While it's usually pretty easy to pigeonhole video games into neat little categories, Sony's EyeToy: Play is completely different from anything else out on the market. On one side of the coin, this collection of party-oriented minigames finds a home near games like the Mario Party series, partly because you can pick it right up and play with any number of friends. But it can also be said that it falls squarely in between games like Samba De Amigo or Dance Dance Revolution, because of its reliance on a peripheral--though the huge difference with EyeToy is that you interact with the game by way of a small video camera. As is the case with most party games, EyeToy is simplistic at best, but the way you play the game truly makes it a one-of-a-kind experience that just about anyone, regardless of skill, can enjoy.
You can now break up with your girlfriend, 21st-century style, with EyeToy's video messaging feature.
Developed by Sony's London Studio, EyeToy: Play is, at its core, a collection of various minigames that have you standing in front of the camera and your television, waving your arms or moving your entire body to play. These games include basic challenges of rhythm, sports-oriented challenges, and games that require you to hit moving targets that fly onscreen. For example, in the Kung Foo game, you are positioned squarely in the middle of the screen and are tasked with swatting away ninjas that fly at you from all directions. Soccer Craze tasks you with keeping a soccer ball from hitting the ground by hitting it from below with your head. Disco Stars finds you copying the motions of an onscreen character. There are 12 games in all to test your agility and hand-eye coordination, and the variations between them are slight. While it might seem as if there's not much variety to keep your interest for long, the main draw for the game is simply how you play it, since this type of interaction has never been seen before. Given that EyeToy: Play is meant to appeal to people of all ages, and to those with little or no gaming skill, you should not expect these games to require much thinking to play them. In this respect, EyeToy: Play excels in its simplicity.
In addition to the main portion of the game, there are two other fairly interesting modes: playroom and video messaging. The first of these, playroom, is perfect for a party atmosphere. It simply places the video being recorded by the camera on the television with a variety of different video effects like motion blur and delay, and it also creates sound according to movement. There are also settings that place superimposed graphics, such as snow or a lively fish tank, over the video, so you can turn it on for atmosphere when you have guests over. The second additional feature is video messaging, which allows you to record short video clips with sound and store them on your memory card for later viewing. An empty memory card can store up to sixty seconds of video. In all, these additional features add a great extra touch to EyeToy: Play, making an already interesting and innovative product all the more attractive.