The Invizimals are back, but did they ever go away?
It has been a while since we have had an Invizimals game for PlayStation platforms. Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom has been released for the PlayStation 3 alongside the portable Invizimals: The Alliance on Vita, and owning both will give players some interesting cross-play options. However, for those only forking out for the PS3 version, what awaits is an absence of VR trickery and a heavy does of kid-friendly action platforming.
And it all begins with a rather cheesy live action introduction in which we see the young hero, Hiro, doing his best Indiana Jones impression. From here, we head back to the lab and, after some more cheesiness, Hiro goes through a Shadow Gate into the world of the Invizimals, and we are back into graphically created content, thank the heavens.
This is where the game starts proper, and players will be treated to ongoing tutorial tips to just explain exactly what is going on. Coming through the Shadow Gate Hiro was supposed to be met by Invizimals, but something is up and it will be down to our hero to work out what is going on.
If it was just down to young Hiro, this may be a problem. But within seconds, an Invizimal called Ocelotl appears and explains that while he cannot help Hiro, he can give Hiro the ability to transform into an Ocelotl Invizimal form, and use the abilities that are available to Ocelotl.
This mechanic is the basis for the entire game. Players will find other Invizimals on their journey and be able to transform into them to overcome whatever challenge awaits them. By pressing a button, a wheel will appear on screen that allows the player to choose their form, as they unlock them. Besides the different attacks that these forms offer to fight the bad guys, other abilities include the likes of swimming, climbing vines on walls or even swinging across large gaps. Hiro brings his own skills to the game as well, being able to walk across thin beams whilst the gyroscope in the controller is manipulated to keep balance. When a skill is needed, the character will automatically transform into the required form.
There are some nice environments to work through on this adventure, with plenty of variety and even the chance to wander off the linear path to explore somewhat. There are also an abundance of Z-Sparks to collect along the way, along with some other collectibles.
The Z-Sparks work as a type of currency that allows the player to upgrade the different abilities of their various forms, or unlock new abilities. This keeps the play moving forward as much as finding the collectibles and other Invizimals, but players will quickly find their favorite moves and stick with them for the majority of the game.
Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom is the first console outing for developers Magenta Software, and it perhaps shows in the looseness of the controls. On more than one occasion, a platform has been missed due to poor precision, combat moves have resulted in falling from a height as the auto movement included lunging forward, and the fixed camera leaves players unable to see what is ahead. These are not big problems, but they do separate the game from quality releases such as Ratchet & Clank, leaving it more grouped with the various movie tie-in games that so frequently disappoint.
However, Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom is targeted at the same audience as such movie tie-in games, the young fans. While the UK kids wait for the TV show, trading cards and toys that I am sure will eventually hit these shores, they can start playing both this game and the Vita version to get a feel for the world. Personally, I think Sony would have been better served to release these games when the hype actually hits the UK as kids are not known for planning ahead.
Still, for the younger audience, Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom works really well. The precision faults are more forgivable for kids, and the puzzles in which the players will need to work out which abilities they need to proceed are spot on. Whilst this is most certainly no good for veteran gamers, for young gamers it is bright, colourful and easy to play.
Which about sums the game up. Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom is a game aimed at kids, and works well for them. The game has some problems, and is not the most imaginative release, but none that will really diminish the enjoyment for a younger audience. Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom is the perfect accompaniment for Invizimals: The Alliance on Vita, and will serve to keep your little ones entertained for a good while.