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Publisher: Freeverse    Genre: Miscellaneous
Min OS X: 10.1.5    CPU: G3 @ 400 MHz    RAM: 256 MB

ToySight Gold
December 15, 2005 | Michael Scarpelli

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Those aren't my hands. Those are the hands of God himself guiding that parachuter. I promise.
This ToySight Gold review is making me a little nervous. From what I can tell, people love the ToySight gaming technology. Similar to the EyeToy available for the Playstation 2, ToySight employs the iSight to put the gamer literally in the game. Using the camera, ToySight tracks the gamer's movement and locks onto moving points like fingers and hands to control the actions in the 12 mini-games and 3 gadget-type applications included in the package. Controls are handled by moving arms or hands in designated slider or aiming areas that control the on-screen actions.

It sounds harmless. In fact, it sounds like an awesome innovation to the way games are played. Just like party games such as Dance Dance Revolution or Karaoke Revolution or even the new Guitar Hero, ToySight Gold gets something other than the gamer's ten fingers working to control the game and accesses a whole different skill-set. Innovation! Everyone loves innovation. I did some reading around the internet, and lo and behold, critics love ToySight! Innovation! Kick ass!

What makes me nervous about this review for ToySight, however, is that while almost everyone seems to love ToySight in spite of its many shortcomings, its many shortcomings have pushed me more than once into a nearly-psychotic fit of gaming frustration. I can't like it. I tried. But I can't. I'll start telling you why so you don't try to Google my house and come beat me up because you love Freeverse. Come on man, I love Freeverse, too. Just don't hit me in the face.

The Long Ascent
As with all things Apple, it is blissfully easy to get ToySight Gold up and running with my iSight. Plug the iSight in, turn it on, open the application and sit back and wait for the magic to happen. When the game boots, it will ask you to stand clear of the camera so it can scan the background and then use that info to sort out what is you and what is static background to use when it's actually time for you to sit down and start playing.

Right off the bat, the funky issues began for me. Selection and control of everything in the game is managed by movement and “touch”. Reach up to “touch” an item on the main screen to select it, a second time to open it. The problem here was that after moving out of the camera's way to let it scan the backdrop, when I went to sit back down, my movement started to activate all sorts of menu movement. On another occaision, the game appeared to have navigated around the menu screen on its own and when I sat down it was all ready to start a game that it had apparently decided to select on its own. Odd. These are not huge problems, but they are indicative of some issues with the technology itself, which is buggier than it should be.

Once I mastered the menu section, I was ready to jump into some gaming. There's a good mix of single and multiplayer games available in ToySight Gold, so I was pleased to see I had a few titles to sample. I made a mistake by selecting The Owl and the Pussycat as my first game to try. Let me pause a moment and tell you that every game in ToySight has a learning curve. It's not hard to pick up each game because the controls are difficult, what is difficult is learning to live inside the control area for each game.

Let's take a look at The Owl and the Pussycat. In this game, the gamer controls an owl who carries the pussycat around the level by holding onto him with his talons. To move the owl, gamers must flap their arms up and down, controlling two sliders on the right and left sides of the screen. Flap more on one side to move more in the opposite direction. Simple. However, when doing an action as broad as flapping arms, it's very difficult to stay within the very thin bounds of the slider control area that ToySight provides to the gamer. In every game, a ghosted image of the gamer is projected over the background to show where arms and hands are located in relation to the control fields for the camera, but in spite of this, I found myself virtually unable to move my owl, both because the rhythm was hard to get and because I would constantly be moving part of my hand out of the field of control while I was flapping. Then my arms would get tired and I would get fed up and quit the game. I tried it a few times, and always the same result. Woo! Party!


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