EyePet Review for PlayStation Portable (PSP)

EyePet Review for PlayStation Portable (PSP)

A One-Trick Pony

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.

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

Despite my tone of impending doom regarding this game, EyePet is by no means awful. It has too many faults to keep me interested, but that doesn’t mean you and three other people on the planet won’t enjoy it. If you want to raise a virtual pet in your own home, as in real life, there’s a lot of responsibility. Maybe you’re up to it, or maybe your not. The good thing is your pet won’t die from neglect as in some other pet-rearing games. You can feed it, groom it, dress it, and train it, but these are shallow gameplay aspects that have little bearing on your creature’s health or performance. Like your pet turtle, the fascination will wane and eventually you’ll forget all about it, until in the spring, when you find the skeleton in your backyard. True story.

EyePet Screenshot

Your ultimate responsibility for the continued existence of your pet is not sustenance; it’s mechanical. If you want to play with your pet, you’re going to have to put up with long load times, terrible voiceovers, limited playing area, occasional crashes, and lots of camera-related glitches that even the most saintly of players will find frustrating. Getting set up takes some planning. In order to get your environment onscreen with the magic creature card you have to be mindful of your distance and perspective. A sharper angle is better, as you’ll see better results with the card on the floor while you are in an upright position than you will with the card on a table at waist length. This basically precludes the game from being played while traveling in any kind of vehicle, except perhaps an empty Hercules aircraft.

There is one mode you can play anywhere. It’s the Pet Home. This is where you tend to your pet’s health, hygiene, and haberdashery. The magic card is not required in this mode as it’s presented as a standard game, sans your world. It would be good if you could play the mini-games in this mode during times when you can’t use the card, as this mode is void of any type of challenge with the exception of running an obstacle course with a wooden car. It’s fitting because this mode is a basically a pit stop, one that doesn’t allow you to do more than kick the tires.

The biggest problem is operating the control buttons while watching the screen and keeping the magic card within the magic parameter. Lighting conditions also have to be taken into account, and of course you have to keep the gaming system relatively steady. That’s not easy when you’re used to moving it in relation to the onscreen action. If the camera can’t read the card for any reason, you’ll momentarily lose the pet. Overall the control scheme and menus are easy to execute and access. The music is catchy, if not defiantly optimistic of the game it’s representing. The tutorials are comprehensive, but the voiceovers are absolutely awful. Even young children will realize something’s wrong.

The main feature that sets EyePet apart from other virtual pet games is the augmented reality. At its core, the gameplay is shallow and largely unchallenging. It’s not so much caring for a pet as it entertaining a guest. Save your money, and take your dog for a walk.

You supply most of the environments, but the pet looks convincing if not a little generic. 2.2 Control
The control scheme is simple to learn, but the camera system has lots of glitches. 3.2 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is upbeat and fun. The pet utters cute sounds, but the voiceovers are awful. 2.4 Play Value
The novelty will wear off quickly. This is more of a platformer than a virtual pet game. 2.4 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • EyePet reacts to every movement and command.
  • Pet EyePet and he purrs; tickle him and he laughs; roll a ball and EyePet will chase it.
  • Personalize EyePet to show off your style – modify fur length, color, and pattern and from numerous outfits and other gear.
  • Draw new toys for EyePet and watch them transform into three-dimensional toys in-game.
  • The game utilizes the new PSP camera that will be bundled with game, along with your very own magic card.
  • Let EyePet out of the house and explore your world together. Why not take a stroll in the garden or look for treasures buried in the sand?
  • Packed with toys and activities to exercise your Pet’s brain, body, and creativity. You can even create new toys from your own drawings.
  • When it’s time to go, let your Pet jump into your PSP and look after him while on the move!

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