A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
There is a mixed message here. Players are supposed to find, collect, and care for Invizimals, and yet they also pit them in fights against each other. The violence, though mild, is slightly at odds with the tone of the rest of the game.
Positive Role Models
The game's narrative plays out in the real world and is told with live, human actors who tend to be a smiling, kindly bunch and offer plenty of support.
Ease of Play
Finding and capturing Invizimals with the camera is pretty simple stuff. Battles are easy, too. This game is clearly geared towards a younger audience.
Violence & Scariness
Players pit fantastical creatures -- tigers with wings, spiky sharks, oddly-shaped reptiles -- against each other in Pokemon-style battles. These creatures pose and try to look intimidating, but are only about as scary as a Saturday morning cartoon. Their attacks -- composed of fireballs, energy blasts, and other kinds of magic -- cause opponents to grunt and collapse, but not die.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Invizimals: Shadow Zone is a Pokemon-like creature collection game that uses the PSP camera and a cardboard trap (both come included with the game). Players find Invizimals in the environment by scanning objects with the camera, capture them, and then pit them in battle against each other. While the violence is fantastical and mild -- Invizimals suffer attacks ranging from flaming breath to big toy mallets, and merely collapse rather than die -- it may send a mixed message to young players, who are supposed to be the caretakers of these little digital creatures. Note that this game supports online play with open voice chat, a feature that Common Sense Media does not recommend for pre-teens.
Is It Any Good?
Invizimals: Shadow Zone is a case of game developers opting not to mess too much with a more or less winning formula. There are more fantastical beasts, players can customize them to a greater degree, and they have a larger selection of attacks, but catching the Invizamals and then matching them up against opponents feels about the same as it did last time through.
That said, Invizimals: Shadow Zone still manages to stand out from the creature collector crowd, thanks mostly to its clever use of the PSP camera. Hunting through your home for the right objects to call out hidden Invizimals remains fresh and fun, and the game's live action story -- which is upbeat and surprisingly well-acted -- gives the narrative a flavor all its own. Its audience will be niche, particularly given that the PSP isn't necessarily the handheld game machine of choice for franchise's target age group, but those who give it a chance will likely feel well rewarded.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.