EyePet • Page 2

Not just for Christmas or just plain not for Christmas?

The illusion is, unfortunately, slightly spoiled once you realise you don't actually have to draw what the scientist tells you. I received effusive praise from the daft old sod despite (somewhat predictably) drawing a cartoon nob instead of a fish, and the on-screen results vary depending on the lighting. Sketches copied in daylight are crisp and near-perfect, while those done under electric light in the evening are often patchy and broken.

As fun as the sketching trick is, the game ups the ante by later giving you the ability to draw cars, planes and even robots that will then be turned into 3D objects for your EyePet to play with. Taking your furry pal flying on a plane you just scribbled, soaring from the lounge carpet, through the clouds and up to the moon, is a joyous moment. It's also hard not to be won over by the musical features, which allow you to sing to your EyePet and hear them sing the tune back to you in a high-pitched Mogwai trill. They can learn dozens of songs, and while complex arrangements are lost in translation it's still a lovely use of the PlayStation Eye's microphone.

For all these moments of easy charm, however, there are clumsier elements that recall the lumpy opening and tug away at the goodwill being generated by the lovely visuals. Loading times tend to the sluggish, while directions for some of the challenges are irritatingly vague, a problem which is compounded by the intangible nature of the experience.

3

Experiment 1: EyePets prove disappointingly resistant to crushing.

Unlocking the gardening set, for example, lets you grow flowers from your living room carpet - the EyePet digs the holes, you plant the seeds and your pet frolics in the spray when you water them. But then the instruction comes to "tap the base of the flower to pick it". I tried for five minutes to no avail, flicking hopelessly at the flower, and then somehow it just worked and the flower vanished.

The lack of feedback or explanation blights a few too many of the game's many challenges. There's one where you have to get your face down on the floor and take a photo of you with your EyePet - but I've yet to get a snap that fits the criteria. After multiple failed attempts, I still don't know what I'm getting wrong.

Ditto for a challenge where you need to get a photo of a butterfly landing on your EyePet's face. I grew the required flower, and dressed my pet accordingly, but the butterfly refused to play along. Then there's the first robot challenge, where you must steer your hand-drawn android around and smash watermelons. I picked up the baseball bat, I worked out that you have to hold down the button to charge your attack (since that's not explained), but I couldn't break the bloody watermelons and thus the robot toy remained off-limits. The game's minimal approach only makes sense when goals are clear and easily achieved through casual experimentation.

There's also the small matter that most of the gadgets require you to hold the card face on to the camera at all times. Tilt it away and the gadget blinks out of existence. Add in the slightly disorientating effect of the camera's reversed-then-flipped mirror image of your room, and a lot of simple functions prove to be a confusing chore for the kids.

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