Full Review: The EyeToys have it.
Sony's small EyeToy camera was able to turn heads at E3 2003 and in doing so, turned the bodies of those intrigued individuals into the focus of one of twelve interactive mini-games. This PlayStation 2 add-on ended up being my pick for the most entertaining accessory at the expo as well as being the envy of every other peripheral producing company on the showfloor and for good reason. It went on to sell quite well in the U.K. where it was developed and has finally come stateside along with EyeToy: Play, the included disc of games and other surprises that take advantage of this innovative technology. The entire package of mini-games may seem simplistic to some, but it's also picture perfect for parties or for gamers that don't get enough of themselves in Tony Hawk's Underground.
The EyeToy camera works a lot like the average web cam in that it plugs into the USB port of your PS2 and should be mounted above your television screen with ample lighting. In fact, there's even an option to record video messages onto a memory card in the process. However, unlike my own web cam that has gone used these past eight months, I actually played with every EyeToy: Play mini-game and enjoyed the experience so much that I plan to keep it plugged in for further fun in the days ahead. Here's the rundown of the easy, yet instantly addictive mini-games within the EyeToy: Play lineup:
Kung Foo fought its way to the top to become one of the more recognizable games associated with EyeToy much like a single stands out on a music album. It involves karate chopping tiny ninjas that attack from multiple directions. While that doesn't sound riveting in words, I bet the first wave of these martial arts attackers won't be the last ones you battle. Certainly not complex in any way, Kung Foo is like many of the games within the Play collection in which the action gradually becomes more intense and you immediately become addicted.
Beat Freak borrows from the rhythm revolution of Dance Dance Revolution in combining music and movement, only this game uses your hands instead of feet. As CDs fly from the center of the screen to one of four corner loudspeakers, it's up to you to hit the correct speaker as soon as the CD is in its center. It sounds simple enough, but be prepared for a workout when several CDs start moving in more than one direction. It can be exhausting and therefore funny to everyone around you.
is the most simplistic of the bunch in which players clean (what I believe are) soapsuds off of a series of windows, each taking up the entire television screen. Another excellent two-minute workout, this engrossing game comes with bird poo, water bonuses and a tune from that's appropriate for a window washer. Soccer Craze
is all about headbutting a soccer ball and attempting to hit the evil characters in any of the four windows to the right and left while avoiding the innocent ones. While I didn't find this any more intense than actual soccer, it's definitely worth playing and can be quite challenging as well. Boxing Chump
won't have you in the ring with Rocky, but rather Big Robo Bro. If you've ever wanted to fight your own (virtual) fight, here's your chance to throw a few punches either high or low depending on guard that the machine has got up. UFO Juggler
blasts off as the first of two mini-games with a spin it. Basically, you spin UFOs until they fly off screen or begin to wobble. It's not my favorite right now, but your opinion could be different and mine could change with the added pressure of competing with other players. Slap Stream
serves up another whack-a-mole type game like Kung Foo, only the here characters are stationary and certain ones shouldn't be touched. This makes the entire operation much more difficult since you can make a mistake just three times, so be prepared for some fast and challenging gameplay. Plate Spinner
is the most obvious game according to its name, but it throws in a few surprises like monkeys. For the most part you'll be turning four plates at once, but every so often, monkeys will hop on one in an attempt to knock them off balance. If you fail to keep going, I'm sure the plates won't stop spinning for a long in this highly addictive mini-game. Disco Stars
brings more rhythm to this EyeToy collection as Qt (a character that was needlessly named) triggers a series of five disco lights with her dance moves. Similar to a game of Simon Says, you hit the lights in time with the beat of the music. Being accurate is the key to winning as well as enjoying this one. Ghost Elimination
enters you into the last of the whack-a-mole mini-games where you hunt hard-to-see ghosts and hit bats out of the sky to score points. While not as addicting or intense as the other whacking games, it's interesting enough to warrant a couple rounds. Mirror Time
is one of my favorite as well as one of the most frustrating mini-games to make it into this collection. The idea of bursting the green bubbles and avoiding the red ones doesn't sound too difficult and the fact that there are only four at a time makes it sound even easier. However, when the four sections of the screen rotate and flip in different ways to confuse your mind, it turns into madness. It's definitely one of the most challenging, but can also be just as fun as Wishi Washi. Rocket Rumble
is a blast and a half and the proper way to end this EyeToy: Play collection with a bang. It's not unlike Fantavision in that you select rockets of a certain color and detonate them while they are still in the air for high combo points. Since it's another game that's on a time limit, Rocket Rumble doesn't last as long as I'd like, but it'll surely keep you coming back to claim a higher score and to see the stunning display.
Admittedly, it's easy to cheat in any one of these EyeToy: Play games as the opening tutorial suggests. Of course, just because the camera detects motion and generates collision detection from it, that doesn't mean it is okay to play with a big sweater no further than a foot from the lens. It's not only more or less cheating yourself as well as less fun, but it's less of a workout. Much like Dance Dance Revolution, many of these mini-games will keep your upper body moving, so combine them with one that utilizes a dance pad and you can still receive a full day's exercise even as a gamer. On the converse side of taking advantage of EyeToy, sometimes the camera won't detect a certain soft spot. This is usually due to a lack of lighting on your part and can be easily corrected.
Besides being able to play the twelve mini-games in varying difficulties as a single-player or with up to four people in multiplayer, EyeToy adds in some extras in order to liven up your television screen. This is done in playroom where 13 interactive effects portray your room as an underwater environment full of fish or manipulate the area in hanging a beehive which buzzing with bees whenever you hit the hive. Neat to take a tour of the added effects, but nothing you'll use more than your screensaver.