An expectation is a dangerous thing to have when playing a new game, whether it comes from hype, notoriety, an established brand or a well-respected video game developer/ publisher. When I was given an Invizimals game to review I tried my best to avoid any form of expectation, especially since I’d never bothered to play one of them before or read up on it. I walked in completely blind. Should this invizimal game be made visible, or should it stay hidden from sight?
Having not played the entire series, I was a little lost when the game started. It tries its best to make it as welcoming to newcomers, but it still feels you’re missing quite a chunk of the Invizimal universe. You play an invizimal hunter and trainer. At first you start off as a recruit, but the more you play, and the more medals you collect, your rank will improve.
The crux of the story is fairly simple, albeit obvious – during your stay on the Invizimal Island, the HQ is invaded by an evil Xtractor Corporation. The corporation creates robots called Xtractors (how original) to capture the invizimals, so that the corporation can use them for their nefarious deeds. As you’d expect, it’s up to you, and a few misfits, to travel the globe in search of powerful creatures to help fight and beat the Xtractor Corporation.
At first glance you’d look at Invizimals and think it’s another Pokémon clone. In many ways it is, but it’s also completely different. A big focus of the game is augmented reality, which is something I have to give it credit for. It’s not perfect, but it’s the most use I’ve ever had with a game. In order to catch your first invizimal, you need to find a colourful surface (so I hope it’s not dark in your room!), tap the touchscreen and watch as an egg appears and hatches on your screen. You’ll do similar things for other invizimals later in the game, but it’s not the main way in which you obtain these creatures.
You see, just like in Pokémon, each creature needs to be obtained, trained and used in battle to grow stronger. However, none of the encounters are random. All creatures are caught using the battle arena in your home base. The only way to gain experience is to enlist your invizimal in battles or tournaments. Once they become strong enough, they will be eligible to evolve and become stronger.
Battles are one of the main features in the game, but it’s usually the same old fight over and over again. Your creature only has four moves and will never gain or lose those four attacks. The only moves it will learn are combo moves, which usually requires an additional battle member. Every battle occurs in a small gladiator style arena and comes fully equipped with the world’s worst commentator, who is also in the run for the Captain Obvious award. The battling does become very repetitive, especially if you continue to use your favourite creatures all the time.
It’s not all violence though as you’ll be solving dimwit simple puzzles, navigate a maze that’s impossible to get lost in and various other mini-games that uses the PS Vita’s AR function. My biggest problem with the game’s biggest drawing card (i.e., AR) is that it’s not as stable as it should be. It really does only work if you use it on a colour surface. Move away from the surface and the screen will freak out or freeze. Aiming in AR is bit of schlep and hard depending on where you are – I had to do an AR mission on the bus once… I looked like a complete idiot waving my Vita around.
Carrying on from looking like an idiot, there are some people that look like even bigger knobs – the actors in the game. You see, a kiddie game can’t be complete until it looks like a knock-off Nickelodeon TV show. Enter the live-action sequences. I’m usually not a fan of mixing live-action with cartoon animation, and this game isn’t winning any favour. The acting is terrible, the animation is beyond unrealistic and the script is really really bad. Funny enough, the voice acting for the actual animated humans and talking invizimals is pretty good.
The game is technically short, but what gives it length is the large amount of grinding required. In order to proceed with the story, you need to complete certain objectives, and one of these objectives is to enter a specific tournament. The problem, however, is that you need to be a certain level to enter, so you’re forced to grind over and over and over again whilst listening to that annoying commentator.
Stale battling aside, the game isn’t bad, it’s just not very good. It fully embraces AR, though not perfectly, and has enough of its own flavour to be entertaining for children. The bad acting and lousy script may ward off older gamers and the lack of extras won’t help sustain it either. If you do intend to buy, just make sure you don’t have any expectations.