Review: Invizimals: The Alliance (PSV)

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Title: Invizimals: The Alliance
Format: Game Card / PlayStation Network Download (1.6 GB)
Release Date: March 26, 2014 (EU/UK) / TBD (US)
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Developer: Novarama Technology
Original MSRP: €24.99 (EU), £19.99 (UK), TBD (US)
ESRB Rating: TBD
PEGI: 7
Invizimals: The Alliance is exclusive to PlayStation Vita.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

Editor’s Note:
Invizimals: The Alliance is integrated with Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom for the PlayStation 3 through Cross-Play. The review for Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom is available here.

With an animated television series in production, trading cards, toys, mobile apps and a jointly released PlayStation 3 game it seems the Invizimals are going to be around for awhile. Sadly I’m not sure if we will see the 470 trading cards or anything else outside of Portugal and Spain, but we can hope.

In most other games which have both a home console and portable version, the Vita tends to get a cut down and inferior port that often doesn’t link back to the home console version. Not so here, as Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom (PS3) and Invizimals: The Alliance (PS Vita) separates the same world into two unique but complimentary experiences allowing the sharing and battling of your Invizimals.

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Gameplay:
After a video intro into the world of Invizimals I was instantly tasked with learning the new SmartAR (Augmented Reality) by pointing at things with my built-in Vita camera. Now this is a new technology developed by Sony and allows the use of augmented reality objects without the need of the AR Cards, that we all end up losing anyway.

SmartAR displays an object, or in this case an Invizimal, onto a floor, table or wall by recognizing the difference between surfaces and even their orientation in the physical world. I have found it works best if the surface isn’t plain and even better, if it has something it can use as a reference. So a poster on a wall or a rug on the floor. But this game also uses the basic and now annoying AR Cards most of the time, so a search of the entire house to find them was needed, I used them during the first week or two back when I got the PS Vita and luckily kept them in a drawer.

My first objective was to capture a Gryphon Scout pup, as they are invisible I had to find it. This was made simple enough by pointing the camera at something red. A prompt for any AR Card to be shown and the pup appears, I have to dodge a fireball it spits by physically leaning out of the way, then it jumps up to the Vita itself, if I don’t hit it then it’ll attack. Once it tires then you win and the pup is yours. You can even name it, I called mine Simon.

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There are many different ways of finding the Invizimals, which is now my least favourite part of this game. You end up looking like an idiot, so make sure you do this in the privacy of your own home and not on a bus. Then the actual capturing part is mostly fun, I particularly like Bangarang, a lizard that thinks it’s in the wild west and you have to be quicker on the draw than he is. I asked my Nephew to have a go and he was a lot more forgiving than I was, he enjoyed every bit of the game and wasn’t happy when I took it back. (I told him to get his own Vita.)

You also have to construct various buildings for your newly acquired Invizimals, to eat, battle, sleep and more. This part of the game requires you to select some pieces of a particular building which you’ll rotate and spin it until they all fit together. It adds to the variety of the game and is okay but doesn’t compare to the main part of this game, the battles.

Up to four Invizimals can battle each other in various arenas which unlock during the course of the game. If you are playing the single player story then the computer controls the other players but you can switch to your other teammate at any time. Even with four creatures battling it out on screen I didn’t notice any slow down.

As you progress through the game you’ll notice quite a deep battle system hidden behind the easy pick up and play style. If you start timing the moves and blocks it is possible to take down a difficult enemy. You also need to learn which Invizimal to use as they all have their strengths and weaknesses against each other. For what looks and in some ways plays like a kids game, this is a very competent battle game which can get quite addictive.

With more videos progressing the story between completing objectives, battles and tournaments, it adds a nice layer to the mode which kids especially will enjoy and I’m not ashamed to admit that I’m starting to enjoy it too.

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Visuals:
With the main focus of this game being the creatures, thankfully they look great. There’s plenty of detail and variety with smooth animations. Even when using the Augmented Reality the graphics look crisp and very smooth. But make sure you have some good lighting in the room when using AR as it can drastically improve the performance.

Full-screen video segments are scattered throughout the game, either progressing the story or as short tutorials. It plays out like a kids television show so can end up looking a bit cheesy, but you have to remember the main audience and sit back and enjoy. You can also just skip it to get back into the action if you want. You even see some crossover with the PS3 game which is nice.

My girls adore most of the pups and think they look cute. I appreciate the different look each Invizimal has as it grows up. With so many different looks there is a brilliant variety and feel to the roster. With my wife forced to scour the internet for the toys I can see why kids are so obsessed with this game.

Audio:
Excellent quality of voice work from Brian Blessed who you’ll mostly hear during battles. A small group of actors make up the cast telling the story, all of whom do an adequate job with the lines they are given. You’ll hear a lot of Matt McCooey playing the part of Keni, who also does some tutorial videos.

I enjoyed the music and sound effects in the game, from the yelps and growls to the upbeat little tunes in the menus. Now it hasn’t got an amazing orchestral score or even much of a recognizable soundtrack but it doesn’t need it and to be honest I’m glad the developers put their resources into other things.

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Online/Multiplayer:
This game does feature online play but the first time I ventured into a quick battle against a random opponent, they picked an insanely powerful character and beat my little pup in one hit. What makes the defeat really annoying is that they took my little Invizimal character. Poor Simon, you will be missed.

You can play Ad Hoc, Cross-Play, Online or just share your Invizimals and items with your PS3. Apart from Ad Hoc I used them all and didn’t run into any problems or issues; no lag or glitches in a single match.

In playing this game with the family, using the PS3 Cross-Play is obsessively good, especially when you have the option to team up and have four Invizimals battling it out. I adjusted the amount of rounds to three so we spent more time in matches and it got very frantic. My girls would switch to both attack me and then go after the wife, it was a risky tactic but surprisingly paid off on a few occasions.

Conclusion:
With 150 different Invizimals to find, capture, train and battle, this game is packed full of content. On and offline tournaments and battles can make the game last even longer. Sharing Invizimals with your PS3 game and even getting them from friends when you beat them in battle is great. If they don’t bring out the TV show, trading cards and toys in the UK (since they’re only in mainland Europe at the moment) it’s a missed opportunity in my book as kids seem to love it and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m hooked too. It has got a few annoying capturing mini-games but never to the point that even my children couldn’t complete them.

With the right marketing I could see this become a massive hit for Sony, but sadly I think it’ll just end up passing most people by. Now if you don’t mind I’m going to steal it back from my kids and have a few more battles.

Score: 
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature.

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Written by Chazz Harrington

Chazz Harrington

You can find me on everything: PSN, Twitter, Wii U, Origin, Steam, etc using my universal ID: ChazzH69

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