We have already reviewed the PSP version of Eyepet, which unfortunately provided us with a less that great experience. So the question is now, can its big brother redeem itself or is it time to put this EyePet down?
First off is the title, “EyePet and Friends” is a little bit of a misnomer, this time around rather than just one EyePet you get two! Not really the ground breaking progression offered by other sequels but we take what we can with this virtual reality pet, the “friends” referred to in the title are you and the second player, a little misleading I feel.
The general idea of EyePet is a good one, a beefed up version of the Tamagotchi craze that swept through the country in the mid 90′s. Do you remember what happened to your Tamagotchi? Well the same will happen here, but at least you don’t have to hear its beeping death throes from under your bed.
EyePet and Friends lets you play with, entertain and look after not just one but two (if you want) virtual pets, who happily lark about in your TV set, using the PS3 camera to beam your living room as it’s background. As before the Move controller is the main tool to use here, with the ability to manipulate with ease your pet by transforming it into a multitude of tools for cleaning, health checks and general play like a laser pointer for your pet to chase after and a trampoline to bounce around on; this area amounts to the usual virtual pet experiences and is relatively unchanged from the first game other than having a friend or relative to also bring up a pet at the same time.
Alongside the Move there are also plenty of hand gestures required, like at the beginning with assisting in hatching their egg by tapping at the sides in the same pattern the pet does and then stroking them to emerge; it’s all nice and cute if it actually worked as the hand recognition struggled at times, with the stroking movements requested requiring more of a striking of their head, not the best way to be brought into the world. Tricks can also be taught, like the basic wiggling of your fingers above its head to make it jump and later using a trick stick for running in circles and even dancing.
The game gently introduces you to the ins and outs of EyePet care, making sure you understand what to do via an at times overly helpful voice-over man, to the point where you have to impatiently wait and let this voice get on with their spiel before continuing, helpful but it does sap the fun out of the game very quickly. Once through the initial tutorial areas the game does however begin to impress with the amount of customisation options available either straight away or by using Pet Tokens collected by interacting with your pet.
Strangely it was away from the pet that I had the most fun, in the Creativity Center you can create designs and stickers using the move as a pointer to draw, colour and add sparkles to whatever you like and also customize your pet with a huge amount of clothes and fur types. But the best fun is in the toys. The soft toy area allows you to create a play area for your pet to run around, with ramps and tunnels all part of the fun. It also provides different themed areas like fairy tales and Wild West adding to adventure. The best however is the Toy Box customization area which is a somewhat stroke of genius, offering you a variety of vehicles to unlock, each with a couple of mini-games attached to them. At the customisation screen you can either create a vehicle from the templates offered, or again by using the Move to draw what you like. From this the game creates a 3D wooden toy from your specs right before your eyes that your pet can then ride on. For example the simple digger has a chassis and two wheels so you can draw your own body, as long as it caters for the shovel and your own wheels, though a steady hand is required as slightly oblong wheels makes for a bumpy ride for the pet. You can do this with the submarines, rockets and boats and with a little practice your kids will be creating some great toys. As with other areas, all of these can again be customized with your previously saved stickers or whatever plans you have in mind.
The additional two player mode requires a second move controller and plays the same as single player but allows for a bit more competitive fun in the mini-games. EyePet and Friends does allow for you to take photos and videos at any time but there is no way of sharing them. This left me a bit flummoxed as in all of the literature about this game it boasted the ability to share pictures and tips on a message board? But thorough searching came to no avail, either it’s a release day update or it was just cut, I can’t comment.
There are a few niggling issues with the camera, you have to play in perfect brightness otherwise it is not going to register your hand movements, the loading screens are plenty and long and there appears to be a crippling bug that I have recreated many a time. Every time you just finish creating a custom toy the game will lose all sound, with only a reset able to bring it back.
The real issue, as with any virtual pet is that it doesn’t nag for attention, so if another game comes along they are all but forgotten, on the plus side returning to EyePet land after a few months at least your kids won’t be greeted by bundle of EyePet bones and urine stains up the wall. Sadly even though a PSP version is released at the same time there is no interconnectivity, you can’t trade pets or transfer your creations from each console to take them for walks or tend to their needs on lunch breaks, a massive oversight and a bitter shame.
EyePet and Friends is a great game for the younger age group, especially if you have a couple of them who often argue for a game as the two player option is a step in the right direction. With all of the customization tools available there is plenty to keep them occupied over Christmas, just don’t expect it to last longer than that.
Rating: GoodReview Policy
You can order Eyepet & Friends from ShopTo here.