Reviewed on: PlayStation 3
Reviewed by: Bracken Lee-Rudolph
Invizimals is a series that markets itself to the youthful market of gamers; those not yet old or mature enough to play, or fully comprehend, titles such as GTA or Call of Duty (although that very rarely stops them). In the same category as Skylanders and Disney Infinity, without the toys and with VITA linking, Invizimals never quite lives up to the standards set by its competitors.
Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom is the first entry in the series which makes its way to the PlayStation 3 system, having experienced success in the portable and augmented reality fields. The story follows Hiro, a young boy who travels through a Shadow Gate into the Invizimals’ world, which is under attack from the Steel Invizimals. Hiro must now try and stop these invaders by using the powers that numerous Invizimals give him along the way.
This story is by no means groundbreaking, and most of the game is filled with dull, clichéd lines and a lack of narrative cohesion. While I understand that a game aimed at children is never going to be a narrative masterclass, the generic characters, draining dialogue, and poor storytelling are sub-par even for a game aimed at children.
The gameplay, at least in the campaign, is as monotonous as its story. The game combines basic platforming elements with just as basic combat elements to create – you guessed it – a very basic gameplay mechanic, with very little depth. You can unlock 16 different Invizimals, some of which are necessary for progress. Each of these Invizimals have 6 different abilities which can be unlocked through a simple RPG type menu where you spend Z balls (which are available in abundance) to unlock new moves for your character. While the different characters do add some much needed variety, and the RPG elements are nice, both are largely irrelevant considering how weak the enemies are and that you can only equip 2 special attacks at a time, which largely all do the same thing.
The levels are large, and often quite expansive, but there is little reason to explore them fully, given that any Z balls you need are often available on the linear path to the end of the level. The camera seems to be maniacally built to actively obstruct the player, which makes exploration that much more tedious and frustrating. In fact, the only things that will make you stray from the beaten path (if you aren’t a completionist) are the sparks and Invizimal statuettes, both of which allow you to unlock items in the Battle Arenas (characters and power-ups respectively). Additionally, progressing in the campaign allows more arenas to be unlocked to fight in, and other than the brief aerial and submerged sections of the title, the Battle Arena is the most fun you’ll get out of the title.
The Battle Arena mode allows you to fight with miniature versions of certain Invizimals in arenas. In short, each Invizimal has 4 moves which inflict different amounts of damage, and have different ranges, radii and cooldown times. As you win fights, you’ll level up, allowing you to alter your character’s stats to tailor them to your needs. In short, the Battle Mode, although a peripheral game mode, has the most substance, in terms of gameplay mechanics, in the entire game. The RPG influences are more outright in this mode and the battles are frenetic and fun, unlike the dreary campaign.
This mode can be played with up to 4 players locally or online and links with the PS VITA title, Invizimals: The Alliance, to allow Cross Play between the two platforms. Keep in mind when buying the title that you’ll have to download a 2.6GB patch before playing online.
Graphically, the title, despite aiming at cartoony visuals, does look quite dated, with textures looking jagged or pixelated and facial features not being rendered in enough detail. What does look good are the arenas in the Battle Arena mode, even if the character models themselves don’t look great. Cutscene graphics are well rendered and very smooth, but that’s not saying much, considering how few there are.
The audio is a mixed bag of good and hopeless. The voice acting is quite bad, doesn’t convey very much emotion and just seems uninspired. On the bright side, there are lots of British accents! Other than that, the soundtrack is energetic and lively, and the sound effects are passable, if also uninspired.
If you can get past the dull gameplay and the unappealing story, Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom will give you a lot of play time. However, for those looking for a game with a little more substance, variety, and constructive content, children included, you’d be advised to rather consider the Skylanders or Ratchet and Clank franchises for the PlayStation 3.
Invizimals’ first journey onto home consoles is not a successful one. Despite a fun Battle Arena mode, the gameplay at large is quite poor and won’t keep player’s captivated for very long. For the most part, the visuals look outdated, if not wholly terrible, but are redeemed somewhat by some good looking arenas in the Battle Arena mode.
The multiplayer is quite fun, but slightly imbalanced. However, since it allows local multiplayer, it may be a good option when your child has friends over. The voice acting is quite terrible, but the soundtrack and sound effects pull the sound performance to just above average. Fans of the franchise may enjoy this game, but for a parent looking for a good game to give their children, you would be well advised to look at other, better established franchises.
Lasting Appeal: 4/10