Judging EyePet against the AAA titles of the holiday season is severely unfair, it’s literally like comparing a cute kitten with a lion deep in the Jungle. Both do their given jobs especially well, appealing to different audiences, and, in EyePet’s case, different age groups. EyePet & Friends is the first disc-based sequel to the original EyePet which was the first truly impressive game on the Playstation Eye back in 2007. Including much of what made it into the re-bundled EyePet Move Edition and free DLC updates, the main draw here is that the adorableness factor has been doubled, there’s literally two EyePets rather than one this time around.
With this in mind, those who enjoyed the original game, with kids or younger relatives most likely, will know what to expect here. The PlayStation Move controller is essential for this version, which improved the already impressive camera mechanics into something much more accurate and tactile. Unfortunately, whilethe game’s interface is extremely intuative, the long introduction to the mechanics, althoughuseful for anyone who hasn’t played before, will be wearing for those with previous EyePet experience, while the loading times are slow throughout. These long loading spells are particularly disappointing as this isn’t the first game in the series and they can break the flow between activities. A flow that’s essential for keeping some easily distracted children interested for a lengthy period of time.
When it eventually comes time to hatch your EyePet – a hybrid between a dog, monkey and a cat (which is much cuter than you would first expect) – this time, unlike in the original, you’ll discover that he/she isn’t alone, with multiple EyePet’s on screen interacting with each other from the off. The game is designed specifically for kids to play together, with friends or siblings working with each other, or older children helping younger ones. It’s a bigger change than you would anticipate, and the added interaction should be taken note if you suffered with space issues when setting up your Playstation Eye last time. With the camera tilted towards the floor, it can get a little crowded with two EyePets and two people taking up screen space, but this isn’t too much of an issue if you have enough room.
The Move support is top notch as ever, with the simplest tasks, like washing your pet, being the most enjoyable. Even hardened gamers who turn their noses up at DS pet sim Nintendogs will crack a smile as their EyePet rolls his shoulders enjoying the soapy suds, or looks at you sternly as you spray water on him. If set up properly, you always know where to direct the Move controller, with the depth perception only encountering problems if you haven’t got the optimal set up. There are plenty of other uses for the Move, such as drawing vehicles and toys for the EyePet to play with, one of the simplest treasures being the laser pointer that your EyePet will go mad for as they try to understand why they cant grab the glowing dot.
It was in moments like this that I was impressed with how accurate the personality of the EyePet is. I could substitute my cat from home into most of these situations and she would react in the same way. This is the true magic of EyePet, this being the closest thing to a real life pet for kids who may not be able to house an animal at home, and the lack of mess is an added bonus too. In this way, EyePet & Friends was a necessary steps forward for the game, the interactions between EyePets being especially enjoyable. Seeing them become jealous of the attention the other pet is getting, or pushing each other out of the way to the food bowl are subtle things that make this a much more complete experience.
This sentiment is how I like to think of EyePet & Friends, a necessary step forward for the series that doesn’t try much more than the main selling point. The bargain price is a nice touch too, as it makes this both the perfect entry point for families who don’t already own EyePet, and a great way to extend the experience over the holiday season for those who do. Load times are a niggling issue, and you do need a lot of space to iron out some issues with the Playstation Move. That said though, EyePet & Friends is definitely one of the best family titles on PS3, and is one of the best picks for the target audience this Christmas.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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