XaviXBaseball, XaviXTennis , XaviXBowling $60 each from www.xavix.com.
Sharp Aquos LC-45GD4U 45-inch LCD TV $8,499 from Future Shop, www.futureshop.ca. Rating: NNN
The immediate hype in the video gaming community is all Sony PSP this and next-generation Xbox that. But a newcomer called the XaviX has entered the rodeo and is literally turning heads and causing people to rearrange their furniture.
The XaviX is an interactive gaming unit that gives you the full experience of whatever you're playing. Instead of pushing a button on a joystick to hit a baseball, you're standing up swinging a bat. It's like having Sega City Playdium in your living room instead of in painfully boring Mississauga.
Once the unit arrives, I decide to put it through my usual rigorous testing method for gaming consoles: invite an assload of friends over, get everyone hammered, pass out, then painstakingly write the review with a hangover.
To complement the XaviX, I call up Sharp Canada and ask for the biggest friggin' TV they can get to me by Friday. They exceed expectations and deliver a gorgeous 45-inch Aquos LCD TV. If the XaviX fails to entertain, Girls Gone Wild on a monstrous screen is my infallible plan B.
The Aquos hooks up like a regular TV. A simple swap of cables with my old 26-inch and it's set. Thirty centimetres thin and weighing a mere 28 kilos, it's designed to hang on your wall - a far better option than standing it up on the stumpy detachable legs it comes with, which lift it only 9 centimetres off the floor.
The XaviX is cake to set up: the red, white and yellow A/V cables plug into the red, white and yellow outlets on the TV. It comes with the only three games presently available, Tennis, Baseball and Bowling, and each includes wireless controllers in the form of sporting gear: two tennis rackets, a bat and baseball and a bowling ball. Though the console itself is the size of a small hardcover book, I move furniture and valuables from the room to create a spacious fairway for drunken partiers.
My arriving guests are greeted with mandatory shots. They're immediately hypnotized by the enormous Aquos, which is hogging - and creating - the limelight, its incredibly bright screen the only light source in the room.
They finish caressing the screen (after I instruct them not to caress the screen), and I pop Tennis into the console and discover that the line "realistic, high-definition graphics" in the press release is utter bullshit. The graphics are on a par with 1991's Super Nintendo.
Cutting-edge graphics, though, aren't the point of the XaviX; it's the playability that counts.
Two of us grab tennis rackets and start swinging erratically to get a sense of the timing. Using optical sensors and infrared technology, the XaviX responds to the speed, direction and angle of our movements and translates them smoothly to the TV. Once we're accustomed to it, it feels a lot like the sport, except with less pain in my legs and more booze in my stomach.
Baseball is agonizing to watch: 20 shitfaced guys take turns swinging the bat as hard as they can. One slip and I'd have a hole in a $10,000 LCD TV that isn't mine. The bowling ball comes with only a pathetic wrist strap to keep it from sailing into someone's soft skull, so I stealthily hide it behind the stereo.
The overall playability of the XaviX is solid. I was sure the mountain of liquor or my high school friend in the pink tank top would've been the centre of attention, but it maintained its entertainment value throughout the night.
Though Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft probably aren't shaking in their boots, the XaviX is sure to find itself a market because of its price if not its unique playability. It's a paltry $100 or so for the console and $65 per game.
There's still no word about when it'll distribute in Canada, so pick it up off the Internet. Then throw a party. The high-tech XaviX goes great with low-tech booze.