When I first heard about this title for the PSP, I instantly thought “Sony has finally decided to copy Nintendo’s Pokemon with its own monster capture/fight game.” I know what you’re thinking: “Capturing monsters so they can fight each other, isn’t that just ripping off Pokemon?” In concept, yes, but with Invizimals Sony takes a wholly different approach. When you think about it, using a camera, a special marker and having players hunt the monsters themselves is pretty inventive and unique. But is it good enough to topple down the empire known as Pokemon? Let’s take a look.
New Tech - After waiting years, Sony has finally released the PSP camera attachment in the US. Invizimals uses the PSP camera with its AR (augmented reality) card to have players interact with the “animals”. The combination of the camera and the augmented reality software in the game gives players a new experience, and a step closer to holodeck-type gaming.
Inventive Capturing Mechanic - Now there’s nothing new about going around and capturing creatures, but Sony gives players a new way to capture them in Invizimals. Using the PSP camera and the AR card, players must wander around their home, “scanning” different colors. As soon as a color is scanned, the card is placed on the surface and an Invizimal is lured out. In order to capture the Invizimal, a minigame is played. Every minigame for each creature is different, from waiting for the creature to get to the center and slamming down your hand on top of the card to trap it, to shaking and moving the PSP to avoid projectiles from the creature. The capture mechanic is very involving and a fresh take on the genre.
Day And Night Cycles - Not all Invizimals come out during the day. Using the internal clock of the PSP, the game has a day and night cycle which makes Invizimals active at different times of the day.
Interactive Fights - Fights play similar to Pokemon, but with a twist. Players will have access to items that will allow them to gain an edge in the battle and directly affect it outside the game. From shaking the PSP to cause an earthquake to making loud claps to summon a lighting strike, Invizimals draws the player into the action.
Feels Like A Tech Demo - As with all new attachments, the PSP camera isn’t without its flaws. There are at times where the camera wants you to be at a certain angle and height. If not at that “sweet spot” the camera will not pick up the AR card. Sometimes, and this happened a few times, the Invizimals would glitch. During battles they would disappear even though I have the AR card in my view, they would be upside down, twitching and other random things. The tech and software are impressive for a portable gaming system, but it feels kind of rushed and still at that tech demo stage.
Easy To Cheat - As I played through the capture parts of the game, I found out that it was pretty easy to cheat and capture creatures without having to roam my house to find new areas to scan. This takes away the feeling of being a trainer out in the wild searching for that next creature to capture.
Weak Story - Unlike Pokémon, which has a free roaming feel to it, Invizimals has a linear, almost forgettable story to it. Something about a researcher from Sony’s PSP division discovering the Invizimals and an evil corporation out to use that discovery for evil.
Even with its glitches, weak story, and easy ways to cheat, Invizimals still manages to impress me with its inventive gameplay and use of technology. Inivizmals unfortunately cannot compete with the monster of a franchise that is Pokemon, but in no way does that mean Invizimals is a bad game. The technology behind Invizimals is really impressive and shows that it can work. It might take a while for augmented reality gaming to catch on, but with more work and a good base to start from, Invizimals has the potential to change how games are played, just not right now.
- Mike V.
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