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volume 1, issue 16

Today in loonygames:

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Off the Shelf:
Geek Toys





By Jason "loonyboi" Bergman

Toy: The Intensor
Publisher: BSG Labs
Average Price: $300 - $600 (depending on optional accessories)

kay, let's start with the basics here. I don't know who the heck invented this thing but they're definitely on some wacky substance. Well, I know who made it, but I want to know the oddball that came up with it.

For those who don't know, the Intensor isn't a gaming system, it's not a speaker or a PC, it's not even a joystick...it's a chair.

Yep, that's right, a chair.

Perhaps the last analog piece of hardware the true geek owns is the trusty chair (with your own personal Ass Grove that comes from years of sitting in front of your PC/Television). Well, thanks to the fine folks at BSG Labs, there's no longer anything in my room that can't be plugged into something (take that as you will).

So let's talk details here. The Intensor can be purchased as just a regular unit, or with an optional base and subwoofer. Getting just the plain old unit is okay if you're tight on cash...but it's not exactly comfortable. I tried it out briefly here, and while the sound is still just as kickass (more on this in a bit) you'll find yourself having unbelievable back pains after a few hours of gaming.

But with the base attached, it well...resembles a chair at least, but it's still quite obviously a freaky geek toy. With the base it's still not as comfortable as that chair of mine with the Ass Grove, but it's definitely worth the strain to get that incredible sound.

I know a few people who have Intensors, and one of the complaints I'd heard from them is that they either had a hard time setting up the subwoofer, or once set up, they were disappointed with the sound that came out of it. The subwoofer is a big ol' box that sits under the power unit for the Intensor, and I found it quite easy to set up, and I was actually blown away by the sound.

Here's the skinny on the Intensor (and what makes it such a neeto thing): it's got some incredible sound. The Intensor chair works with just about every game system you can possibly own, since it plugs into that system's audio out, or if that's not an option, even directly into your television.

I tried a number of different audio configurations with the chair, including plugging it into the monitor out plug on my television, and splitting the audio at the source (so it went into my television and the Intensor). The monitor out plug was definitely not the way to go with my setup, as it produced muffled sound, and limited stereo.

When I plugged the audio from my gaming systems directly into the chair, however, I was floored. We're talking completely floored here. In my teeny little room, the Intensor well...dominated. The sound that came out of this thing could be heard around the corner, and when I picked up the force field powerup in Wipeout 64, the whole room shook. I'm not kidding here. That subwoofer doesn't just pick up bass, it friggin' propels it against everything in site.

While I'm a big fan of the plain vanilla sound system in the Intensor, for the best results, I suggest splitting the audio source to include your television speakers (with console games) or PC speakers (for well...PC games). The reason is, that while the Intensor does some funky surround effects, the whole thing really works better with a pair of front speakers running at the same time. It's not a fault of the Intensor, it's just a fact. I didn't try it myself, but I've been told that for the ultimate in ultimate setups, hook up a pair of back speakers on top of this. That's pushing the limits of a dorm room in my case, though. :)

After playing a bunch of console games, I hooked the Intensor up to my PC to try it out in some of the games I've been playing lately. I have an SBLive! card in my computer, and since I only have two front speakers (plus a subwoofer) i'm not really getting the best positional audio in the world. With the Intensor, I got a noticeably better positional audio experience, but the SBLive! just didn't seem to want to work too well with the Intensor. Blame it on the fact that the Intensor has waaay too many speakers for the SBLive! to work with (there's no "freaky game chair" option in the SBLive! control panel) but for SBLive! owners, i'd suggest getting some nice back speakers for the best positional audio setup.

But, while the positional audio wasn't superb, the rest of the sound was right on the money. Like with the console games, the sound was loud, and the bass simply explosive.

Adding to the whole explosive effect, by the way, is the fact that the Intensor has its own built-in force feedback system. It works off of low frequency audio instead of any API, so it works just fine with every game you own, be it on a PC or console system. Heck, since the Intensor can even be plugged into your television, you can get force feedback off of The Simpsons. Now that's a rush. :)

Since I was trying this thing out with everything I could find, I plugged it into my DVD player and popped in Terminator 2. Like the games, it was a truly incredible experience. There's no doubt about it, this thing has some great sound.

But, in all fairness, I can't suggest you run out and buy one. While i've had no problems with mine, i've noticed some problems people have had that come with age (mine's only a month old). The plugs are all very sensitive, and if you should happen to screw one up somehow...well, the whole thing stops working. Or worse, starts doing funky things. Things like the volume knobs not working. That can be a problem during those late night Metal Gear Solid sessions when your neighbors are trying to sleep. :)

Now again, I've had no problems with mine...but I have seen this happen.

Also needing to be pointed out here, is the fact that the Intensor is a major purchase, and well...a bit of an extravagance. Let's face it...the chair might be the best sound system you can by for your console systems (and pretty damn good for PCs as well) but well...is it really worth the $600 you'll need to lay down to get the full experience? I can't tell anyone to buy the unit without the base, since most people keep their PCs on desks, and the Intensor would sit directly on the floor. While I've got some pretty dang long arms...they're not nearly that long. :)

But hey...if you've got some cash to blow, or you know someone rich who really wants to get you something cool this holiday season...check out the Intensor. It's a scene, man. To say the absolute least.


- Jason "loonyboi" Bergman is the editor-in-chief here at loonygames.



Credits: Bargain Bin logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. Geek Toys is © 1998 Jason Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is a majorly hostile gesture.