EyePet is a unique motion controlled game by the folks at Sony’s London Studios. EyePet was originally released in Europe bundled with just the PlayStation Eye camera peripheral that allowed for motion sensing gameplay similar to titles that used Sony’s last generation motion camera the EyeToy. From reports about the game, this control method was functional, but limiting due to menu selection, need for special cards, and some tasks being hard to accomplish without buttons.
For EyePet’s American release, the game was pushed back several months to support functionality with the PlayStation Move controller. Now that the US version has been released, as well as a Move patch for the European version, the controls have been improved thanks to the camera having an easier object to track no matter the time of day, and the ability to use buttons to select items in the menu. Interaction with the EyePet itself seems to be quite a bit easier with the Move controller as well. After sampling gameplay without the controller, it turned out to be much easier to get my EyePet’s attention moving the glowing ball at the end of the Move controller rather than simply wiggling my fingers around certain areas of the screen.
The gameplay for this game is a very unique experience. The main objective is teaching your pet how to draw. At first, it can barely draw a straight line, but after a few pictures, it improves enough to accomplish the tasks the game presents to you. Afterwards, most of the gameplay consists of fifteen sets of “daily” challenges for you to accomplish normally consisting of a game to play with your pet, an actual challenge like a race, a photograph challenge, and some other random task. It is possible to unlock four days worth of tasks in one day, but the game yells at you for doing so much and “tiring” out your wide-awake pet. Most of the games given to you for the challenges come from new toys like the Bubble Monkey that lets the EyePet pop bubbles while you try to capture him in a large one. There are simple toys like a baseball to extreme toys like a bowling game in which you launch the EyePet like a bowling ball into randomly arranged pins. Every toy offers a unique form of interaction between you and your EyePet.
Other than the daily challenges, you can just play with and take care of the virtual pet. It is no different from a Tamagotchi. You feed, bathe, play and customize your pet’s clothing accumulating hours of game time in the process. There is some room for actual customization through drawing crazy shirt designs and vehicles. Designs are created by either drawing onscreen with the Move controller or scanning your artwork off a sheet of paper with the PlayStation Eye camera. If you take the hand drawn option, make sure all the lines are bold, small details tend to go misunderstood and left out.
Shockingly the EyePet can actually be considered cute in a creepy way. The virtual creature is odd to look at, even odder to clothe, but somehow warms your heart when it is playing. I have no idea how this effectively works, but all I can legitimately say is darn you Sony for showing that a creepy virtual animal can be cute.
In terms of visuals, things get a bit tricky to review. The game looks great since there are a very limited number of actual visuals that occur. The EyePet itself is rendered well with no jagged edged to speak of. The same cannot be said for some of the toys and items. The Multi-Toy and fishing rods for example look horrid. The string like lines coming from them look like they came from the PlayStation 1 era. They are jagged messes. Still even those toys don’t compare to the ones where the texture work on some the toys tend to be drab and smudgy as if whoever was put in-charge of skinning the object was ran out of time and threw it on without touching it up at all.
According to the game box, EyePet supports 3D visuals. Sadly, I do not have a 3DTV so I cannot actually review this feature.
EyePet has a very upbeat soundtrack, which helps keep the player motivated in accomplishing at least several tasks in one sitting. It is a completely instrumental tune that is about as up lifting as say, “Catch the Wind” by Donovan without the lyrics. Sound effects found in this game can be odd, but not far out. Some toys just make noises that you would not expect. The Magic Multi-Toy for example can turn into something similar to a fishing rod, but as the string is bounced around it sounds a bit more like a stretched rubber band rather than what one would have expected it to. Other than that, the EyePet itself sounds like a cat most of the time. It purrs, coos, and sometimes you would swear it meows. It also makes other noises that are harder to link to actual animals.
Overall, this game is actually fun. While it is not for everyone, this title is probably one of the easiest games to earn a platinum trophy with, and is a very appealing game for families with kids (girls recommended), someone with pet allergies, or someone who wants to introduce a friend to gaming. EyePet is easy to get into, and hard to put down if you are sucked into the insane amount of cuteness revolving around the virtual cat/monkey/thing that is the EyePet.