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Interactive games best for patient youngsters



Published: Sat, August 27, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The camera's accuracy is not always reliable.

By MICHAEL FELBERBAUM

ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER

When Sony Computer Entertainment decided to create games that let users interact with the console and see themselves on-screen, it seemed like a good idea.

The newest game, "EyeToy: Play 2," is fun if you have the patience to work through the not-always-accurate camera.

Bundled with a plug-in USB camera for $50, "Play 2" features scores of games that vary from an old-fashioned game of table tennis to Monkey Bars, where you maneuver down tall buildings while avoiding roadblocks and bombs.

Unfortunately, the setup of this game entailed spending about 15 minutes rearranging my furniture just so my image fit in the childlike outline on the screen. Then I had to make sure the lighting was right and, of course, make sure the picture was in focus.

After that, I was really ready to play.

Frustration and fun

Feeling like a rock star, I decided to try one of the new games, Air Guitar, which, you guessed it, lets you play the on-screen guitar -- which I am sure looked awfully odd to my neighbors.

As I strummed along, trying to match up my movements with the directions on the screen, it became clear that either I wasn't a really good guitar player, or the camera wasn't recording my movements accurately because as I strummed, the guitar wasn't making much noise.

At that point I had enough. I was ready to move on to something else. The EyeToy camera allows you to end the game by putting your hand over the camera lens -- that, of course, the camera recognized.

But when I got back to the main screen and tried to play a new game, I waved my hand over the start button for about 5 minutes before it actually registered with the game.

The next game, Bubble Pop, seemed to work a little better. Using my arms and hands, I popped screens full of blue bubbles, while trying to avoid popping the red ones.

Despite the problems with the camera, this PlayStation 2 exclusive title can be quite fun. I played a little baseball, table tennis and tried my hand at the drums. I prepared for my next career -- salting batches of fries.

If you like seeing yourself on the TV screen, take a look at "Play 2."

XThis "E-10" rated, which also allows up to four players in multiplayer mode, is definitely for an easily amused younger audience. Two out of four stars.




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