Eyepet and Friends
Developer: London Studio/Climax
Publisher: SCEE
Release Date: Out Now
Players/Online features: 1-2
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EyePet and Friends is a PlayStation Move compatible sequel of the original game we liked so much two years ago. The original game was also updated to have Move compatibility and this fixed a few of the issues we had with it. For one thing, the rather fiddly, easily lost or damaged “magic card” has gone, to be replaced by the considerably more ergonomic and kiddy-friendly Move motion controller. For EyePet and Friends the motion controller becomes a selection of tools, from a shower head to shampoo dispenser, hair dryer, food scoop, X-ray health scanner, laser pointer... as well as being the way you control and manipulate the toys and various other items you use to keep your EyePet healthy and happy.

If you’re new to EyePet then the hatching of your pet will be a cute and possibly emotional moment. If you’ve done it before you’ll wonder why you can’t just use your old one and get on with it, as the hatching process is kind of tedious the second or third time of asking and also inexplicably mixes the use of the Move controller and ordinary hand movements to tap on the egg.

Once your pet is hatched you can get to know it, give it the runaround and tease it mercilessly with a variety of torture instruments... well, they’re actually just a laser pointer that it chases, a water pistol that it runs away from and a trampoline that it will bounce on all day if you can keep it under your pet with delicate movements of the Move controller. And they call this Playtime!

The wacky but likeable mad professor from the original game has, for some reason, been replaced by an over-caffeinated children’s TV presenter. You WILL want to shoot this guy after a while as he insists on excitedly telling you how to do EVERYTHING, so it’s handy to know that pressing the ‘Triangle’ button quits his tutorial so you can get to the game/pastime in hand. You will then probably realise that you don’t know all the controls and so slink back to his tutorial with your tail between your intolerant legs (or maybe that was just me).

Vehicle-related pastimes in the Toy Box are the best way to earn credits and the first two are Digger Hoops, a game that involves scooping up basketballs so EyePet can dunk them (someone rather unkindly remarked that the digger has better handling and physics than Climax’s last Moto GP game), and Ricochet Range that would appear to require as little interaction from you as possible as you simply shove the ball at the Pinball-like scoring panels and then get out of the way until the ball comes to a rest again. Other games involving a boat, rocket, flying saucer, submarine and helicopter are all cute and highly playable, but I’m not sure you’d revisit them too often unless you were ‘paid’ to, so it’s just as well you are. For some reason the games were designed by communists so it doesn’t matter how well or badly you score, i.e. I zoom around like Stingray pilot Troy Tempest to collect coins in Submarine Challenge, score 1600 points and get rewarded with 150 tokens. I restart the game, go and get a coffee while leaving the sub sat on the bottom of the sea getting repeatedly stung by an electric eel (seems like an odd choice of aquarium pet) and score 480, and get rewarded with... you guessed it... 150 tokens! This is odd, even in our messed-up, post-Blairite non-competitive PC Britain...

The loading screens are animated with an EyePet (not yours, a generic brown one, and ours came out of the egg with blue fur, so this might be disappointing/confusing for observant kids) doing a pre-rendered selection of cute and amusing activities, and this is just as well because you or the kids will be staring at loading screens quite a bit. The game involves frequent loading (inexplicably at times) and it’s not quick. Want to call your pet? – 25-30 seconds loading. Play a game? Loading. Perform a basic activity like feeding the pet? MORE LOADING. Given the attention span of most kids today I can see them wandering off to play in the road after a few of the loading spells necessary for the most basic of tasks in the game.

The game’s menus are well laid out and easy to navigate with the Move motion controller. The Creativity Centre contains Paper Craft (you can make cards and stickers), Toy Factory (make personalised toys for use in the games; tractor, rocket, flying saucer, submarine, helicopter, boat etc.). Fancy Dress is where you can change the appearance of your pet, including the colour, pattern and length of its fur, and should you be so inclined dress it in clothes that are bought with tokens. Soft Play Creation is where you can customise your blocks with a selection of colours and patterns for use in the soft play area.

The Pet Care section contains a health scan, feeding (cookies no less!), shower time to clean the pet, and Training. After feeding, grooming and training the little guy a health scan revealed that my pet had an active brain and was well fed and happy, but was ‘weak’ so exercise was recommended-specifically trampolining. Having done a hundred or more bounces I decided that was probably enough so went and scanned him again, this time he was well-fed and happy, with strong muscles, but was now bored-suggested activity: MORE bouncing! More bouncing resulted in an ‘OK’ brain but was now ‘lonely’ I mean how the fu...heck can it be lonely? I’d been working my ASS off to keep it fed, clean and exercised and now it’s sad? I’m all for giving the kids something to do, but weigh them down with this high maintenance little fuuu.... fuzzbutt? NO WAY. Bollocks to that – I know what’d happen in our house – “Daddy, can you look after my EyePet?”

In ‘training’ the ‘trick stick’ allows you to draw a rainbow line on-screen and your EyePet can be taught to recognise certain shapes and symbols as a prompt to perform tricks like playing dead or dancing. I began to like it most when it played dead...

Pet World is basically ‘PlayStation Home’ for EyePets. Once you’ve gone online and clicked through the EULA agreement, you can upload anything you want to share or show off to other EyePet owners and view and rate their stuff too. My Stuff is where all your photos, videos, created items, high scores and trophies are stored. A visit to the Eyepet Store quits the game and takes you to the EyePet section of the main PlayStation store, but there’s nothing actually available for it at the time of writing.

To add to the fun you can have more than one EyePet, and even play with 2 EyePets at a time if you have 2 Move motion controllers. This adds a bit of fun and even a competitive element, but the pets don’t actually seem to interact with each other.

I was hoping for more from this EyePet sequel, and although there’s a ton to do I’m not sure any of it is enough fun or presented well enough to induce anyone to do it for long. One thing’s for sure, with Christmas around the corner EyePet is still probably an excellent way of finding out if your kids could actually look after a real pet; After all Eyepets don’t whine all night or poop on the carpet...

>Buy EyePet and Friends from ShopTo.net<

Best Bits

- EyePet is back, with Move controls, and it can have a friend round to play!
- Loads to do and tokens to earn.
Worst Bits

- Maybe too much to do and too many tokens to earn.
- Intrusive loading times.

by: Masonic Dragicoot

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