Published by Sony Computer
Developed by SCEE London Studio
The EyePet games combine a virtual pet with some augmented reality gaming (where some of the in-game graphics appear to be interacting with real-world objects and surfaces). It's a series that's always promised a lot but as yet has delivered little. Like the EyePet game that appeared on the PlayStation 3, EyePet for the PSP felt like a game that didn't fully realise its potential. One advantage it did have over the PlayStation 3 version however, it was a much better experience for deaf gamers with the bulk of the speech in the game being subtitled. The game did have other problems however; longevity being a particular problem and that is also the case with EyePet Adventures.
In EyePet Adventures you're enlisted into the EyePet Explorer's Club which means you'll get your very own Explorer vehicle to go underground to explore and look for Pet Tokens and other treasures such as toys and items that your EyePet can use. The game is essentially a mix of using the submarine-like Explorer to search for Pet Tokens and treasures and traditional EyePet gameplay meaning you can feed and wash your little critter, take pictures of your EyePet in action and even have it play with various toys in what are effectively mini-games where you can also earn Pet Tokens. The game also includes some activities for you to try outside of the game which are of some educational value.
The novelty value of EyePet Adventures however wears thin pretty quickly when you realise that there is not a lot to either the mini-games or exploring. You'll place the included Magic Card on a surface such as the floor or a table and point the PSP camera lense at it (the camera isn't included and you'll need one to play the game). When it's time to enter the Explorer it will emerge through the surface of your table or floor and your EyePet will get in and you'll be taken into the game world. It's a neat way of doing things and I daresay it might have a few of the younger children wondering just where the EyePet has gone to. Once you're inside the Explorer you'll simply see a silhouette of the EyePet as you steer it through the underground. Taking your EyePet underground should have lots of potential for plenty of enjoyable things to take place but sadly this is no Jules Verne style fantastic voyage. In fact all there is to do is collect Pet Tokens and an assortment of items and you'll see the occasional creature too. Some upgrades are needed for your Explorer vehicle so that you can access initially blocked off areas. The mini-games are a shade more interesting. All of the mini-games have several difficulty levels, although to be fair they never become too challenging. The PSP camera needs to be focused on the Magic Card at all times, which could prove a little bothersome for younger children. The main problem however is that you'll see all what the game has to offer within a few hours and after that there's little reason to continue playing.
It's a little disappointing that you're still stuck with the basic creature (a kind of a cross between a monkey and a dog) in EyePet Adventures. You can still change the colour and length of its fur or choose from a range of styles for it to adopt such as lion, pony or punk. You can even give it clothes to wear if you really want to and there are a range of suits, hats and tops to choose from and purchase when you have the necessary Pet Tokens. None of this hides the fact that you're still dealing with a single character model and I think future EyePet titles should at least make an effort to include a selection.
The game's presentation is absolutely fine. The quality of the graphics can best be described as colourful and functional rather than being technologically impressive for the PSP. The game installs a chunk of data to your memory stick and as a result the load times in the game are decent throughout. As with the first EyePet game on the PSP, EyePet Adventures is subtitled and you'll be aware of all of the important dialogue in the game including all of the tutorial information. You'll even see a portrait of the speaker placed alongside the dialogue. In short it's a much better experience for deaf gamers than any of the EyePet games on the PlayStation 3.
For accessibility reasons alone the PSP EyePet games are definitely worth choosing over the PlayStation 3 titles in the series. However both the PSP and PlayStation 3 versions both lack longevity. Once you've seen all EyePet Adventures has to offer, which certainly won't take long, there's little reason to go back to the game and that's a real shame. There needed to be more to the exploring elements in the game and long-term goals that could have encouraged you to come back to the game time and time again. In truth the EyePet series has always suffered from having a lack of substance and EyePet Adventures is sadly, no exception.