A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that EyePet and Friends is a virtual pet simulation game for PlayStation 3 that requires the PlayStation Move motion controller. Basic care for the EyePets will appeal to younger kids, while the mini-games are fun for the family. There are also creative components, such as the ability to design your own vehicles, which are then used in mini-games. If the vehicles aren't designed properly (i.e. square wheels), they will not work in the games. There is an option to use pre-designed shapes in them, which may work best for younger players. Also, the mini-games don't really make full use of PlayStation Move's abilities. They frequently involve moving around the screen by pointing your controller where you want your vehicle to go. If there is a PlayStation Network account attached to the user on the PlayStation, the game will connect to EyePet World where you can share pictures, videos, and custom content. You can disable viewing content within the game, but there are no true parental controls. Kids can easily change the options on their own. By default, the game allows you to see all custom content from all players on the network, whether you're friends with them or not.
What's it about?
EYEPET AND FRIENDS invites players to adopt a furry virtual pet, up to two at a time. The pets need to be slowly hatched from eggs (this phase can take 10 minutes or more) at which point you'll be able to care for and play with them. You'll feed pets, wash them, teach them tricks, and dress them up. You can build them play spaces with soft blocks, tunnels, and ramps, or design vehicles for them to play with. The EyePets use the vehicles to play a variety of mini-games. You can also create your own cards and stickers to send to friends via the new EyePet World online space. Many activities award players with virtual coins that can be used to purchase new stickers, stencils for the creative areas, games, and clothes. The game can be enjoyed by two players at a time.
Is it any good?
EYEPETS AND FRIENDS is cute and has a lot of activities to enjoy. Kids should take to it easily. Unfortunately, it suffers from frequent and slow loading times and some occasional challenges with the PlayStation Eye Camera. Switching activities involves loading screens that can take 20 seconds or more. When you've spent less than a minute to feed or wash your pet before moving on, it can be frustrating. Starting the game is also quite a process. Plan on at least 10 minutes -- and possibly more like 20 or 30 -- until you're allowed to play freely with your pet. Once in the game you'll suffer through endless instructions from an overly cheery narrator, including the exact same prompt each time you attempt to save custom content in every area of the game. You can skip through (or repeat) the instructions by pressing the triangle button, but the game never really tells you this. This is enough to try the patience of even the most mellow child.
Once you're beyond all of the hatching and instruction, the mini-games can be fun, but aren't particularly challenging. You also start with only one vehicle, one mini-game, one set of stickers, and one set of blocks unlocked. You'll need to earn enough coins to move on and that can take some time. It would have been nice to start with a couple of games, since that's where the coins really build up. One of the places the game shines is in its creative tools, which allow you to really create your own environments, clothes, and toys for your EyePet. With plenty of patterns, stickers, and stencils, you can make a wide variety of designs and use them in your play space and place them on vehicles. You can also create your own vehicle, but it's important to make sure the parts work -- the game will not compensate for a lack of wheels in a bulldozer. That said, it's much more rewarding to use a vehicle you designed yourself. Kids will also enjoy seeing themselves on-screen with their pets, but the multi-player mode can be muddied by two excited kids on-screen at the same time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the responsibilities of caring for a pet. Did this game make you want a real pet? Do you think it would be more difficult to care for a live animal?
Families can also discuss being creative and turning your ideas into reality. What sort of crafts do you enjoy? Did this game provide you with new ideas for things to make or do away from the screen?
Families can also discuss being a good sport whether you win or lose. How do you feel when you lose and your opponent celebrates winning?
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