PS3 Review – EyePet & Friends

A little game called EyePet made its debut in 2009, bringing a cute little pet to households everywhere. The game stuttered a bit at launch due to some major flaws but was fixed up a bit with the Move Edition that released later.  In the latest sequel, EyePet & Friends, two people can take multiple pets and have some fun.

The big difference this time around is the fact that two people can now take control and hatch their very own pets, hence the “ & Friends” part of the title. You begin the game by naming your pet and then going through the process of having your egg hatch and then showing your newly born pet that it can trust you. Once this is completed, you are on your way to feeding, bathing, and playing with your pet in a series of different environments and activities. The game uses the PlayStation Eye and your carpet to bring the pet to life, so make sure you have a fair amount of space available in front of your TV and a good deal of light available.

The name of the game in EyePet & Friends is playtime, and there is plenty of it to be found. Whether your teaching your pet how to do the moonwalk with the trick stick, building blocks for it to climb on, or having it chase around your laser pointer, there is all sorts of fun to be had with the furry little guy. Just like with the previous games, the motion controller can be changed to suit different toys and is easy to use, making it easy for kids to pick up and play with their pets. There are also tons of different challenges to take part in, whether alone or competitively against your friend and his/her pet. These challenges include things like using a digger to put basketball goals in a net and abducting aliens with a UFO. Each game is easily controlled with the motion controller and surprisingly, a lot of fun, no matter what age group you fall in.

Not everything is about playing though, as gamers must keep the needs to of their pets in mind, such as the need to eat and take regular showers. Luckily you can’t starve your pet, but the little guy will let you know when he needs something. Just in case you miss his hints though, there is a handy health monitor that tells you the pets status and provides a suggestion on what activity to take next. Your pet needs are broken down into four different categories; food, bath, heart, and muscles. It will be up to you to keep the pet happy on all fronts, though it’s not really that hard to do so.

Where this game really shines is the amount of customization. Not only can you change the fur on your pet, but also his shirt, hat, pants, and even a mask. Nothing better than a hockey-playing monkey with steam punk goggles if I do say so myself. The fur can be set to different patterns and colors, even the length can be adjusted to make this pet feel unique to you. Along with the pet, players can also customize building blocks and one of 6 different vehicles to be found in the game, adding stickers, colors, and even your own doodles to make for some interesting rides. The options here to customize are good, but it would have been nice to see a bit more freedom, especially when creating blocks, as you can only change the aesthetics of the block, and not the actual shape. All of these ways of customization can be saved at anytime and used elsewhere, or loaded back up when you want to make changes. All of this customization is handled through pet tokens, which you collect through various activities. These tokens can then be used to buy new outfits, stickers, and block themes.

The game and customization go online as well, as you can transfer vehicles and clothes online with friends or you can upload them to your Pet World portal, where anyone can take a gander or borrow your creation. You too can flick through tons of public uploads and take anything that looks good into your world. Don’t worry parents, there are some strict parental controls to be found, allowing you to completely block the Pet World portal. A rating system is in place to put the best stuff first and inappropriate items can be reported, allowing for the community to police itself.

All this good but we would be wrong to not mention some of the huge misadventures that this game brings with it. By far the biggest issue to be found in the game is the lengthy load times between tasks. This is not just in the first load of any given event, but every time you switch from a bath, to feeding, or to the creativity center. These load times can be a bit outrages and it is asking a lot of some kids and adults to sit through loading screens every time you want to give your pet a treat. In fact, I clocked some load times at between 30 and 45 seconds, which is a bit much for a game that is all about freely playing with a pet.

Another issue is the excessive and annoying voice work that the game employs. There is no trial or error in this game, as every time you load up an activity for the first time, you are greeted by a voice telling you exactly what to do. The problem here is that the voice is always extremely delayed, giving players a good 10 seconds of freely trying to do the task, only to have their progress stopped by a pop up displaying what to do and a voice. This all is especially frustrating at the beginning of the game, when you haven’t gone anywhere and every two seconds it feels as though you are prompted with new instructions, causing the opening bit of the game to stutter a bit. You can skip past the guy’s voice at any time, but it’s still annoying and something that could have been remedied with on-screen prompts that still allowed players to move around.

A few more issues will eat away at the overall enjoyment, as the game tends to have some slight technical snags and lagging when going for the two-player experience. There are recognition issues when you get multiple hands trying to handle the pet and the creation options tend to have some issues chugging about when two people are playing. At times, the loading screen even has some issues, with a few times in particular where the entire load screen froze up. The pet also has a few issues, with some messed up textures flickering about, especially when you put on clothes. None of these issues kill the overall experience as they don’t happen that often, but when they do, it can take some wind out of your sail.

EyePet & Friends adds a wealth of new creative options to the brand while leaving intact the stuff that made the original so well received. The biggest addition, adding another pet on-screen, is a big boost for those with a multiple kid household, but it would have been nice to see a few more interactive options between the two pets. Kids and adults should find plenty of family fun here, with plenty of mini-games, horsing around, and one or two cute pets to raise as your own. The game doesn’t come out unscathed, as the long load times kill much of the flow in the game and could leave some of the more impatient kids/families searching for something else to do. This, along with other minor technical issues hamper this game from realizing its full potential. If you can get past that though, this is a game that is sure to keep you and your family entertained and coming back for more.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+Plenty of Options to Customize

+Addition of Second Player Works Great

-Is it Still Loading up the Next Activity?

6 out of 10