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March 16, 2006

REVIEW: EyeToy: Play 2

Here's my latest "A Dad's Take" column for the GameDAILY Family Guide. I'll post a direct link when it posts on GameDAILY. Here you go.

Recently, more and more video games are taking advantage of new technologies that bring players into the game and turn their bodies into game controllers. Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution series is probably the best-known member of this intrepid group, but with Sony’s development of the EyeToy camera peripheral for their PlayStation 2 console, they’ve become a big player in the experiential game area (Sony, a big player? What’re the odds?).

2005’s EyeToy: Play 2 is the sequel to the 2003’s EyeToy: Play, the first in Sony’s ground-breaking EyeToy series. Like the original, Play 2 has 12 games, which are each divided up into several sub-games. And in addition to that, there are many more mini-games included as well.

Not every game is stellar, but several of them are very good, and with so many options, your kids should be able to find at least a few games they like. And with single player and multiplayer, the games can be enjoyed alone or with friends.

Here are the Big 12:

Mr. Chef: You’re a short-order hash-slinger with orders coming in at a frantic pace. It’s a burger-stacking, French fry-salting, pickle-chopping, cheese-grating, tomato-mashing, ice juggling, pancake-flipping, milkshake-shaking, fly-swatting good time. Order up!

Note: At a certain point, your kids will discover that the EyeToy camera recognizes any movement, intentional or not. So when they accidentally hit an on-screen target with a random body part, they’ll either become frustrated... or inspired, as my kids seemed to have been. As I write this, my kids are in hysterics, because they’re stacking, salting, chopping, grating & mashing with their heads.

Secret Agent: If my kids plan to follow in the stealthy footsteps of Sam Fisher, Solid Snake, or, say, Secret Squirrel, then this game is right at the top of their super secret spy training agenda. It’s a trip to the heart-pounding world of stealth. Here’s a handy-dandy tip, free of charge...you ready? Avoid the searchlights. These are gold nuggets I’m giving you here.

Table Tennis: For my kids, the toughest thing in this game was figuring out how to move the paddle (i.e. open palm) straight ahead toward the TV, instead of across their body, which seems to be a more natural motion. After a while, they got the hang of it, but even when my son was whacking the ball off the side of the table, he enjoyed the simple fact that he affected the flight of the ball.

Kung 2: This is EyeToy Play 2’s action game. Fend off the attacking hordes, using only your own bare hands to protect you. My son loved it (big surprise). It’s perfect for when he’s feeling “karate-ish,” a term he coined a few months ago.

Bubble Pop: Kids and bubbles are almost always a surefire combination, and this one is no exception, though your kids will need to exercise enough control to pop certain bubbles and avoid others (like the evil red ones – grrr!). My son isn’t too big on the self-control, so he doesn’t do very well at this one, but he enjoys it anyway.

Drummin’: This one is probably better suited to older kids, as it requires simultaneous, multi-limb coordination. I enjoyed it, though.

Now would be a good time for me to insert my standard “I’m a drummer” reference, but I’ll spare you this time............................D’OH!

Air Guitar: Guitar Hero it ain’t, but it’s a lot of fun and pretty easy. Rawk on!

DIY: Described as “power tool paradise”, this game lets you fix plumbing leaks, demolish brick walls, chop wood, etc. This game captures all the glamour and fun of home improvement. Pay no attention to my witty sarcasm just then, it really is fun, and kinda therapeutic.

Goal Attack: My kids and I found this one to be pretty frustrating. You’re a goalie trying to stop the shot, but the camera is sluggish and inaccurate in responding to your movements. We moved on from this one pretty quickly.

Homerun: In this baseball-themed game, hitting can be a lot of fun, but although running is simple in theory – you pump your arms up and down very quickly – it can be frustrating.

Knockout: Like it sounds, this is a boxing game, so make sure that the area is clear of anything and anyone you hold dear.

Monkey Bars: The concept is cool (you navigate your way up, down, and around the outside of a building), but it was too difficult and frustrating for my kids.

In addition to the 12 main games, EyeToy: Play 2 also has a bunch of experimental games in there, too, in a magical, mystical place they call The Playroom.

Here are some of the games we’ve played so far:

Motion Cam: Head down to the rec room for a nice game of Pool on a hexagonal table. Of course, as mentioned above, the camera detects any movement, so you’re just as likely to hit the cue ball with your head or tummy as with your hands. And as in the other games, depending on the kid, that can either be fun (my son) or frustrating...or perhaps fun for a few minutes, then frustrating after that (my daughter). The other Motion Cam game was Coloring, where you basically fill the screen up with graffiti. Not the most creative game in the collection.

Sonic Cam: Use your voice to control either a submarine navigating treacherous waters, or to make funky, psychedelic patterns on the screen. The games were interesting as a curiosity, but neither has the staying power to hold the attention of most children. The submarine one was not very easy, and given the relatively meager payoff, is probably not worth the effort.

Cameo: You create a 3D model of your head, and then you get to play around with it for a while. Pretty cool, in a weird, Robocop-esque, face-grafted-onto-machine kind of way.

You also get to play a demo of EyeToy AntiGrav, a non-musical detour taken by Guitar Hero developer Harmonix. AntiGrav is more of an actual game than a collection of mini-games. You use your body to ride on rails and jump over and duck under obstacles. It’s pretty basic (the demo, that is) and a lot of fun, and school-age kids should have no problem with it. Both of my kids loved it.

To be sure, some games are better than others when the goal is to win, but when your kids just want to fool around with a little cause-and-effect fun, with them up on the TV screen, inside the very game that they are playing, it doesn’t get much better than EyeToy: Play 2.


  • Dan, do you have to buy the eyetoy separately, or does it come with one of the games? This sounds like something that I might want to pick up for the kids. A major thing keeping my son from playing most games is the complexity of the controls. This sounds like something my kids would love. Have you played both, and if so, would you rate one higher than the other?

    By Blogger WizarDru, at 5:54 AM  

  • I've only played this one EyeToy game, so I can't really compare it to any others. :(

    EyeToy: Play 2 comes in both "camera included" and "camera required" varieties, obviously at different price points, though the EyeToy can be had pretty cheaply these days. FYI.

    By Blogger Dan, at 5:59 AM  

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