Now You See Them, Now You Don’t
Invizimals is a fantastic concept. Using the supplied camera, you search for strange, unseen creatures in your own home. They are there, but you can only see them with the PSP camera. Upon capturing an Invizimal, you train it and put it into battle. It’s part Fatal Frame and part Pokemon, and it’s more than a novelty. It’s a fun, playable game, but it’s not perfectly executed. I can’t help feeling this is the prototype for the real game, but I suppose we’ll have to wait for Invizimals 2 for a more flawless product. In the meantime, this is as good as it gets.
Younger gamers are going to get the most mileage from this game. Any gamer will appreciate the camera-capturing feature, mini-games, and the combat that is conducted in real-time. It does become repetitive in the broad sense, in terms of gameplay procedure, and that’s where the more mature and experienced gamer is likely to break ties with Invizimals. For those who are hooked on the game, the differences among the various creatures and what they can do in battle will be enough to keep fans riveted.
A friendly (as opposed to mad) scientist in the Sony R&D department invents a camera capable of detecting creatures invisible to the human eye. With the aid of simple video tutorials you’ll learn how to capture these Invizimals with your camera. Then you’ll be introduced to another friendly character, Professor Dawson, who will explain how to train your creature and take it into battle. The tutorials are done well, but definitely aimed at a younger audience with oversimplified terms and pandering dialogue. At least I was able to understood the concepts the first go-round.
Get your camera out and start searching around your house. Like magic these creatures will begin to appear all over the place. You’ll find them next to the TV, in front of the microwave, atop your bedroom dresser, or behind a locked door. As you move about the house, a detector will indicate an Invizimal’s proximity, letting you know when you’re getting closer to one. Once you’ve got one in your sights, you place a special Invizimal card (also supplied with the purchase of the game) on the closest surface, and entice the Invizimal toward it in an effort to capture it. The surface must be flat, and you have to make sure the card is always framed in the camera otherwise your Invizimal will become invisible again.
It’s fascinating to see virtual creatures come to life in your home. Despite the somewhat temperamental and finicky nature of the motion-detection mechanics, it’s worth the effort. If you adjust your mental attitude and consider these flaws as challenging aspects of the gameplay, you’re bound to feel less frustrated. There are more than 100 different Invizimals to capture – 123 to be exact. In the single-player mode you will have to capture them all in order to continue in the story mode. Some are more difficult to capture than others but you’ve got to get them all anyway so you may as well enjoy the challenge. Not all of them reside in your home, you’ll come across plenty of them in-game.
Capturing these little creatures requires a variety of techniques beyond locating them and corralling them on the capture card. These mini-games include swatting, yelling, blinding, blowing, balancing, and navigating them through an obstacle course. You never know what you’re going to have to do next, and that’s part of the fun. If you get stuck and can’t find a specific creature, the game will give you hints. Without spoiling the fun, let me just say that you’ll want to search for these little monsters in rooms that contain the most variety of colors and good lighting.
Battling makes up the other half of the gameplay. It’s got a good deal of depth compared to Pokemon, with a good assortment of moves and strategy elements. Other moves will be unlocked later in the game. You’ll typically start each battle with a strong attack followed by numerous smaller ones. Blocking is a defensive move designed to prevent or limit damage from the enemy. All moves require Stamina, and the bigger attacks use large amount of Stamina, forcing you to recharge before you can make another move. This leaves you totally vulnerable since you can’t block while charging.
Blow into the mic to create a windstorm. Put your hand over the camera to create a shadow and unleash a lightning attack. Shake the PSP and start an earthquake. You can look forward to these Vector attacks later in the game. When you defeat an enemy, it releases Sparks. Capturing these Sparks with the camera can be tricky, sometimes causing you to lose sight of the capture card and ultimately your Invizimal. But Sparks are important as they are the game’s currency and can be used to purchase more Stamina and special Vector moves. Invizimals increase in size and power every five levels. It’s not as deep a leveling process as a standard RPG but it does give the game depth and dynamics.
Each Invizimal is individually rendered for a unique appearance, and each is engineered for unique performances. A lot of attention and care was used in creating these creatures so it’s not a stretch of the imagination to believe these things actually exist. You supply the backgrounds, but you are limited to flat surfaces so don’t expect a lot of variety other than woodgrain and colored tablecloths. The in-game sound effects are mostly limited to combat and don’t vary much. Tutorial videos contain most of the extra production values with good narration and animation.
Multiplayer modes extend the replay value as you can challenge a friend to a one-on-one battle, or join a group of fanatics online where you can trade, swap, and barter creatures, Vector attacks, and Sparks. All these elements can be combined and configured to make the most appealing deal. Other players can negotiate further with you. This mode will be of little use to beginning players who haven’t acquired much in the way of currency.
Invizimals hints at better things to come, but you may as well get in on the ground floor and start rounding up these creatures before they overrun your household.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.0 Graphics
Creatures display unique details in appearance, animation, and performance. Blending real world environment is a great concept. 3.1 Control
The combat control scheme is easy to use, but keeping the creature on screen is difficult. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Most production values are used in cutscenes. Sound effects are repetitive. 4.4 Play Value
Fun and entertaining game for the younger demographic. 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.