Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom review for PS3

Platform: PS3
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: XDev/Novarama/Magenta Software
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: E10+

I can’t say I fully understand why Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom exists. After all, to date, Invizimals has exclusively been the province of Sony handhelds, largely because the series has been tied in so heavily with Augmented Reality tech — which, PlayStation Eye notwithstanding, isn’t exactly the first thing you think of when you think PS3. In fact, AR doesn’t even have anything to do with The Lost Kingdom; this is just a straight-up 3D platformer that happens to use characters from the series. And it’s not as if the game’s existence is an example of Sony neglecting the Vita: The Lost Kingdom was released the same day as Invizimals: The Alliance came out on said handheld.

However, even if I’m baffled by the game’s existence, I can’t say that I’m not glad for it — since, all in all, it’s a perfectly fine platformer.

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Not a great one, of course. In the big, kiddie-oriented-3D-platformer scheme of things, I’d probably rank it somewhere around the nexus of Knack (what with all the bright colours and whatnot) and the Ben 10: Omniverse series (because of all the people using monsters to fight for them). Which is to say, it’s got enough adventure that it should keep little ones interested, but it’s not so challenging that they’ll want to throw their controllers away in frustration. Which is to also say, if you’re not a kid and/or gaming with one, you might not find it to be much of a challenge.

Or, at least not much of a challenge for the most part. The game has some weird hit detection things going on when it comes to exploding objects, since you can be standing nowhere near one of them — or even near the ensuing shrapnel — but still find your health bar takes a hit when they explode. (I’ll note as well that your enemies won’t suffer the same damage.) Likewise, the camera is a bit finicky, which led to several instances of me walking to my death off a ledge whose existence had been hitherto unknown.

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Overall, though, those are just minor quibbles. You have more than ample health, and one or two exploding barrels isn’t going to kill you before you find one of the many, many health-replenishing plants scattered all over the place. As for the ledge issue, it’s an annoyance, but The Lost Kingdom features lots and lots of checkpoints, so it doesn’t impact things too severely.

Which means that the biggest problem with the game might be that the characters you control are insanely overpowered compared to the rest of the world — and seeing as we’re talking about a platformer aimed at kids, that’s hardly a crime. (And to be honest, as an adult who likes being insanely overpowered in games, I can’t say I mind all that much either.) The controls are simple and straightforward, and the world is laid out in a pretty straightforward manner. Even the usual complaints don’t apply here: the QTEs are over fast enough that it never feels like you’re just pressing buttons to advance pre-rendered cinematics, and when you need to swim it feels shockingly fast and fluid, rather than the typical slog.

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Obviously, we’re not talking the game clearing some extraordinarily high bar here. Invizimals: The Lost Kingdom is just a solidly competent 3D platformer that doesn’t aspire to be a lot more than it is. But considering the drek that sometimes gets pawned off on kids under the guise of My First Platformer, “solidly competent” is actually pretty high praise. It may not win many awards — or even make people forget about Invizimals’ handheld roots, for that matter — but I’ve played enough of the likes of Ben 10 and Spongebob Squarepants to know that this is far, far better than its competition.

Grade: B