Invizimals – In-Depth Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Portable.
Move over Pikachu. There’s a new group of monsters in town.
Monster hunting games like Pokemon never really got me excited. However, my daughter, having had the video games, trading cards, and even that little talking Pikachu doll that parents destroyed malls and fought over tooth and nail for in the late 90’s, gave me quite a bit of exposure to the concept.
Invizimals, on the other hand, is a different beast altogether. Pun intended.
In Invizimals, you assist Kenichi Nakamura, a Japanese PSP R&D researcher with his new discovery: Monsters not only exist, but they can be seen magically through the use of the PSP camera. Your job, should you accept it, is to track these Invizimals down.
Using your PSP with camera attachment plugged in, you can scan around your room or wherever you may be, looking for the energy signatures of these hidden creatures. When you get a strong enough reading, you can lay down your trap and capture it. Once you’ve captured a creature, you can bring it out to challenges (like a Pokemon battle) where your Invizimals will gain experience in the way of Watts and level up to become stronger.
As you progress through the story, you find out that all is not well in PSP R&D as the nefarious Kaminsky has hacked into their computers and is stealing the Invizimals technology. And it’s up to you to defeat this evil man!
Invizimals is an augmented reality game. It uses the PSP camera to view your room and scan for objects where an Invizimal may be “hiding”. It’s a pretty simple mechanic as the game is actually looking for a surface with a particular color. If you walk around a while and aren’t able to find the Invizimal that you need to hunt, the announcer in the game will clue you in to the color that you need to be looking for. I’ve actually had to get pretty creative with finding particular colors such as purple (using my Kinect Sports box). But finding the creatures is only part of the fun.
Once you’ve detected an Invizimal, you lay down a trap card to capture it. The trap card is essentially a fiduciary marker, or point of reference if you will, for the game to see the playspace. You then match up some spinning symbols to reveal the Invizimal that you’ve found. Once this is done, you will then have to capture it. This is done in a variety of ways including battling it, feeding it, tickling it (yes, really), or squashing it.
Now you have an Invizimal, what do you do? Why, you battle with other Invizimals of course!
The turn-based battle system is pretty straightforward and easy to manage. Each Invizimal has a a range of attacks and the ability to block inbound attacks. Also, each Invizimal is associated to one of six “elementals”: Fire, Ice, Rock, Ocean, Desert, and Jungle. Like most elemental games, each elemental will cause more damage to an opposite elemental (e.g. a Fire attack would be especially damaging to an Ocean elemental), whereas attacks to the same elemental-based opponent will heal However, it would actually heal another Fire based opponent.
Furthermore, you’re able to use different attacks ranging from weak to strong, each using a different amount of stamina that your monster has available to it. The stamina gauge slowly refills over time during the battle, forcing you to strategize a little bit as to what attacks you’ll be using against your opponent. For example, opening with your strongest attack may not be the best strategy, as your opponent will block it right off the bat, forcing you to spend a large amount of your available stamina quickly, and leaving you vulnerable to their attacks.
During the battle, you can use “Vectors” as well. Some Vectors are extra powerful attacks such as Earthquake, while others are used to refill your monster’s stamina gauge or health. The “super attack” Vectors are also interactive. Like with Earthquake, once you activate it, you’ll need to shake your PSP to inflict the maximum amount of damage. This provides for a very interesting mechanic and brings the action a little closer to reality.
You can also collect sparks during the battle. This serves as your currency in the game. Sparks are cast off of the creatures when they take damage in the battle. While you’re battling, you need to pick up these sparks by aiming the center of the PSP screen at them. This actually can be quite distracting during the battle, because it takes your attention away from the action, and you can sometimes have issues with the PSP again losing tracking of the trap card.
Overall I think that Invizimals is a very ingenious and enjoyable game. I’m sure that as soon as my 12 year-old finds out that I have it, I may lose custody of my PSP as well. I had to be forgiving of the story because it was a bit too loose to really keep an adults attention. The characters were very fun and the videos they showed up in were entertaining. However, it was very clear that this was designed with a pre-teen or younger child in mind.
The game also supports local LAN multiplayer battling as well, but not online support through the PSN, which would have been nice to have so I could go online and do some more battling. But once again, it’s a kids game, so I can forgive that as well.
Aside from the occasional technical glitches with tracking the trap card, I really can’t find any solid complaints about this game. For someone who has never particularly cared for the Monster Hunter/RPG genre, I found this to be an exceptionally fun game. If you don’t mind the odd stares that you might get from your significant other while you walk around the house, eyes glued to your PSP, and going through cabinets, magazines, and whatever else may be lying around like a crazy person, you will probably enjoy this game too.
I give this game a 4.25/5.
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