Is That An EyePet In Your Pocket?

Have you ever wanted to have a furry little friend in your pocket that you could pull out and play with whenever you felt like it? EyePet for the PSP can make that dream come true.

EyePet is an adorable little augmented reality critter you can play with using your EyeToy and PlayStation Move. All you need to do is turn on your television, spin up the game in your PlayStation 3, and you've got a little animated ball of fuzz you can torture for hours on end on your living room carpet.

But what if you don't want virtual pet all over your nice new carpet? What if you want to bring your pet outside? What if your parents want to watch the damn news in peace for just once?

That's where the PSP version of the EyePet comes in. I spent some time with the game hands-on earlier today at GamesCom in Cologne, Germany.

EyePet for the PSP comes bundled with the same PSP camera that folks in Europe have been enjoying for some time now, using it to play games like Invizimals, which sold ridiculously well across the pond. Both Invizimals and EyePet will be bundled with the camera this fall in North America, and there's no reason any PSP owner should miss picking one up.

Well, unless they have a PSP Go of course. The camera and the Go don't play well together. Go figure.

The EyePet can be played with within the confines of the game, without ever using the camera at all. You can dress the little guy up, keep him fed, and engage in various non camera-related activities.

You can use the camera to participate in fun little activities with the EyePet. Draw a picture of a car, a sailboat, or other objects, and your fluffy friend will grab a crayon in its mouth and mimic your drawing, which you can then have rendered into a three dimensional object. There's even a scavenger hunt in the game, where finding specific colors with the camera will unlock the 10 additional costumes the PSP version boasts over the original.

But the most fun comes when you take EyePet out of his confines and project him into the real world. Using a card, much like the one packaged in the original release of EyePet on the PSP, your EyePet can manifest itself anywhere the card resides. Simple aim the camera at the card, and your pet appears, as if by magic.

Note that if you do not understand this technology, it is magic, caveman.

Once you've got your pet in the real world, you can interact with it in various ways. Wiggle your fingers or objects around and he'll pounce them. You can manifest your drawings of cars or boats on the real-life playing field, playing mini-games as the little guy hops in for a ride.

Obscure the card and the EyePet is enveloped in a bubble, floating safe from harm above his surroundings. You cannot poke this bubble, or pop it. You cannot harm the EyePet in any way.

It's probably the only down side to the EyePet.

But you can play games like bowling, blowing into the PSP camera's microphone to make your balled-up pet knock down pins. "Now blow the EyePet," the man demonstrating the game to me said. You can take pictures of your pet in the strangest of places, like your friends' heads or the bathroom.

I asked if I could tattoo the card on my body and have the EyePet appear on my skin. My handler was pretty sure it would work, but suggested I shave my arms.

I'm still debating it.

Perhaps if innovative games like EyePet had been around when the PSP launched, instead of a slew of inferior versions of normal console games, Sony's handheld would be in a much better position right now.

We'll find out later this year if it's too late for that.

And yes, I am happy to see you.