I have made it plain in the past: I am not the biggest fan of this motion sensing revolution that has really taken off in this new generation. I never quite understood the fascination and I still consider it a valiant yet still futile attempt at true virtual reality, although the advent of 3D gaming may cause me to alter my stance. Furthermore, by all rights, I shouldn’t care about something like EyePet; I would applaud the innovation behind it and perhaps deem it a good holiday gift for kids, but I would have zero interest in testing it out myself. …so why am I continually checking the latest media and looking forward to mid-November when I can guiltily reach out and pet a virtual, apparently unclassifiable creature on my TV screen? It’s a bizarre impulse, but it’s worth looking into, and perhaps the readers will be intrigued as well. Really, this is a big step forward; EyePet leaves previously similar software like Nintendogs far, far behind.
The first point I should make is that EyePet isn’t just about toying around with the cuddly monkey-thing and doing whatever you please; the game – if we can indeed call it that – will provide you with a series of “missions,” just so you can faithfully care for your pet…that doesn’t need caring. Well, whatever; you know what I mean. The player will perform a variety of tutorial and/or warm-up machinations that’ll let you examine just how alert and versatile your new friend really is, so don’t skip this introduction. You might be asked to make EyePet move in a certain direction, make a particular facial expression, or react in some other way. Completing these initial maneuvers will grant you fresh items and customizations so you can outfit your buddy in the appropriate style. But perhaps the most amazing part of this entire experience is that you’ll have to cultivate and maintain a relationship with your pet. Doing so will make him happy and responsive…
For example, you’ve probably heard about the Create mode that will let you draw toys and objects for EyePet to play with. Basically, you actually draw something on a sheet of paper and hold it up to the camera; EyePet will then attempt to duplicate your sketch. The better the rapport between you two, the more accurate that sketch will be and if it’s successful, the sketch will come to life on the screen in front of you. They go 3D and even adopt colors and textures, and hopefully, your virtual friend will be satisfied with the result and play for a good long time. Heck, if the object you draw is interactive, that only adds to the fun: you will find screenshots of EyePet in an airplane. Well, that comes about due to a plane a real person drew on a real sheet of paper, and then the capable animal copied it in the virtual world, watched the plane come to life, and jumped in for a ride around the room. How nuts is that? Just make sure your sketch isn’t entirely unrecognizable; the camera has to have an idea of your intention.
The possibilities are almost endless. Tickle him. Pet him. Swipe at him and watch him jump and twist in reaction to your playful assault. Draw whatever you damn well please and see what happens. Equip him with any number of pieces of clothing and items and in general, just watch him put a smile on the faces of your family. This is the perfect piece of new technology for parents and younger children although I have to admit, it’s strangely appealing to me – and potentially to other hardcore gamers – too. It comes out during a loaded November but I can pretty much guarantee you that EyePet is a one-of-a-kind “game,” and no matter how amazing Uncharted 2: Among Thieves and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 will be, Sony’s virtual creation is in a class all its own. And if you can’t admit you’re even the least bit curious about playing with that little thing, you aren’t secure enough in your own masculinity. Seriously. ;)
9/14/2009 Ben Dutka