure
couch-potatoes into the crazy world of
health and ﬁ tness.
At the same time, the door has swung
open to attract all of those health nuts
who once pooh-poohed video games. If
you don’t have time to go to a gym or
don’t like that sweaty atmosphere, you
can work out at your convenience at
And with a New Year’s resolution to
get in better shape, the timing is perfect.
The ﬁ rst bit of exercise required is
scaling above the misconception that
a video game couldn’t possibly offer a
beneﬁ cial ﬁ tness program.
In fact, Kinetic was devel-
oped in association with Nike
Motionworks, a professional
sports research lab. It comes
with an EyeToy USB cam-
era that puts your image on
TV and analyzes your every
move to provide immediate
feedback on your perfor-
There are two on-screen
personal trainers who take
you through a 12-week cus-
tomizable training program
that follows the internal
clock of the PS2 for a strict
The workouts incorporate more than
20 exercises inspired by aerobics, mar-
tial arts, kick boxing, dance, yoga, and
You’ll be required to answer ques-
tions about your current level of ﬁ tness,
age, and weight in order for the game
to assign one of three difﬁ culty levels.
Kinetic will then generate a 12-week
program consisting of a well-balanced
workout routine three times a week.
And just because there’s no human
other than yourself to disappoint, don’t
think that slacking off will go unnoticed.
If you miss a workout one day and don’t
make it up the next day, you’re in for a
scolding from your personal trainer.
It’s quite evident Kinetic is more about
exertion than awe-inspiring graphics.
Certainly, some of the on-screen envi-
ronments of the trainers are striking, like
the rooftop garden with a big city skyline
backdrop. But the icons that ﬂ oat onto
the screen — brightly-coloured orbs,
discs and other objects — to direct your
movements are goofy, cartoony silli-
Still, that shouldn’t detract from the
workouts, which are not so infantile.
The training is focused on four speciﬁ c
ﬁ tness zones. A cardio component offers
high-energy dance moves and requires
your on-screen image to reach for ﬂ oat-
The combat zone provides an aero-
bic challenge with short, intense games
using quick reactions and ﬂ exibility to
destroy on-screen icons.
The mind and body zone uses tai chi
exercises and yoga to build concentra-
tion, breathing, balance and posture.
Slow and easy is necessary for these
games in which you must break beams
of light or move a disc about the screen.
The Toning zone works on body con-
ditioning in the abdominal, upper and
lower body regions. These are things
like sit-ups and lunges and thankfully,
there are no icons to destroy. A graphic
at the side of the screen indicates which
part of the body you are working.
Kinetic is original and effectively
exorcises the criticisms that video games
promote laziness. It also give s a new
purpose to the EyeToy, which has been
a letdown to this point. And it promises
to revolutionize the relationship between
kids and parents, with the latter actually
encouraging game play.
Video ‘game’ even nags you
into a strict fitness regimen
Saturday, January 7, 2006 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan The StarPhoenix G1
GAMING, GIZMOS & GADGETS
a weekly report on computer, electronic and video games
’ve tested a number
of Bluetooth wireless
cell phone headsets in
recent months, and the one
from Gennum Corporation,
a Canadian company, is the
It’s called nXZEN, and
the headset is available at
Future Shop, Best Buy and
online at eCost.com for
The nXZEN is the only
headset on the market to
use two microphones.While
two microphones won’t
mean much to you as the
user, it will make a huge difference to anyone
you’re calling. The idea, according to the folks at
Gennum, is that the two microphones allow “the
chips to register the time and distance between
sounds and amplify the speaker’s voice while
eliminating background and ambient noise.”
It works. I’ve made a bunch of calls from out-
side, where wind noise usually causes problems
for people I’m calling. Everyone has said how
well they can hear me. It also worked from the car
with the window open and the radio on — clearly
better than any other set I’ve tested.
