This is another Augmented Reality camera game for the PSP. Fortunately, it’s aimed at a slightly older audience than the recent EyePet Adventures. Capturing and battling monsters is what’s on offer here, think Pokémon, but using the PSP’s camera attachment to hunt them down in the real world.
As an Invizimals hunter, you explore your real-life surroundings with your PSP, scanning surfaces to home in on one of the invisible creatures. When you detect one, lay down the card supplied with the game to reveal the little monster. Different coloured surfaces reveal different monsters in each of the globetrotting stages.
Once you find one, you must overcome a challenge to capture it for your collection. At first, you only have to slap your hand down on the card to get them, but it isn’t long before things get a lot more complicated. The worst offender being the three-stage capture where you have to play a snooker-style shot by turning your PSP around the card to line up the best shot and rebound the creature off several walls into a target zone, then through a gauntlet of moving walls and then into a moving bracket. There’s a harsh time limit too, meaning you’ll have to scan for the Invizimal again and again when you fail. It’s ridiculously tough and irritating trying to orientate the PSP to get the cue to behave.
Other games are less complicated, like guiding a Cyclops through a dark forest looking for sheep, or picking up spikes of ice to pen in a target. There’s often clever use of the augmented reality on display, it’s just a shame it’s so hit and miss technically. Having to keep the card in shot is often a problem; hopefully similar games on the Vita won’t require these extra items.
Despite the tutorial saying you can only scan flat horizontal surfaces, you can use any if you hold the capture card up to the camera to reveal the Invizimal, as you can put the card down on any flat surface for the capturing game itself. This opens up more hunting options, as there are only so many times you can scan the carpet or the sofa. If you have a colour guidebook for a range of paints, then you’re laughing. If you’re a goth or a prison inmate, this isn’t for you.
Once you’ve captured a creature, you can use it in battle as the camera turns your surroundings into an arena. Simple commands are used in semi-turn-based matches. A recharging stamina bar depletes with each of the various face-button attacks or guarding. The AI’s defence is crushingly strong, meaning you often have to weather the storm before being able to attack with a chance of doing any damage. Some of the opponents carry loads of health potions, leaving you feeling like you’re whizzing in the wind most of time. There are rare opportunities to use spells like firewaves or earthquakes that are energised by shaking the PSP. Sadly, slapping your opponent or getting the cat involved does nothing. Pets Vs Invizimals for the Vita?
Victories reward you with XP to level up your Invizimal, along with a specific stat increase. It’s a lot more in-depth than the terrible kid’s TV drama storyline would have you believe.
With so many creatures available though, you’ll be hard-pushed as to decide who is worth levelling up. It’s a slow process and it can feel like a grind very early on. By the time you reach the tag-team tournaments you’ll find your fighters completely outclassed in their current state. Ultimately, the combat lacks the depth required to make grinding anything less than tedious. Extra one-off skills can be bought with sprites collected during battles by moving the camera around and pressing X when the cursor waves over them (the game never actually tells you this), but it’s cumbersome and distracting from the fighting.
Battles and hunts are broken up by occasional puzzles where you piece together ripped up letters and mosaics. They work really well, but they often have needless time limits imposed, meaning it’ll take a few attempts to get right.
The story uses filmed actors to talk directly at you. It’s all a bit uncomfortable, as it feels more like watching presenters on children’s TV reading out a story in condescending voices. You know the voice, like all children watching are five. Brian Blessed is the only name you’d recognise and he gets out-acted by the torch under his chin.
- Camera capturing is a great concept
- Many Invizimals to find
- Jigsaw puzzles are fun
- Some captures are tough to the point of being broken
- Battles are too hard without loads of grinding
- Slips between the cracks of any target audience
The Short Version: A few technical shortcomings hamper an occasionally enjoyable augmented reality experience of Invizimal capturing. The battles are too difficult for a children’s game and the story will put off anyone older. If you’re up for a challenge though and want to play something truly different to most games out there, then it might be worth a shot.