Despite the overload of cuteness and the easy going mini-games it offers, the PSP iteration of EyePet isn’t as refined or interactive as the PS3 version is. That’s to be expected when a PS3 game gets a PSP port, but in the process of making the jump to the PSP the game loses a lot of its charm and encounters some nagging issues that put a hamper on the experience. EyePet PSP is a well-produced game that has some nice augmented reality tech, but as a whole the game doesn’t match the experience that’s to be had on the PS3 version of EyePet.
The amount of detail on EyePet is impressive as it sports some nice fur textures. With quite a few mini-games available, I never found myself bored as each provides a nice amount of challenge. When it works, the augmented reality tech is really impressive due to the scale and items it presents.
Not being able to interact with the EyePet is a big downer. It’s required for the PSP camera to have a constant and very proper view of the magic card while playing otherwise the game will just stop until you line things up again. The amount of space required for some of the mini-games kind of kills the portable nature of the game. The load times can be really long at times.
As much pillaging and reckless behavior gamers cause while playing games like Call of Duty, God of War or games of a similar ilk, that doesn’t mean gamers can’t sit back and play a relaxing albeit simplified game. Earlier this year, Sony launched the EyePet franchise for the PS3 which had gamers using the PlayStation Eye and subsequently the PlayStation Move to control a small yet extremely lovable pet. EyePet didn’t feature platforming, explosions galore or a stoic hero that occasionally sprouted an expletive upon dispatching an enemy. All it had was one loveable little critter and quite a few mini-games to keep gamers busy, and for the most part it succeeded. Now thanks to the ever growing rise of augmented reality gaming, the EyePet franchise is hitting the PSP out of all places in a game that captures the EyePet feel but suffers a bit in the newfound “portability” it offers.
Ok, so the basic premise of EyePet is that you’re the owner of a newly hatched pet that just so happens to be cute as hell. The EyePet itself is part dog, part cat, part monkey and all sorts of cuteness combined with a hint of Gizmo thrown in for good measure. One of the things that made the PS3 version of EyePet so good was the visuals of the EyePet itself as it featured stunning animation and nicely rendered fur. Even scaled down a bit for the PSP I was genuinely surprised at how good the EyePet looked visually as the model didn’t seem to be too downgraded. Obviously it didn’t have the same wow factor as its advanced PS3 cousin, but it still looked quite good.
EyePet in a way isn’t a game, at least not a regular one per say. Yeah, you can have your EyePet play various mini-games but the game as a whole has a very carefree attitude about it as there aren’t any missions or requirements aside from keeping your EyePet healthy and happy, which you can check on using an x-ray scanner. Even though EyePet is a virtual pet, it’s not required to play every day so it’s not like playing the game will become an actual burden over time. The mini-games available to keep your EyePet busy are fun as they range from fishing, bowling (my favorite due to how silly it looks) and several others all which yield new pieces of clothing to adorn your EyePet upon completion. The mini-games may sound simple but are a bit challenging in terms of racking up good scores and actually tend to be quite long as they last anywhere from five to ten minutes.
A quick round of bowling in EyePet PSP.
Back when EyePet launched on the PS3 it was a game unlike anything we’ve seen. Even now with the Microsoft Kinect being released and games like Kinectimals being on the market, the experience provided by EyePet is one that’s very personable. As odd as that may sound, the ability to see a digital furry critter roam around your apartment and then interact with it to a degree is something that still hasn’t been matched in gaming so far. There’s of course the debate as to whether we really need games like EyePet but even the haters can’t knock the game too much as it featured some impressive tech. Using the new PSP camera (which was also used for Invizimals), EyePet doesn’t quite manage to attain that personal connection for a few key reasons.
The main culprit to EyePet’s issues actually lies within how it’s for the PSP. Such a statement may illicit odd looks upon reading but it’s the truth. On the surface a lot of the things in EyePet work quite well. The EyePet itself looks nice, the game has a nice amount of content and it retains the easy going nature that the PS3 version had. The problem is that a lot of the issues I had while playing the game occurred due to the PSP camera and how EyePet is played. The PSP camera itself is quite a wonderful piece of hardware as evident by Invizimals and the time I’ve spent with it taking photos and videos of random things. Unlike the PS3 version which used the long range view of the PS Eye, EyePet requires two things in order to play: 1. a special “magic card” in which the EyePet and games sprout out from and 2. a very unrestricted view of said magic card along with extremely steady hands.
During my time with Invizimals, a game which also required the PSP to view a card in order to play, I didn’t run into too many issues. Sure, every now and then during the heat of combat I would move the PSP too much which resulted in the game essentially stopping until the card was in view of the camera. I encountered such problems again in EyePet but this time they occurred more often, something I attribute to one key thing: at times you need a lot of space to play the mini-games.
Since each mini-game in EyePet is different that means the amount of playing space varies. For the bowling game I only had to move back a bit from the magic card but for other games such as the racing or fishing one, you literally need a playing space of 10”x12” inches. Of course this raises an issue as it limits the portability of EyePet along with requiring the player to have a steady pair of hands while holding the PSP. Maybe it’s just me not being the most patient of chaps, but I found it to be a bit annoying to be playing a mini-game only for a slight movement to result in the game disappearing, due to the camera not aiming directly at the camera, or very brief screen glitches occurring during gameplay.
EyePet goes fishing.
The use of a card for EyePet’s augmented reality also means one other thing: you can’t touch or interact with the pet like you could on the PS3 version. It may not sound like that big of a deal but it was always cool to “pet” the EyePet and see the little critter react as it added a sense of realism and that much needed personal touch. With that missing EyePet PSP has lost some of its charm and soul, even keeping in mind some of the technical limitations the PSP version may have faced.
For what it offers and what it does well, EyePet PSP is kind of in an odd place. On one side of the equation the game provides an easy going and fun experience that will please young gamers or those older ones who want something chill to play when they’re not popping heads in Black Ops. But on the other hand the game is marred by some technical issues involving the PSP camera, the required magic card and a lack interaction between the EyePet and the player. For gamers who have a PS3 I wholeheartedly recommend they check out that version as EyePet PSP seems like it was hatched from its egg a bit too early.