Eyepet & Friends
Developer: SCEE London Studio
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: Playstation 3 / Move (reviewed)
Release Date: Out now
Price: $39.99 (Available Here)
Eyepet was first introduced in 2009 for the Playstation 3. It used augmented reality through the Playstation Eye to give players a virtual pet simulation experience made famous by Tamagotchi in the mid 1990’s. However, Eyepet was one of the first to bring that experience to the home console. Two years later and it has turned into a successful series of games, spanning to the portable scene (PSP) and introducing it to the Playstation Move. This time around, Eyepet focuses on multiplayer with Eyepet & Friends. Is it worth getting for the multiplayer experience?
Eyepet is basically a virtual pet simulation for use on a console. Using the Playstation Eye, players interact with the Eyepet. Eyepet & Friends continues the use of the Playstation Move controller that started with the previous installment, Eyepet: Move Edition. So, within Eyepet & Friends, the core mechanics for both previous installments are basically the same. The objective is to hatch and take care of this little creature. Most often than not the time spent with the Eyepet will be used to play with it. The player can conjure different toys for the Eyepet to play around with. But playing is not the only thing the player can do. There are some required actions that need to be undertaken, such as feeding and grooming the pet. This, in a way, teaches kids in taking responsibility and learning how to care for a pet, if there is consideration of buying an actual pet for the household.
What is required for this game is the Playstation Move, like the Move edition. The Playstation Move is the main input of interaction between the player and the Eyepet, despite the fact that the series was introduced before the introduction of the Move. With the Playstation Move, players will feed, clean and play with the Eyepet. For example, the Move can be turned into a laser pointer. The Eyepet will then chase it around, creating some amusement for itself, as well as for the player. Other items also include a small water gun, which the player sprays over the Eyepet (and their surroundings, creating a wet effect for their living room) and a trampoline for the Eyepet to jump on. The Move controller is also used to take care of the pet, for example, turning into a shower head for washing. The way it responds is quite astonishing. It works very well. It is not perfect, but it is very accurate and responsive.
The major addition to the series is the implementation of a multiplayer system. If another player has a Move controller, then they may include a second Eyepet to join the game. This does cover ground that is new to the series. With this second player and their Eyepet, competitive multiplayer games can be played. These challenges can be quite fun for the younger audience. However, despite the fun that can be had, the sense of individualism is ripe. Both Eyepets will have interactions with Each other, but can also be at a minimum. Also, when a player earns pet tokens, it will only be for that player’s Eyepet, thus creating two separate pools of tokens instead of one, which would develop team work to achieve a goal. There are co-operative modes of play as well, so it would have made sense to have only one pool. Plus, the players would have reached their intended items to purchase much quicker with the one pool.
The game’s strength lies with the vast amount of customisation. This starts when that little Eyepet hatches from its egg. Players can groom their Eyepet with great detail, all the way down to customising individual limbs with freehand drawings. Fur colour, length and so much more can create the perfect Eyepet. Then there are the hundreds of clothing options available to dress up the Eyepet. Better yet, the clothes can be doodled on or covered in stickers. This allows the player to really create their very unique Eyepet, increasing the chance of the player to become attached to their Eyepet. In order to unlock the vast amount of clothing items, as well as new toys for the Eyepet to play with, players must collect pet tokens. Pet tokens are collected for completing tasks, which can be as basic as feeding it. This customisation expands into the online world, as both outfits and vehicles (which can be decorated with stickers and doodles, like everything else) can be uploaded and shared. One can also download other people’s outfits and vehicles.
However, Eyepet & Friends does suffer something that can decide on whether will continue to take care for their virtual pet of not. This would be the long loading times. To move from one thing to another, the game needs to load. The loading can be quite long in a game where one wants to continuously play with their Eyepet. Adding onto this loading problem is how frequent the game actually needs to load. When the player wants to switch from one activity to another, say from feeding to playing with toys, the game needs to load. It is not instantaneous. This happens with every activity switch, adding to what could be some frustration for the player.
Visual and Audio
The Playstation Eye does not have the best resolution in terms of video output. More often than not, the picture is low quality and grainy. Eyepet & Friends is no exception, but it lies with the hardware, not the developers. The Eyepet themselves look quite good. However, when there are two on the screen, it can affect the game. There is a frame rate drop when there are two on the screen. If they are both wearing complex outfits, it adds to the frame rate drop, so potentially there will be a slow game running on a grainy video feed of the player’s gaming area. Other than that, character models and animations, when not putting the hardware under stress, are quite smooth and very well detailed.
The audio fits with the overall atmosphere of the game, but it isn’t memorable. However, there is a very annoying voice that plagues the Eyepet experience. When the player does an activity for the first time, they will be greeted with this voice giving instructions on how to do said activity. The forced voice over can be indirectly linked to a lack of trial and error in the beginning (the way the beginning was designed would be the main culprit). It is also delayed for quite sometime. It is relief, then, that the voice can be skipped altogether.
Eyepet & Friends can be a fun game for younger children. There is quite a bit to do, like challenges and vast customisation, as well as teaching valuable life lessons, like responsibility and financial management through tokens. Sadly, the game can be frustrating with long load times and massive frame rate drops with two complex clothed Eyepets, which can be the decision on whether the game is worth playing again. Nonetheless, the younger kids will enjoy taking care of their little ones and prove that they are worthy of having a real pet.