Sonyâ€™s latest venture into the virtual pet world is one of the most advanced Iâ€™ve seen - and having played almost every creature-related title and owning several Tamagotchis, among various other virtual pets, I jumped at the chance to take an Eye Pet home.
The initial setup required a lot more room than most titles - even Wii games can be played with minimal space. Eye Pet, however, said outright that you should play on the living room floor; this isnâ€™t something you can set up on a desk to play, unless itâ€™s an exceptionally large desk. However, after moving the monitor, clearing some space and making a lot of noise, I was ready to play.
Once youâ€™ve set it up based on the gameâ€™s strict instructions, the game kicks off in typical virtual pet style: by naming it, dressing it, and learning a few pet care basics such as washing, feeding and exercise. Your petâ€™s health is monitored from the Eye Pet menu along with all the various activities you can do with your pet. Itâ€™s a good idea to keep a close eye on their health and send off a report whenever you scan it. After sending the reports, you'll get feedback and a new item - and occasionally a trophy.
When interacting with the Eye Pet â€“ scanning its health, feeding, or bath â€“ the Magic Card comes into play. Coupled with the PlayStation Eye, it allows you to use tools, such as a sprinkler or shampoo for showers and a scanner for monitoring your petâ€™s health. When playing with toys such as the virtual trampoline or bubble generator, you can move them around by moving the magic card.
The games and assorted challenges are essentially mini-games, some involve making your Eye Pet jumping to catch food, running around, and having photos taken. One of the more interesting activities to do is teaching your pet to draw. The game gives you a picture to draw, and the Eye Pet will copy your version of the picture. As you progress, more games and challenges become available, including an extension of the drawing in which your pet creates a 3D version of the picture.
Completing the pictures based on the game's instructions unlocks prizes, typically a piece of new clothing or a toy. However, if you're feeling especially creative or just looking to kill some time, you can draw anything and your pet will recreate it.
The pictures you draw can also be put on your Eye Petâ€™s clothes, and styling your pet is half the fun. Thereâ€™s even a small Eye Pet store on PlayStation Network to buy new clothes, where there's a free clothes pack to download - doing so scores you one of the titleâ€™s trophies.
When it comes to human/pet interaction such as petting or abuse, Sonyâ€™s London Studio has been careful to avoid letting people really knock around the Eye Pet: you canâ€™t kick or slap it, however you can tickle and pet your Eye Pet and watch it roll around.
Eye Pet is one of the most innovative virtual pet titles around, and a seemingly natural step in the evolution of the genre. Although itâ€™s marketed towards the kids, even adult gamers may find a spot in their collection for this innovative little pet simulation.