Monday, December 13, 2021

EyeToy: Play 2

Months after the US release of EyeToy: AntiGrav came EyeToy: Play 2, the sixth of eight EyeToy games to be released in the US and a sequel to the original EyeToy: Play. Much like the original EyeToy: Play, this was one game that could be found bundled with the camera itself, however, like with some games in my EyeToy collection, I found it cheap at Amoeba without the camera, which I fortunately still had from the first game. Since I still enjoyed the original game, I expected the similar experience out of the sequel, however I strangely found myself getting bored more than I did excited.

Like its predecessor, the core gameplay of EyeToy: Play 2 consists of a series of 12 minigames, two of which (Knock Out, Kung 2) are even based on minigames form EyeToy: Play (Boxing Chump and Kung Fu respectively) and couple of them (Air Guitar, Home Run) also feature a left-handed option to account for the handedness of the player. The Video Messaging option makes a return here, as well as the introduction of SpyToy, which enables you to turn your EyeToy camera into a sort of security camera that can record whoever walks past it and even play a video message you recorded for intruders. SpyToy (incidentally the European name for EyeToy: Operation Spy) also features a stealth option for if you plan to turn the TV off for more covert security footage, allowing it to function somewhat as a low-end security camera. I will also mention that the game features controller support to a similar extent as EyeToy: Groove, making menu navigation a whole lot easier in the long run.

The “boring” part comes from the fact that, while some of the minigames have some neat ideas, they are stretched out far longer than those in the original EyeToy: Play, up to and including a lives system, bonus missions and even boss fights. This, combined with some spotty hit detection depending on your relative position to the camera, also leads some potentially fun minigames such as Mr. Chef (a burger building game reminiscent of Papa’s Burgeria minus the actual cooking) to be bogged down by this system. On top of that, this led the Knock Out minigame to go on for so long that my arm hurt badly enough for me to require some outside assistance to explore the rest of the game for this review. I imagine this was an attempt to make the player feel like they got more bang for their buck when playing the single player, however this sort of diminishes its potential as a good party game when compared to the first installment. Compounding this further is some minigames like DIY and Drummin’ feeling more mundane compared to others, as well as an impatient robotic host who never shuts up and, unlike SpongeBob and Patrick in Nicktoons Movin’, cannot be turned off.

As with previous EyeToy party games, there is a multiplayer mode in which two to four players compete for points, though this time ties are broken by a minigame in which both players compete simultaneously at opposite ends of the screen. For this mode, each individual segment of the 12 minigames, including some boss fights, is broken up as its own minigame here, bringing the total number of options to a somewhat daunting 77. For reference, the breakdown if these is as follows: Air Guitar – 6; Bubble Pop – 6; DIY – 10; Drummin' – 3; Goal Attack – 5; Home Run – 6; Knock Out – 7; Kung 2 – 6; Monkey Bars – 6; Mr. Chef – 9; Secret Agent – 6; Table Tennis – 7.

A sampling of what the game has to offer.

The Playroom mode also makes a return here, presented as a series of minigames with more experimental playstyles, grouped into twos. Color-Cam (Citrus Fighter and Wizard) involves using brightly-colored fruit in a similar fashion to a PlayStation Move controller, Cutout-Cam (Chameleon and Solar System) separates you from the background for a variety of visual effects, Sonic-Cam (Sonic Sub and Sonic Goo) features sound-based gameplay, Motion-Cam (Pool, Coloring) is more or less normal EyeToy gameplay and EyeToy: Cameo (Head Spring and Head Together) is based around creating a custom Cameo. There is also a short, playable demo for EyeToy: AntiGrav.

As said in the previous paragraph, EyeToy: Cameo is a new feature for EyeToy: Play 2 in which you create a custom Cameo based on your face. This requires some setup, including capturing the front and side views of your head under specific conditions and setting up markers on said captures, as well as a handful of other customization options. After waiting about a minute or so for the Cameo to fully render, the result is admittedly a little uncanny, leading me to not actually use one for the two minigames that require them. Because of this, I was able to see that playing the two minigames without a Cameo to load simply replaces it with what resembles a disembodied crash test dummy head, which left me with just thinking about how even more uncanny the Cameo might have actually looked if I committed.

Normally I would not go into this much depth over how many games there are, however the back of the box boasts “75 bonus games” and I think I figured out how the math works out to get it there. For starters, the number is inflated by turning the 12 minigames into 77 for the multiplayer mode, so I initially thought it was just this and there was a miscount. However, if you subtract 12 from this total and add in the 10 minigames from the Playroom mode (disregarding the EyeToy: AntiGrav demo and the EyeToy: Cameo creator), this number does, indeed, become 75. Either way, there was clearly some fudging of numbers in order to get an impressing-sounding number on the box, even if it’s technically accurate.

Within a year of EyeToy: Play 2’s release, a direct sequel known as EyeToy: Play 3 was developed, however it never saw a US release, rather being exclusive to Europe and Australia. All other games in the EyeToy: Play series faced a similar fate, including EyeToy Play: Sports, EyeToy Play: Astro Zoo, EyeToy Play: Hero and EyeToy Play: PomPom Party.

EyeToy: Play 2 has some interesting ideas and expands greatly on the original EyeToy: Play, however some of the fun factor of the first game seems to have gotten lost in the process. That said, it is worth exploring for those seeking a new addition to their EyeToy library, as your mileage varies greatly more here than it did the first time.

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