Eyepet Review (PSP)

Game Review: Eyepet
Release: November 2, 2010
Genre: Pet Simulator
Developer: SCE London Studios
Available Platforms: Sony PSP, Sony PlayStation 3
Players: 1
MSRP: $39.99
ESRB Rating: E

If your Tamagotchi has been lost to the winds, and your Pokemon are too violent, maybe an Eyepet is right up your alley. Sony’s Eyepet games, released on both the PlayStation 3 (with Move capabilities) and PSP (with PSP Camera bundled), take advantage of augmented reality, putting your pet on your living room floor. Is the augmented reality just for fun, or does it actually provide a valid gameplay improvement?

Eyepet comes with both a PSP Camera and a physical card that lets the Eyepet roam around your house, your car, wherever you have the card. Your Eyepet is, at times, tied to that card; if you want your Eyepet running around in augmented reality, you have to have the card in the viewfinder. There is a house he can hang out in, which doesn’t require the card to have adventures with. This house includes everything from the customization menu to racing games and a fish tank.

Much like a Tamagotchi, you have to take care of the little creature, alongside having fun. There are an assortment of minigames to entertain the creature (and theoretically, the player). All your gameplay with the little monster (that you’ll inevitably name “Gizmo”, thanks to Gremlins imprinting that name on society) takes place with the standard PSP controls, alongside some DS-like actions such as blowing on the microphone or moving the camera. There’s no real advancement, such as leveling up, but you can unlock new modifiers on the games, and items for your Eyepet. Effectively, the game is a high-tech Tamagotchi in it’s concept and execution.

The game does try to break ground with it’s augmented reality concept, and has fun with it. It’s nice to see your Eyepet running around your carpet, no matter how bland your layout may be. Young children will have fun with the simple visual trick that is augmented reality. The PSP tries its best with it’s visual capabilities and style, trying to get an Eyepet that looks both functional in an augmented reality and processable on the PSP’s aging hardware.

Out of the sheer number of improvements that could be made, the most notable and easily dismissible ones come from the technical side. This game is a long load time beast, with even the pause menu taking it’s sweet time. Once you finally get past all the credits and titles at the beginning, the game is riddle with load and save times. The other technical issue is the augmented reality concept, which, when it works, is accurate enough… but many times, you need to ensure that nothing is in the way of the card, the lighting’s fine, no ambient noise (when you need to use the microphone), and so forth. It’s modern and groundbreaking technology, which basically means it’s very susceptible to human error and house flaws.

All these issues could be mainly ignored, if only the game was any sort of fun. You have your standard set of pet grooming options (change it’s fur style, attire), complete with the whole “feed and check-up” concepts. You have to take care of the Eyepet, check out x-rays to see if he’s happy and full, alongside play games with the creature. There’s over a half-dozen mini-games to play with, going from driving a miniature car around, catching fish, watering plants… and they’re all dreadfully dull and slow paced. It doesn’t help that most are controller with the slow-moving analog pad or d-pad. At no point are you really controlling the Eyepet; instead, many times you’re either aiming him or dragging a marker around and signaling him to go to a location. These games are incredibly simplistic, only having Game And Watch titles beat them in ease of pick-up-and-play.

Eyepet is a decent concept, but pales in comparison to the inventiveness and fun that Invizimals, another PSP Camera title release in the same time frame, offers. Additionally, it just can’t have the impressive nature of the PS3 version. With the fact that the games included are either straight-out boring or uninteresting, and the game can easily be skipped over.

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