If only cute could be made to kill

Over the years, the handy virtual pet has offered many children the chance of owning a fantastic creature without having to clean up the mess. I remember when I was younger and I was suckered into the Tamagotchi craze. After a thrilling two hours, I was bored and gave it to my sister. A few hours more, she was bored and gave it to her best friend. And thus it continued, until half the neighborhood had a hand at raising this virtual creature that, because it wasn’t real, no one felt the need to be responsible for. And so now, many years later, we’ve seen this virtual-pet genre evolve to the point that we’ve got motion-control gimmick games that basically serve the same purpose. And so, with that, we’re looking at the second iteration of Sony’s virtual-pet time- and money-waster in EyePet & Friends.

The entire premise is that the player receives a creature that looks more like a Mogwai from Gremlins more than any real creature, and you earn points by playing with it or by playing against a friend and their Gizmo lookalike in various games. Honestly, the creatures are cute, but this game has as much appeal as a root canal. The only real positive is that at least if these critters get wet or eat after midnight, they don’t turn into horrific little monsters. If you’re planning on getting this for your children, don’t. Get a real pet, like a dog or a cat. It might make more of a mess, but your kids will thank you years down the road and might actually learn some responsibility from having to take care of the animal. All EyePet & Friends does is waste their time and offer the tiniest amount of entertainment value I think I’ve ever seen in a game.

On top of being absolutely pointless, the game actually also has a lot of technical flaws that make it even more of a gaming abomination. The responsiveness with the PS Move, which is required to play the game, is hit or miss, and you’ll often find yourself having to repeat the same simple motions over and over again just to get the creature to do a trick. Again, if I’m going to put this much time and effort into teaching something, I’d rather it be a real animal that’ll probably learn faster and respond better than these balls of fluff do on my TV.

And speaking of your TV, the entire “game world” is really just a reproduction of what the PS Eye sees with the critters superimposed over the image—but with what looks like a blue static filter over the screen the entire time. This filter ended up giving me a headache after a half hour, because even if you find a way to focus on your EyePet, they take up 10 percent of the screen at best. Sony was trying to bridge a gap between the real world and the fantasy world, but instead they should have just kept it in the fantasy world and actually provided some backgrounds to play with the creature in. Again, this is just another reason you should “keep it real.”

The worst part of the entire game, though, may come from the announcer who explains everything you can do with the EyePet. The man’s disturbingly unbridled enthusiasm for this virtual mongrel would put most game-show announcers to shame. Being forced to hear him explain every toy, activity, and feature of the EyePet made me want to jam pencils in my ears.

It has been a long time since I had such an abysmal gaming experience, and I cannot, in good faith, recommend this to anyone. Again, get your kid a real pet or watch as the money you spent on EyePet & Friends gets turned around by your kid as a traded-in game at a GameStop or Best Buy for something that might actually hold their interest for more than 15 minutes. This game doesn’t even deserve to be on the shelf and should start in the bargain bin—and that’s going easy on it. Bottom line: It doesn’t get worse than this, folks—at least I hope not.

SUMMARY: Like any other virtual pet: You’ll question why you even bothered in the first place.

  • THE GOOD: Creatures are cute as can be
  • THE BAD: Long load times and an announcer who makes you want to stab things in your ear
  • THE UGLY: Reminiscent of the Tamagotchi craze—and that’s not a good thing

SCORE: 1.0