EyeToy Play 2 was a long time coming. The first EyeToy title came out in November of 2003 and Sony Europe has spent a great deal of time working on their minigames, the hardware, and further refining the overall mechanics of the game itself. The simplicity of the original game was deceptively innovative. It isn’t that the game was doing something that had never been done before, but more that it hadn’t been done so well.
Lightning doesn’t often strike twice, so EyeToy would have to do more than just improve on the original game but re-invent. Lets look at the results of their hard work.
EyeToy 2 is bright game. The colors are practically psychedelic with bright green grass, flame orange backgrounds, and an almost cel-shaded look. Honestly, you won’t spend a whole lot of time looking at the graphics as you are the primary animation in the game.
In some games you’ll face off against another player on the screen. The table tennis game has you looking at the back of your opponent’s head while you use your hand to knock the ball back across the table. Boxing is set up in a similar fashion with you squaring off on the right with the opponent on the left. The Baseball title has you placed in a box facing the pitcher. Ultimately, the graphics really haven’t changed much since the original game, but there isn’t a whole lot of improvement to be made.The sound in EyeToy 2 was obviously not the focus of the game. The music blends into the background and really doesn’t add or subtract from the overall package. During review we ran into a few issues with the sound repeating or restarting continuously. We restarted the game and ran into this sound glitch again after about a half hour of play. We cleaned the disc and tried a second PS2 and found this issue reoccurred again after roughly 30 minutes of play. Perhaps this is an issue with earlier model Playstation units, but it was certainly irritating enough to notice.
Primarily, this is a game about waving your arms around in the air. Sincerely, the whole game is about smacking things on the screen by waving in their direction on the screen. To select the different games you wave your hands at the left or right arrows. To move through your menus you wave at select, menu, or exit respectively. You can even smack your little game helper to shut him up. This is the innovative genius of the game as well as its primary problem.
EyeToy 2, just like EyeToy 1 is extremely dependent on the conditions in which you play. A white wall with overhead lighting is absolutely perfect for playing the game. My lighting is provided by upright lamps that point their light towards the ceiling instead of the other way around. This made the top of my screen very well lit and I could select anything at that area of the screen. Unfortunately it shadowed the bottom 2/3 of the screen to the point where you could not accurately control the game. Additionally, I was wearing darker clothing which wasn’t helping. I lugged my Playstation 2 into my office where I had overhead lighting and the game performed beautifully. Unfortunately, the whole purpose of this game is to play it with your friends, and that means playing it in the front room. I had to put on light clothes, reconfigure the lighting by stealing lamps from our living room, and adjust the camera to a position that had no shadows between the unit and where I was standing. When it works, it works very well. When it doesn’t work, it requires a bit of rearranging to get the game to play. If you are having friends over, make sure you get everything tuned prior.
The first EyeToy Play title was fairly unique. Whether it was fighting ninjas flying from rooftops or scrubbing bubbles off the screen the gameplay was new and fun. Unfortunately the game suffered from a lack of variety as several of the games felt the same. Ok, I’m swatting Ninjas…how is this different from swatting ghosts? In the end it really wasn’t.
EyeToy Play 2 features 12 new games and a collection of 75 bonus games to shake things up over the original title. Lets take a look at a few of those titles. The first title was EyeToy AntiGrav, a title slated for the holiday of this year. You can also color the screen in the Coloring game, play a pool on a pentagon-shaped pool table, smacking fruit away from you in Citrus Fighter, cast spells in Wizard, try to blend into the background with Chameleon, or watch the planet’s gravity modify your image in Solar System. Sony has brought their A game this time around as every one of these games is different. Sony has also added your voice to the game, because flailing your arms like a maniac simply isn’t enough. You can play Sonic Sub where you control a submarine with the pitch of your voice, or you can play Sonic Goo where you manipulate the sound bars on screen by making various noises and watching how they distort the overall soundscape. These are just a slice of the main game, it doesn’t even begin to scrach the bonus games on the disc.
The real hit at E3 was the Air Guitar. In Air Guitar you can play the guitar on the screen in a minigame similar to a Dance Dance Revolution title. There are symbols for a single hit, strum, fret slide, or a classic rock windmill. It is a blast to play and it beats the ‘standard’ air guitar as you get music out of the deal!
It only makes sense that Sony would add Boxing to the mix. In Knockout you get to square off against four AI controlled boxers or against some boxing mitts, speed bag, or go hard on the heavy bag. You can’t just swing wild at the screen, there is a little bit of strategy at the title. You have to listen for a tune which allows you to blast your target with a flurry of combination moves. Each boxer has a weakness which you’ll have to exploit to beat them. If you get smacked around enough you’ll start to see stars and that means its time to swing your arms around like a wild monkey to get rid of the stars.
I played percussion for several years so I was all over the Drummin’ game. This game was less about being quick or technically accurate like Taiko Drum Master from Namco, but more focused on landing your drum beats at the same time as a little ball falls on the drum. Timing was everything and once I got the hang of it the game got fun in a hurry. If you do well enough you get to face off against the King of Drumming. He didn’t stand a chance.
Wanna be a fry cook? How bout a burger tosser? Well, now is your chance to don the paper hat and get your hands dirty. In Mr. Chef you get to work in a fast food diner and make your own burgers from scratch. You get to chop the pickles, mash the potatoes, grate the cheese, and scoop the desert. You even get to salt up the fries to drop on the side.
I could go on and on forever about the new variety of games in EyeToy Play 2. Sony spent a great deal of time working on making sure there was no shortage of variety in this game. Just scrolling through the wealth of minigames takes a while, so playing and mastering them will take quite a bit longer. Making those minigames work means freeing the player from the center of the screen. The boxing game has you on one side of the screen with your opponent on the other. During Homerun you are in front of the baseball diamond off to the left hand side waiting for the ball to swing at. Its funny how simply letting the player move around the screen can change the whole dynamic of the game.
The game feels a whole lot like the frantic action of some particular handheld titles. The game puts you on your feet and will run you ragged. It’s a blast!Simply put, this game is meant for groups of people. Playing this game without friends just isn’t anywhere as much fun. There are a ton of new games to play and each one is unique. If you can gather up a group of friends to play the new games you can have get a great deal of enjoyment watching them make fools of themselves. If you are on your own, you’ll probably play through each game but once and then shelf the game until you have company.