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Digital Cameras Propel User into Virtual Gaming World

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October 22, 2004 – THQ Inc. Gaming company announced today that its new interactive PlayStation 2 game, Nicktoons Movin’ EyeToy, will be available in the United States on store shelves immediately. The game incorporates the EyeToy USB digital camera to record the user and broadcast them on the television screen with popular Nickelodeon TV show characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants and Jimmy Neutron. Players interact with characters on-screen when hand and arm movements are transposed to the virtual world of the game.

The EyeToy USB camera sits on top of the television set and records the user as they play the game. Players must be 1 ½ to 2 meters away from the TV set for the recording to be properly processed. When plugged into the PlayStation 2, the camera propels the user into the "game’s reality." When the camera senses the player’s movements, it sends a signal to the game to "tell" the characters what move was made so they can react. The EyeToy also adjusts the focus automatically, so players don’t have to readjust after every movement. The camera sounds high-tech, but it’s certainly not a replacement for a traditional camera or camcorder.

"It’s pretty low resolution," said Jennifer Campana, a media representative for THQ Inc. "When it puts you on the screen, you can clearly see yourself, but it’s not high-definition."

SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick Star host 13 mini-games in Nicktoons Movin’ EyeToy. The games are based off several TV shows: "SpongeBob SquarePants," "The Fairly Odd Parents," "Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius," "Rocket Power" and "Danny Phantom." Up to eight players at a time can go bowling with SpongeBob, fix Cosmo and Wanda’s fish bowl, go for a drive with Mrs. Puff or help Jimmy Neutron land his high-powered rocket. Players can also play street hockey with Otto, help Timmy smash robots and use superhero powers to trap ghosts with Danny Phantom. The cartoon is rated ‘E’ for everyone for its mild cartoon violence.

The Nicktoons: Movin’ EyeToy game will be sold for $19.99. The EyeToy digital camera is sold separately for about $49. Campana said prices of PlayStations are dropping, so accessory prices are expected to fall as well.

The EyeToy digital camera can be used for other games as well. On the EyeToy: Play game, there are twelve interactive games to choose from. "Kung Foo" allows the player to punch and kick from round to round, "Wishi Washi" challenges kids to wash virtual windows in a speedy manner, "Keep Ups" lets the player bounce a soccer ball into the air repeatedly and "Beat Freak" is a toned down version of Dance Dance Revolution. The EyeToy: Groove game is the upper-body version of Dance Dance Revolution. Players can watch themselves as they move their arms to follow the arrows and stars while jamming to hits such as "Jungle Boogie" and "Move Your Feet."

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"One of the games puts you in a big hamster ball," Campana said. "It gives you the sensation that you’re moving. I was working up some sweat!" So perhaps the EyeToy isn’t for those people who get motion sickness easily, but it is an innovative use of digital cameras that is sure to augment the virtual gaming realm and lead to other advances in various fields in the future.

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