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Playstation have recently released the "move" controller in the UK, and the Eye Pet Move game is one the rather limited titles available at present. For those who don't know what the move controller is, basically it enables a player to control the game with a stick with a ping-pong ball type thing on the end, with pinpoint accuracy due to the fact that the console picks up where the controller is via a camera.
If buying the game from scratch you will need a move controller and camera, this game does seem to be in many of the bundles on offer at the moment, we acquired it as Sony made the Eyepet move edition available to all owners of the edtion of the game released pre move controller via free download (a moment of uncharacteristic Sony generosity I feel).
Having played our way through the original game, we were keen to see what the move version was like. The premise of the game is that you hatch, nurture and play with an onscreen and fully interactive pet - as the camera is used you can see yourself on screen as he eats, plays and grows and runs around the room.
The original game was controlled with a 2-D card, this is replaced with the move controller - the move controller can be seen on the screen and has graphics superimposed on it, so at any time you might appear to be holding a shower, a fishing net, a cup full of cookies or a bowling glove. It's a little hard to imagine, so you will just have to trust me when I say it's very convincing.
The whole concept of this game is very, very clever, and the experience of playing with it is further enhanced by the game having an element of challenge. When you receive your eyepet, as an egg, you have to nurture him and complete various challenges in order to progress through various "days" of ownership, which see your eyepet getting older - though thankfully never getting old or dying! As you progress you win various extra outfits and medals which adds interest to the game, the level of challenge is spot on in my experience.
I should also say that the move edition is considerably much less frustrating than it's predecessor, the move controller really adds to the gaming experience here in my opinion. I have to admit to having found myself holding the controller and really believing it was a microphone for an instant - in one of the games you sing and then the pet copies you - I did feel a bit ridiculous when I realised I was doing this, but it does demonstrate what a good job the developers have done in adapting what was already a very good game for "move".
As you progress through the game, you can take photos of your creation, draw with him and play games such as snap and tennis. Gameplay is varied, with most of the games being quite intuitive - even the youngest child seems to understand how to use the controller as a watering can to water seeds they have planted, or how to paint on the screen with the controller as a paintbrush.
Compared to the original, the controlling of the move edition is easy, though as I have already mentioned elsewhere, the move controller is a little too big for little hands, and this does make gameplay tricky in some ways, but not impossible for those under 6 or so. You mainly control the game with the move controller and the "trigger" or "play button" with some need for the x or square button to access the menu.
Though not multi-player as such, some of the games do allow children to play all at once - to flatten virtual weeds with their hands all together, or make balloons float. If it sounds magical, it's because it really is - you can draw your own plane, have it rendered in 3-D by your pet and then fly it around the room! Our favourite activities are probably growing flowers - you can harvest your own strawberries to be made into cookies, and fishing is also fun - you can make your own virtual aquarium. It is a very varied game.
Like an old-skool tamagotchi you do have to keep your pet happy, fed and stimulated - if you don't wash him for a while he gets a little stinky looking, you can scan him (with the controller transformed into a scanner) to see his overall health and send off a health report. Though you can advance in the various challenges you can just also play with a toy with the eyepet or take his picture, the eyepet works on many different levels and is really a very original idea. My kids being girls, they really enjoy changing their pet's fur and clothes on a regular basis - when you have played for a while you amass a whole array of outfits and so the pet can really be made your own.
The graphics for this game are of normal PS3 HD quality, the eyepet is quite cute and the add ons to the controller are seamless. It really does look like you are holding a real net or balloon blower. What is amazing to me, and noticeably better than playing with, say, the wii, is that when you turn your net or racket through any angle, the move controller represents the image perfectly on screen at any angle - move away from the screen and items you are holding get smaller - it's very convincing!
Though the quality of the graphics of the eyepet are always good, the quality of the image you see on screen of yourself will vary depending on the light conditions - this is due to the camera which works less well in poor light.
The game has a quite cutesy look and is really aimed at the very young but is great fun for adults too. It is testament to how clever and well designed this game is that you can almost believe that the pet is in the room with you, and marvel as a butterfly flutters around the room or your eyepet appears to float in a bubble you have blown. You can interact with your pet, so stroke him to sleep or make him jump by clapping, his expressions and movement are very realistic.
Other aspects of the Game and Longevity:
One thing that is a bit annoying about this game is the music, which is of the ear worm variety, but this doesn't seem to worry my children. As you can have several eyepets at one time, all in various stages of development, we have found the game to have quite long term appeal.
You can buy add ons for the eyepet from the sony online store - extra outfits and the like, there have also been some free downloadable clothes for the eyepet, such as Christmas outfits, though the items available are quite limited. You can take pictures and video of you and your pet with your controller and share them with the online community if you feel the need - you can also view other people's pics. This gives you an idea of quite how customisable the eyepet is, and much needed reassurance that other people look quite silly playing with their pets too! As with all camera based games it is a little strange seeing yourself on screen, but kids seem to not be bothered by this - at the end of the day this is primarily a kids' game.
It doesn't take too long to play through all the challenges, but the fact that you can go back to them and improve your score, does make the game quite long lived. I probably should point out that you need a bit of space in front of your TV to get the full benefit of playing this - we did have our console in a smaller room upstairs but it's much better to play with now we have moved it to the front room where there is plenty of space.
The original game was quite "buggy" - but any problems that there were seem to have been ironed out, we have played this game very extensively and found that it runs smoothly and the instructions (both on screen and in video form from a mad scientist type) are clear and easy to follow. You do have to configure the controller from time to time but this is a simple process of pointing the controller at the screen and pressing the "play" button, and doesn't interrupt the action too often.
I think that this is one of the most successful move games that I have played (we own a couple of other titles and I've played the demos that are available). It is a gentle, non violent but quite magical game that has been well thought through and is fun for kids to play. The move edition is a big improvement on what was already a very good title - this is definitely one to consider for Christmas if you have, or are thinking of getting a PS3 with move. Highly recommended.