Published by Sony Computer
Developed by Novarama
In 2010 we took a look at Invizimals: Shadow Zone, a game that allowed you to use your camera equipped PSP to find invisible animals in objects that you'll find in your home. Once you had found one of these invisible animals (or Invizimals as they are called) you can catch them and use them to battle with. On the whole the game was a mediocre affair with virtually no support for deaf gamers. Invizimals: The Lost Tribes picks up the storyline where Invizimals: Shadow Zone left off. In a nutshell, Keni has disappeared into the Shadow Zone and it's now up to you to find him. The Lost Tribes manages to retain the high points and regrettably the low points of its prequel.
In The Lost Tribes there are a total of 150 Invizimals to collect and you'll find yourself travelling to various regions of the world to locate them. In each of these regions you'll also get to engage in a variety of fights and visit the shops to purchase various items. Eighty of the Invizimals in the game are fan favourites from previous Invizimals titles whilst the other seventy are new to the series. The process of catching them remains the same with the PSP camera picking up on specific colours and you using the trap (a black and white card you receive with the game) to lock them in position. Once you've trapped one you'll have to align several sets of spinning shapes before playing a mini-game to complete the capture process. This final step can be irritating however because whilst most of the mini-games are easy, some are rather frustrating and should you fail to complete the mini-game you'll lose the Invizimal.
The Invizimals battle system is definitely the highlight of the game. The battle system is a mix of a turn-based and real time hybrid. You are free to attack and defend at will but you have to keep your eye on your creature's health and stamina gauges. Stamina is depleted when you defend so you can't simply activate a defensive shield whenever you feel like it. Likewise your attacks also use stamina so you can't simply button mash your way to success. You'll also have access to what's known as vectors. These are essentially special attacks and healing items that you can bring into a battle when needed. The battles on the whole are enjoyable. There's just enough depth in the battle system to keep things interesting without ever becoming complex.
It's just as well the battles are enjoyable because there are times when you'll have to engage in battles just to level-up your Invizimals so that they can have a chance of winning some of the unavoidable battles. Had the battles felt like a chore, the compulsory level grinding would have been annoying. However, what is annoying is that there are various puzzles to be solved during the course of the game. Not all of these are compulsory but some are and you won't progress any further in the game until they are solved. It's not that the puzzles are difficult but with some of them I was failed and yet on reattempting them, and doing things in the same way, I completed them which was seemed rather strange.
Provided you own any PSP apart from the latest model you'll be able to enjoy the multiplayer side of the game if you can overcome the obstacles. Support for both Adhoc and Infrastructure multiplayer gaming has been included. Two players can engage in Adhoc battles and up to 16 players can compete online. The same complaint we had with Shadow Zone also holds true here however. For Adhoc play you need to find a friend who has the three requirements of a PSP, a copy of the game and a PSP camera and I suspect not many will be able to do this. Secondly the idea of Infrastructure play is praiseworthy but in practice you'll do well to find someone online which is a shame.
In terms of its presentation, The Lost Tribes is essentially the same as Shadow Zone. The battles and the puzzles make use of the augmented reality visuals (hence the need for the PSP camera). Seeing the Invizimals battle on your floor, table or desk is actually quite impressive by all accounts. The quality of the graphics isn't anything special however, but they get the job done. Once again there are a lot of FMV cut scenes in The Lost Tribes and again none of them are subtitled. These cut scenes deliver the storyline, basic tutorial messages and introductions to Invizimals that you won't have seen before. As a result of all of these cut scenes not being subtitled deaf gamers are going to miss out on practically all of the dialogue in the game, which is unacceptable. It also renders the game pretty much pointless unless you don't mind engaging in battles for which there is no context.
Invizimals: The Lost Tribes is very much a more-of-the-same sequel to Invizimals: Shadow Zone. In some respects that isn't a bad thing as the battle system is genuinely enjoyable. However, there are aspects of the game which could be better. Do we really need mini-games to complete the Invizimal capture process? Does the game have to include so many FMV cut scenes and puzzles that you can't skip? To top it off the support for deaf gamers is pretty much non-existent and as a result this is another Invizimals game that should be avoided unless you're prepared to be frustrated with how much content you won't have full access to.