Last year, EyePet was released in Australia and Europe, filling a hole in gamers' hearts with a lovable monkey-like creature that enjoyed being groomed and performing fancy tricks. You interacted with this fictional puff ball via the wonders of the EyeToy combined with a plastic card that created all sorts of magical objects in-game. Jealous American players could do nothing to satiate their own desires for a virtual plaything and were forced to pine away for EyePet's eventual release in their own country. That time will finally come later this year, but the months spent between its original release and its stateside debut will bring with it one major change: PlayStation Move support. You are no longer forced to interact with this mythical creature with a cold, uncaring card. That functionality has been swapped out for Sony's new Move controller, and we got a chance to try it out for ourselves.
Fictional, monkeylike creatures, like every other animal under the yellow sun, get dirty over time. Cruel as it may seem, it's just nature's way. In EyePet, you must groom your foul creature when its fur gets matted and gross, and we got a chance to douse it in life-giving water. By using the augmented reality feature present in many Move-enabled games, the controller we were holding in our hands magically changed to a shower nozzle onscreen when we selected the clean option. Unlike an ordinary housecat, the EyePet creature loves being bathed, closing its eyes as the water cascaded down his furry head. It even opened its mouth to have a drink, which is strange because hot water is anything but refreshing. The nozzle moved and swayed realistically as we twisted and contorted the controller.
Once he was wet, we had to dry our furry pal. We swapped out the water-gushing nozzle for a hair dryer and gave the furball the beauty-salon treatment. Once it was clean and fluffy, we were free to play around with a few non-cleaning instruments. We replaced our hair dryer with a bubble-making machine that forced our little creature through a rigorous muscle-building exercise. Even the best of us are not immune to the charm of bubbles, and the little monkey exhibited its love of floating spheres by leaping around the room, popping them with its razor-sharp nails. If we swung the Move slowly, we could create a huge bubble that could actually trap the little guy inside. Once it was situated in the bubble, we could cause it to rise high in the sky with a flick of our wrist, though it was unperturbed being imprisoned inside a watery shell.
Using the PlayStation Move, we could also write onscreen, and our pet would copy whatever we drew onto his personal pad of paper. There are different modes within this drawing section. You can always draw whatever you want, but your drawing is imbued with different properties depending on what mode you select. Car, plane, boat, balloon, and puppet are all available options, so no matter how lousy your drawing ability is, the game will mash your creation into a working airplane (for instance) that can be ridden by your adventurous pet. Once it's airborne, you can point at the screen to direct its flight, tapping the button to make the propeller spin or stop completely. Controls during this section are still being fine-tuned, but the monkey didn't seem to mind that he was part of a work-in-progress.
The last object we conjured was an X-ray device that let us see the insides of our trusting pet. Here, we could check its stomach to see if it was hungry, check it's brain to see its creativity, and check other organs to make sure it was happy and healthy. There are more surprises in store for EyePet fans later this year, but what we saw so far is every bit as adorable as it was last year, with more-precise controls. EyePet is due out this fall, though specifics have not yet been revealed.