Invizimals: Shadow Zone

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Invizimals: Shadow Zone Game Poster Image
Camera-based creature collection game with mild violence.
  • PSP
  • $39.99
  • 2011

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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

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.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

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What's it about?

Like its predecessor, INVIZIMALS: SHADOW ZONE is a Pokemon-like creature collection game with an augmented reality twist: The titular creatures are supposedly hiding in the real world, just waiting to be discovered using the PSP camera and a cardboard trap (both of which come included with the game). Following a story that plays out with live actors, players point the camera at specific objects in their environments to search for the concealed creatures. Once captured, they can be customized, trained, and traded with other players before eventually squaring off in battle with other Invizimals. More than 100 new creatures come in this sequel, which also features new multiplayer modes, both local and online.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about caring for pets and other animals. Would you ever want to see animals fight? How do you feel when you see the creatures you capture in a game fighting each other? 

  • Families can also discuss augmented reality games. Do you like games that make it seem as though there are invisible objects all around us that can only be seen with a camera? Does a live action game narrative make the experience seem more realistic, or less? 

Game details

For kids who love playing with animals

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