EyePet Review
EyePet Box Art
System: PSP
Dev: Sony
Pub: Sony
Release: November 2, 2010
Players: 1
Screen Resolution: N/A
A One-Trick Pony
by Cole Smith

I reviewed both Invisimals and EyePet. Both have the use of the PSP camera in common. Both suffer from technical issues specifically relating to the camera. Both are little more than a novelty. And both are dwindling hopes for the PSP camera to further the concept of augmented reality. And for the record, Invisimals is the superior game. So if you hated that, you're going to downright despise EyePet.

Admittedly this is a game for a young audience. I can see some kids getting a kick out of this game, but seriously, the novelty factor wears off faster than a cheesy 3-D movie that continually shoves dangerous device into your retina. I think a word I would also use is "exploit." EyePet exploits the camera, and it exploits kids who love virtual pets. EyePet tries to be cute, but under the surface, it's as cute as Andy Rooney in a flannel gown.

EyePet Screenshot

In the main mode, the mini-games consist of fishing, bowling, racing, drawing, and jumping on trampolines. Before you can take part in any game you have to hatch your pet from an egg. It's got to be the perfect temperature. That's regulated by the distance of the camera in relation to the card. If you're too far, it won't do anything. Get too close, and it will glow red, forcing you to blow into the mic to cool it down. A tutorial will guide you through the mechanics of the gameplay, and there will be prompts to let you know what's happening and what you need to do. Once your pet hatches, you can name it and take a photo of its birth. Photo ops can be taken throughout the game to remind you of the great times you had with your pet before things went sour.

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The EyePet itself looks like a cross between a cartoon monkey and the harmless version of a Gremlin (from the 1984 movie Gremlins). When it comes to life, it animates convincingly, performing all kinds of moves and antics on its own, but the challenge comes from controlling it to perform mini-games. Unlike the console version, you can't interact with the pet by virtually touching it. Some may see that as a deal-breaker.

EyePet Screenshot

In one of the mini-games, a series of trampolines are used to burst balloons. You have to place the pet on the correct trampoline at the right time. In the fishing game, your pet will have to grab various colored fish in sequence as they fall. Using pen and paper, you can draw a boat or a car for your pet to play with. It will come to life in 3D as long as you draw it properly. Hint: make the lines as dark as possible.

The biggest problem with these camera games is keeping the card centered with the camera. An uninterrupted line of sight, in addition to the correct distance, between the card and the camera is required. The card is the platform where the creature appears. Place it somewhere in your home, and the pet will appear on top of it, maintaining the surrounding view of your home. In this way, the creature looks as though it's actually in your house, when viewed through the PSP screen. Here you attempt to play a variety of mini-games with the creature all the while making sure you keep the card in sight of the camera at all times. And this is where the game slowly falls apart.

EyePet Screenshot

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