The nXZEN doesn’t have an earbud like most
of the other headsets, rather it has an earbud that
goes into your ear like a good quality earphone
does. This makes a huge difference for the
wearer. You can hear a lot better because a lot of
the extraneous outside noise is ﬁ ltered out. The
earbud takes a bit of getting used to because it’s
One of the smallest Bluetoth headsets on the
market, it is one by 3.3 inches and weighs just
17 grams; you can hardly tell you’re wearing it.
The headset has a digital signal processor that can
perform 120 million instructions per second. The
closest competitor comes in at about 32 million.
This power produces up to four times more noise
reduction than anyone else’s headset. The nXZEN
offers seven hours of talk time and 100 hours of
standby time considerably more than any other
headset I’ve tested.
The nXZEN comes in two ﬂ avours. I tested the
basic $179 model. The nXZEN PLUS is $199,
and comes with a connector and an external
earbud so users can hook up to their MP3 players
and use their Bluetooth headset to listen to music.
Answering an incoming phone call is as simple as
hitting a button.
Bluetooth technology is making cell phone use
a lot safer as more and more consumers decide
headsets are a much safer way to go than trying
to use a cell phone in the car. Because Bluetooth
offers very good quality reception over a short
distance and no wires to get tangled up in, it’s fast
becoming the preferred technology for cell users.
PROS: Bluetooth! NO WIRES! Great sound,
small size, easy setup and people at the other end
can actually hear you when you’re outside.
CONS: The earbud takes some getting used
to because it really sticks into your ear. At $179
MSRP for the nXZEN it’s fairly expensive.
You can e-mail Hill at: email@example.com.
com, and ﬁ nd past columns on the web at:
Listen-up! This is the best
ames: Step up to the microphone and get your
groove on in Konami’s Karaoke Revolution
Party (PlayStation 2, Xbox; $59), a family-
friendly video game that challenges players to sing to
more than 50 karaoke mainstays. Songs range from
classics such as Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline and
Culture Club’s Do You Really Want to Hurt Me? to
newer hits by Madonna, Lenny Kravitz and Beyonce.
Warning: the virtual audience may boo you offstage
if you hit a sour note or fall out of the song’s rhythm
(or if ou pull an Ashlee Simpson and just mouth the
words). Co-ordinated gamers can also plug in a Dance
Dance Revolution mat controller to sing and dance at
the same time. Visit www.musicineverydirection.com
for more info, images and videos.
Gadgets: Think of it as a BlackBerry on a diet: the
Motorola Q (www.motorola.ca) is the thinnest QWERTY-based push e-mail
device in the world (11.5mm), plus it’s a cellphone, web surfer, multimedia
player, digital camera and productivity tool. Due out over the next couple of
months (Canadian carrier and price to be determined), the “Q” runs on the
new Windows Mobile 5.0 platform for reliable and powerful performance
and smooth synchronization with your Windows-based PC. Similar to the
BlackBerry, this Bluetooth-enabled device houses an intuitive thumbwheel
for one-handed control, and also includes stereo-quality speakers (and
speakerphone feature) and a Mini-SD removable memory card slot for
music, photos, videos or games.
Gear: Now that your DVDs and video games offer multi-channel sound
instead of just left and right audio, those who prefer to listen privately with
headphones won’t have to lose the surround sound effect. The Zalman
Theatre 6 headphones ($80; www.zalmanusa.com) delivers true 5.1 sound
— much like the ﬁ ve speakers and subwoofer lining your family room.
Three multi-coloured 3.5mm jacks can be found at the end of the headphone
cord, designed for a centre channel, rear and front speakers. Many 5.1-sup-
ported sound cards on a computer — such as Creative’s SoundBlaster Live!
and Audigy cards — offer three female jacks at the back of the card so plug-
ging in these headphone cords is a cinch. Enjoyment in a home theatre setup
may require inexpensive mini-to-RCA converters to plug the headphones
into the back of a stereo receiver.
Anyone can rise
to stardom with
CanWest News Service
Konami’s Karaoke Revolution Party is available
on PlayStation 2 and Xbox
whip you in
Every little thing you need.
Still taking batteries out of your kids’ toys
for the TV remote? Have you no shame?