Friday, December 15, 2017
07.12.09

Invizimals

 

Invizimals“Seeing an Invizimal appear for the first time on the kitchen table is quite magical.”

Review of Invizimals: one of the first "augmented reality" games released.

Invizimals is a new twist on the classic creature "collect and fight" genre. Essentially it's the Sony version of Pokémon, but with a twist.

The twist is something quite unique too. Instead of hunting around a game world to find your monsters, you use your living room, or the train your on, or the office. Anywhere you have a bit of movement and don't mind people looking at you like you've lost your marbles really.

The game uses a PSP Go! camera. This mustn't be confused with the new PSP Go console. The PSP Go! camera is an add-on camera device that plugs into the USB port on the top of your PSP. Also note, there isn't a PSP Go version of the game as of the time of writing this (December 2009).

Those clever chaps at Sony have produced a story based on the idea that there are invisible animals living in the world. Only you can see them using your PSP and the camera attachment. You simply place the (provided) plastic "trap" down where you find a creature, and try to capture them.

Ice Lion

 The creatures can live anywhere. On your sofa, like this Icelion...

Hunting for the Invizimals is a little tricky. Different Invizimals hide around different coloured objects. The idea is to hunt around for the right colour. You wander around your home, pointing at flat surfaces until a sensor bar starts to "blip". Using a technique of "hotter/colder", you find the area the Invisimal is hiding in. Drop down the plastic trap and the Invizimal magically appears on the screen.

It sounds pretty ridiculous, and it is - but it's also quite convincing. Seeing an Invizimal appear for the first time on the kitchen table is quite magical. The software is clever enough to track the Invizimal too, so as you pan, rotate and zoom with the PSP (by moving it) the Invizimal is shown at different angles and closer/further away. Technology wise, it's brilliant!

Mobula

.. Or on a crate of beer like Mobula...

To actually gain an Invizimal into your repertoire, there is a mini-game you must play. It may be getting the Invizimal to hop from rock to rock into the trap, or the shoot it using invisible lasers, or sneak up on it and swat it with your hand. The mini-games are an interesting distraction, and will be familiar to anybody who has played Wii or DS games with them. It's nothing world shattering, but it's the way the creature is sitting there, in your home waiting to be caught. It's captivating.

Stingwing

... Or like this Stingwing which had the be splatted, on a bed...

The main body of the game will be quickly recognised by anybody who has played a Pokémon type of monster battle game. You choose your Invizimal and go into a head to head fight. Each Invizimal is one of six "elemental types" - such as air, earth, fire, ice, etc. Some elemental types have more success against others, and some elemental types are impervious to damage by some attack types (for instance an Ice elemental Invizimal can't be hurt by a slash attack). So in choosing your Invizimal to fight with, there's a degree of strategy required, and knowledge of both your Invizimal, and the one you're about to battle with.

There are a few extra additions here and there. Special attacks, "sparks" (the game's currency left behind when you make an attack) and a full video story all add into the depth of the game and its universe. So, what's it actually like then?

Hilltopper on the toilet

... Or taking playing a game on the toilet to a new lever with this Hilltrapper.

There's a problem here now. I'm actually too old for this kind of game. The basic monster battle genre leaves me cold. I love the technology, and I love the mini-games, but just don't get on with the core of the game. It's too simple and repetitive for me.

So, how about Maxi-Minor_Furie. At four, this should be right up his street? Nope, he's too young. The game mechanics are beyond him (even with help) and he can't understand that the creatures are supposed to be invisible in the real world, and not just on the screen. I discovered this after telling him to swat the Stingwing on the bed, and he smacked the PSP so hard the camera fell off.

Minor_Furie seems to hit the mark though. At thirteen I thought he may be a little old, but he's not quite. He does seem to enjoy the game. He likes the hunt, and the battling (and consequent powering up of the Invizimals). The strategy is just right for him too - WE HAVE A WINNER!

The game is 7+ rated, and with good reason, it's just that bit too complicated and abstract (in terms of hunting the creatures) for a younger market. That seven-to-teen market will love this though. It has all the best elements of a battle game, with the coolness of the camera feature.

Just remember, you will need a PSP Go! camera (available for around £20) and the game. The game comes either on its own for around £18 (if you already have the camera) or packaged with a new version of the Go! camera for around £30 (less if you hunt about a bit).

Details of the PSP Go! Camera here:
http://uk.playstation.com/psp/news/articles/detail/item63421/Go!Cam-go/

Check out the Invizimals web page here (and play the game to win an exclusive Invizimal):
http://www.invizimals.com/invizimals.php

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