Ever since the debut of Pokemon, young gamers have dreamed of the day when they would be able to go out into the world and hunt for little creatures of their own. And while genetic engineering has yet to extend to the field of pocket monsters, Sony’s newest PSP title should help to satisfy this lust for adventure.
Invizimals uses the PSP Camera to generate seemingly invisible monsters into the real world. Players simply attach the camera and use it to look around their bedrooms, their homes, their local neighbourhood or any environment imaginable to search for these little critters, before laying down the star-shaped plastic Trap panel to capture the new beast.
“Invizimals is a completely unique game, that uses augmented reality to hunt down monsters, trap them and then battle them,” says product manager Claire Backhouse.
“Invizimals uses all elements of PSP technology from capturing monsters in the real world with the camera to blowing on the microphone to create a snowstorm whilst battling.
“All of these unique and exciting elements come together to give you an active, totally unique game, making Invizimals the must-have kids game for Christmas.”
Gamers can play through an Adventure mode on their own, in which they help to defeat the evil Axel Kaminsky. Alternatively, they can hunt, battle and trade Invizimals with their friends.
The appeal of monster hunting games is obvious given the success of previous titles in the genre, but Sony is keen to highlight other selling points. For example, since the gameplay requires kids to actively search the area for new monsters, the company is hoping parents will approve of Invizimals.
“Monster battling and swapping games have had much success as a genre in the past,” Backhouse says.
“This game offers all this and something more, by now taking creature hunting into the real world.
“In research, kids were engaged and loved the idea of hunting around the house to find the monsters. Parents saw the game as active, healthy and fun. We think the very nature of this game will appeal to kids everywhere as it is a mixture of treasure hunting and traditional monster battling games.”
There will be multiple Invizimals SKUs available at launch. The standard version of the game will include both the PSP Camera and the Trap, but solus versions will also be available for those who already own the peripheral. Finally, non-PSP owners will be able to buy a Black PSP bundle with a copy of the game included.
2009 has been a significant year for the PSP, with Sony orchestrating a renewed marketing drive throughout the summer and into the upcoming holiday trading period – not to mention the attention garnered by the arrival of the PSPgo.
As a result, Invizimals is well placed to rack up strong sales as the gifting season approaches, but Sony is keen to go the extra mile.
“Invizimals is an important title to us for PSP this year and a key focus for us in the lead up to Christmas, which can be seen in the strength of our marketing support for the title,” says Backhouse.
The publisher has prepared an extensive campaign focused on kids and families. The push begins in November with 30-second TV spots across a variety of mainstream channels. These will also run on Nickelodeon and Disney XD in order to target kids and build hype around the title.
“With Disney XD and Nickelodeon, we have a heavy online campaign – including mini sites on each of these running until the end of the year,” explains Backhouse.
“Kids will be able to engage with the brand, monster hunt, sign up and watch reviews and trailers of Invizimals online – all in a safe environment that parents feel comfortable with.
“I really believe the depth of this marketing campaign will ensure that Invizimals is the talk of the school yard and the most requested Christmas PSP game this year.”
Following all of this, December will see advertorials in children’s press, including titles such as Marvel Heroes, Spectacular Spiderman, Scooby-Doo, Ben 10 and Toxic.
Additionally, Sony will be sponsoring Ben 10 on Cartoon Network for the six weeks leading up to Christmas.