I’ll admit I was skeptical when I got my first look at Invizmals for the PSP. Capturing small creatures and doing battle with them was a surprisingly large part of my childhood, but what are these Invizimals? Luckily, this isn’t just some poor imitation, but a surprisingly compelling entry into the monster battling genre with a new twist thanks to the PSP camera. It’s augmented reality weaved right into the games experience in interesting ways that keep Invizimals fresh throughout the experience.  Some technical problems did occasionally frustrate, but the pluses heavily out way the negatives when it came to the inclusion of this technology. Something about actually moving around a 3d character in real life to get a better angle feels extremely engaging. Using your hands, voice and the environment around you to interact with onscreen characters is a great way to draw the player in and luckily the actual game part is pretty fun as well.

What’s That Camera For?

If you know anything about tracking software, you know it can be a real headache. I’ve even experienced some of that myself in my limited time spent with tracking, maybe that’s why I was so impressed at the games ability to place characters on screen and keep them there as you move about. It’s not perfect, but it is pretty darn impressive. The game includes a specifically designed “trap card” which has specially located markings and shapes on the surface of the card to help track the planes and characters. It all works almost without a hitch. I did run into a few snags were the game seemed not to want to recognize the card. It’s not perfect like I said, but it’s very good.

The game explains to you early that Invizimals are all around us, and using the PSP you can capture them and train them. The videos featuring actors are just over the top enough to not be trying too hard. I’m sure that to someone younger than myself, they would have been much more effective. During the game you travel around the world gathering up Invizimals and battling different champions while learning new techniques. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it’s a straight forward experience based on a solid premise that is well executed.

You as the player are no longer just allowed to slouch back into the couch and jam on buttons. This is a two way street. If you want this game to work for you, you’re going to have to work for it… in some ways. Something that sounds simple like capturing an Invizimal is an interactive experience. The most basic example is waiting for the Invizimal to stumble onto the trap card, and then slamming down your hand on the card to lock the creature in. These mini games range from excellent to horrible, but at least they are all unique. The game also encourages you to move around and find many different colored surfaces to scan for Invizimals, and this can become a little tedious. It hurts the flow of the game to constantly be looking for a different color surface to scan, only to find that one doesn’t work this time. Eventually I just grabbed a bunch of different colored pieces of paper and tried them until I found one that worked. Once you’ve actually captured the Invizimals on your list, it’s time to dual!


Fighting with Invizimals works like you would might imagine, it is a 1 on 1 fight, but it is not turn based. Each creature has a stamina bar that requires you to plan your attacks according a lot to what the enemy is doing. Their is definitely strategy to battling. Heavy attacks take up a lot of stamina, but do massive damage, while quick attacks require a lot less energy but don’t do much damage. It’s a balancing act and rewards the player for doing some research into what attack works best against the type of Invizimal they are fighting. For example you shouldn’t waste time trying to cut an ice Invizimal because they are immune to it. Picking the proper attack really helps turn the tides of a battle. Winning battles gives you experience which can be spent to upgrade your Invizimal in a selection of areas. Also, during the battle you can move your PSP around the battle ground collecting orbs that shoot off of characters which can be spent on potions and special attacks. It’s a little distracting when you’re trying to focus on your enemies animation (to predict his move) but doesn’t really hurt the experience that much.

One head scratching moment during Invizimals is when the game tells you to shake your PSP up and down to activate the Earthquake power. For a game that focuses on keeping characters flat on a battleground, shaking the PSP around doesn’t do anyone any favors. Luckily the software is incredibly quick at reallocating the trap and centering the game world. These small problems don’t take away from the overall experience, which I enjoyed a fair bit. The game doesn’t burst onto the scene with original concepts (capture the creature, battle with the creature…the creature evolves…) but with the edition of the PSP camera and tracking software, Invizimals tries a lot and succeeds at plenty.

[starreview tpl=46 size=’30’]

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