EyePet Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

EyePet Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

None of the Inconvenience of Pet Ownership

There are two types of people in this world. There are those who think that the new EyePet animals are simply the most adorable thing they’ve ever set eyes on, and there are those who find them to be a gross affront to genetic engineering. I happen to fall in the latter category. Seriously, what on Earth are these things? They look like apes cross bread with bears, with human faces. So I’m calling on Sony today to give us an explanation for where these horrible creatures come from. Their button noses may be adorable, but we won’t be fooled. Equal rights for EyePets, now!

EyePet screenshot

But despite my personal feelings on the matter, Sony has decided to bet big that most of the world falls into the other category. And considering how much of their PlayStation Move marketing campaign focuses on the EyePet, they’d better hope they’re correct.

Following in the footsteps of enormously popular non-games like Nintendogs, EyePet can’t be said to be a “game” in the traditional sense. There is little in the way of goals or objectives. Rather, players get a fuzzy new pet to play around with and take care of. In essence it’s all of the nice things about owning a pet without all of the horrible things that everyone forgets about until its too late (disobedience, clean up, etc.)

EyePet’s big “innovation” is that there are actually things you can do with your EyePet besides show him off to bored classmates. Relative to something like Nintendogs, EyePet has a host of games and other activities you can do with your fuzzy companion. None of them are particularly interesting or fun, but it’s better than tossing the same frisbee 10,000 times. For instance, one of them involved tracing an outline of a toy airplane using the Move controller. Once completed, your little EyePet suits up for aviation action and begins flying around. You control the height and speed at which he flies with a small radio controller (Move controller) and try to pop as many balloons as possible with the propeller. It’s not particularly engaging, but it’ll give you something to do with your EyePet.

EyePet screenshot

One of the biggest problems with EyePet is the visuals. Usually this doesn’t really affect the entire game, but in this case it really grated on me. The issue is that the EyePet is beautiful, bright, colorful, and well-animated. That sounds like a great problem to have, but it becomes annoying because of the grainy, washed out look of the Eye camera. Because of that, you have this colorful, bright creature running around on a dull, ugly background.

EyePet is supposed to simulate having that pet in your living room, and yet the developers neglected one of the most significant immersion tools available: aesthetic consistency. If something in the environment doesn’t look like it belongs then it brings you out of the experience.

EyePet screenshot

The PlayStation Move is capable of great things (as we’ve noted in many of our other Move launch game reviews) so why couldn’t some kind of trick of the camera be used to solve this issue. Surely, there is some kind of visual filter they could have used to either make the background cartoony looking, or make the EyePet look just as grainy as the camera portrays the background. Off-the-shelf webcams can do this, so why can’t Move?

The other important aspect of the presentation, the narrator, is a mixed bag of success and failure. On one hand, if you’re an adult looking to try out EyePet to experiment with your new Move controller, prepare to be supremely annoyed by The Professor. He’s the over-acted, obnoxious guide on your EyePet journey. If this game is being played by a young kid though, they’ll probably respond quite well to the animated narrator. He’s got tons of unnecessary inflection in his voice that makes him sound like he’s straight out of the latest episode of Dora the Explorer.

EyePet screenshot

EyePet is not a good game for those who fit into that first category. If you’re just looking to experiment with the Move controller, you won’t find much in EyePet that impresses you. The best audience for this game is going to be young children. The game is obviously aimed at them, so as long as you fit the demographic you’ll be able to find some fun here.

The other activities found in the game are a bit of fun at first but will grow old quickly. Don’t get me wrong, checking your EyePet’s wee little heart with a mini heart monitor (a graphic laid over the Move controller on screen) is more than just a little bit adorable, but it doesn’t hold any intrinsic gameplay value. The same can be said of washing your EyePet. Seeing him all lathered up with suds is freakin’ cute, but you’re not going to go out of your way to turn on your PS3 just to give him a bath.

EyePet is an interesting game for Sony to include in its launch line-up. It definitely signals that Sony is at least flirting with the idea that Move could have significant appeal to expanded audiences. If EyePet does well at retail, we can reliably expect Sony’s strategy to shift accordingly. The list of games Sony had ready for release at launch signifies that they may be most interested in trying to craft an audience that bridges the gap between hardcore and casual. It won’t be easy, and has rarely ever been done before.

It’s a shame that there’s not a lot more gameplay in this package, because in its current state EyePet will never be able to challenge genre leaders like Nintendogs and Petz. Furthermore, EyePet shows the incredible importance of those games being on portable systems. When the game is portable, taking care of a dog or hamster becomes a time-wasting activity, but on a console you actually have to take time out of your day to play the game. That’s not something many people who don’t already fit the demographic are going to do.

Still, as a device that can keep the kids busy for a couple hours a day for a week, $40 isn’t so bad. Just don’t expect much more from this package besides mild distraction.

The developer didn’t do all that they might have been able to with this game. The EyePet never blends into the scene. 2.5 Control
The EyePet is reasonably responsive, without being unrealistically smart. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Kids may respond to the main narrator, but most others will find it obnoxious. 2.7 Play Value
There’s not that much gameplay here. It can be frustrating and unresponsive at times which may cause kids to give up on this game. 2.8 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Play with your very own Eyepet using the new PlayStation Eye technology!
  • Play with your Eyepet in one of many fun new minigames.
  • Wash your Eyepet and make sure he’s healthy with fun tools.

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