Review / EyePet (PSP)

EyePet PSP is one of those games that make you think “How’s that going to work?” when you first hear about it. Sure, the PSP has its own camera but I thought the PS3 was pushing its power with its own edition of the game. I said the same thing about LittleBigPlanet PSP last year, which – amazingly – ended up nearly matching its bigger brother. Turns out the same holds true here; EyePet is a very impressive piece of kit that shows the PSP still has a few tricks up its sleeve.

That’s not to say that you, Mr Hardcore Gamer right there, are going to have your heart of stone melted by this furry beast; even with his huge eyes and little tale that make me just want to pick him up and cuddle and stroke him all day. Okay, maybe it got to me a bit, but I still more than recommend this one to you if you want to entertain your kids.

The game takes the simple template of the PS3 version and adapts it, shaving off bits here and there to fit the PSP’s capabilities. A magic card comes packed in the box – similar to the pre-Move version of the PS3 game – which you lay on a surface. The PSP camera then registers the card and creates a virtual service for your pet to run around on. It acts as if your pet was in the room, displaying whatever the camera sees on the screen, while your pet itself is a big virtual ball of fluff. If the camera can’t see the card, your pet will float around in a bubble for a while.

You’ll notice the advantages of being on PSP immediately; as your adorable little monkey/cat/thing hatches you can move the system around freely. As long as the card is in sight, you can bring the PSP forward to get right up close to your pet’s face, or bring it further back to allow him more space to play. You can even roll the system from side to side while it’s in an egg to get him spinning around. It’s a surprisingly reliable feature and I didn’t struggle setting the game up at all unlike the years of confusion it takes to get your PS3 pet up and running.

Once you’re new friend has been introduced to the big wide world and you’ve named it, you’re pretty much able to do whatever you want. There’s a pet home where you can feed/wash/dress the little guy, although you’ll be using the d-pad to do all these things; the game isn’t as reliant on motion controls to look after your pet.

You’ll have a lot of freedom when it comes to designing him; you can change fur type, length, color, and even fit him with new clothes that arrive daily. Once I’d named mine “Miestro”, colored him white and given him the longest fur possible, I recorded a call for my pet to answer to. You’re meant to whistle into the PSP microphone, and then press R to hear that whistle call your pet. It works well, maybe a little too well; I live in a student house and needless to say if I put my system down even for a second my Pet’s call turned into something very different and… unpleasant most of the time.

Anyway, past all of this, the other thing you’ve got to do with your pet is play with him of course. EyePet comes with a bunch of minigames like bowling, fishing, or driving toy cars. Each game has a set of challenges for you to meet, though this being a children’s title, none of them are that hard. The games tend to rely on the analogue nub/d-pad to control, which doesn’t quite have the “wow factor” for kids as Move-enabled version might. Still, the games are easy to get along with; not offering much challenge but certainly being entertaining for the short periods of time you’ll play them for in one sitting.

Something the game does lack though is the specific structure of the PS3 game. Challenges aren’t spread out in the same daily format, and there aren’t as many to do. Without this, it’s easy to see all EyePet offers in a very small amount of time, and then it’s dependent on if you enjoy doing the tasks with no real amazing rewards to see if you’re going to come back for more or not.

That said, I’m sure a kid would have plenty of time for this game. It’s colourful, different, and doesn’t suffer from the same awkward camera systems that the PS3 version does. If you’re letting your PSP sit on the side until something like God of War: Ghost of Sparta then I have no problem recommending that you give it to someone younger armed with a copy of EyePet. They’ll certainly get a kick out of it.

+ Impressive technology works almost without a hitch
+ Range of games and activities sure to keep kids entertained

– Lacks a huge amount of challenge
– Structure doesn’t encourage much progression