281st played so far

2013_05_05_16_27_14_287Genre: Simulation
Platform: Playstation 3
Year of Release: 2009
Developer: SCE London Studio/Playlogic Game Factory
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment

Virtual pet games seem to be one of those love and hate things for me. Yeah, I’ve been there for the Tamagotchi craze (via, to be fair, one of its rip-offs), but it lost my interest soon enough. My love of toy pets peaked with my Furbys (that’s plural) Co-Co and Dahlola; neither of which I have had the heart to throw away because of that 5 year old part of my brain that sees them as alive.

The increased power available to most home systems has allowed for a lot more options to play with compared to a small handheld egg, with the simulations going further back – after all, Little Computer People is effectively one, although this probably looks more of a precursor to The Sims.  More visibly there’s something like Creatures, guiding furry creatures through a big world and care for them. We’ll be looking at Nintendogs at some point too, a similar example.

Eyepet is Sony’s entry into the genre, in this case making use of the Eye camera to bring the creature into our world. A promising development – but virtual reality has often seemed a bit… well… lame. Does it work now?

Our Thoughts

We’ll go into the downsides of the game in a bit (which influenced a lot of our early gameplay) and start with how the game felt after we’d been playing for a while. And you know what? It was adorable. There’s flaws, there’s issues, but looking at the TV screen and seeing a monkey on the floor… it melts your heart.

It’s actually quite telling that despite technical issues, your pet sitting in a place that it technically can’t be at – with where your hand is petting it also requiring your pet to float a few inches in the air. Even then though, seeing your pet chase after your hand, jumping up to catch it and falling asleep as you pet it and stroke its belly, it steals your heart.

It took a while to set in though. First, we only had the game’s cover to use as the magic card – the card used to say where items are in the world and interact with parts of the game. That cover is glossy – nicely reflective and all that – making it difficult for the camera to pick it up. After a while we made a normal paper copy, which worked mostly. Still not great though, I’ll admit – the camera just doesn’t seem accurate enough to pick up on everything.

Added to that is that you need to make certain gestures to do things in the game and those gestures, too, can be a bit tricky. In particular, at one point you need to push an egg from side to side – with the game not recognizing that half the time. The control ideas are nice, but could do with some tweaking at times.

Still, once you adjust to the difficulties it becomes fun. While the initial introduction to the game are basic pet care – feed it, wash it and so on – the fun comes in later. The first minigame is bowling using your pet (it sits waiting, tongue out of its mouth, ready to roll, jumping back enthusiastically after it rolls out of the screen). And then you teach your pet to draw. He tries to imitate you (and yeah, becomes as good as drawing as you).

And he’ll live in a hole under your floor forever.

Final Thoughts

This game isn’t that complex in gameplay. It looks good – the right sort of cartoony. And it has its issues in places. But it’s a pet simulation. It’s not meant to be fully interactive. It’s meant to make you smile and to be cute. And that’s something it accomplishes – more than any other game like it that I’ve played.

Compared to Jeroen it is far easier to manipulate my emotions. The music of the first area of Kirby’s Epic Yarn is enough to make me want to cry (as is the photo album music in Pokémon Snap). Also, as I mentioned earlier, the idea of throwing away my old Furbys makes me feel incredibly sad. I also felt pangs of guilt when I was on holiday and unable to check on my original village in Animal Crossing.  As such this game appeared tailor-made to tug on my heartstrings… once we got over the initial non-responsiveness that is.

  1. […] skipped really dealing with these sorts of ‘pet simulations’, with Eyepet being the other main item on the list (that isn’t a life simulation where you’re […]