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'Invizimals' brings fantasy creatures to your real world

With camera technology, "Invizimals" creates fantasy creatures in player's real surroundings.
With camera technology, "Invizimals" creates fantasy creatures in player's real surroundings.
  • "Invizimals" uses camera to project fantasy creatures into the players real world
  • Game's capture-collect is similar to "Pokemon," but methods are way different
  • "Invizimals" rated "E for Everyone" and available only for Sony PSP

(CNN) -- Gaming companies are looking to get people into the game more by virtually inserting the player into the action.

While the Move controller for the PlayStation 3 and the Kinect controller for the Xbox 360 have garnered all the headlines, Sony has developed a camera that attaches to its PSP-3000 handheld console in an attempt to bring real-world gaming to the small screen.

The first title to use the new PSP camera, "Invizimals," is an augmented reality game that has players using the camera to survey their real-world surroundings for invisible animals.

The Invizimals are then projected onto the screen and players are tasked with capturing and collecting the animals.

Sound a bit familiar? (*cough* Pokémon *cough*) The concept of catching fantastical creatures is not new, but how players catch them in "Invizimals" is.

"We've been working on augmented reality for quite a while," senior producer Petro Piasecki said. "One of the guys (on the development team) was driving through the streets of Barcelona [Spain] with no glasses and saw neon lights and thought they looked like ghosts of lights."

Piasecki said it took about 2-and-a-half years before the "ghosts of lights" idea became a viable game.

Advancements in technology helped get the game more in line with Sony's vision for a monster capture/battle game.

During that time, the technology to make the camera's picture clearer and help build the augmented reality got cheaper and ultimately more affordable for the consumer.

With the tech in hand, the team worked on developing a game that would appeal to gamers while highlighting the new abilities of the camera.

"We don't just cater to kids with magical creatures that are cartoonish with attacks and moves," game producer Emerson Escobar said. "There is also a little bit of strategy in the game and some multiplayer aspects where you can battle your friends, so it appeals to everybody."

During the game, players use the PSP and the camera to scan their surroundings.

Visual and audio alerts let gamers know when they are getting close to spotting an Invizimal. Once one is found, players have to capture it by stunning it with a slap, tickling it, feeding it, or even whistling a tune to calm it down.

All of these actions are done in augmented reality by the player's hand appearing on screen and performing the needed task to capture the Invizimal. There are more than 120 different creatures to collect.

Technically speaking, the camera reacts differently to different-colored objects and needs some choices to place the Invizimals in virtual reality.

During play, the game prompts you to point the camera at certain colors to trigger capture-moments, so make sure to play where you have lots of brightly colored objects to help.

"We really used [the PSP-3000] to its fullest capabilities," Escobar said. "We use the microphone. We use the thumb stick. We use motion sensing. We really wanted to create unique capture mechanics for each creature."

Rotating the thumb stick creates a hurricane attack. Blowing into the handheld console generates a blizzard attack. Piasecki said that, ultimately, the bottom line was it had to be freaking cool.

"If you can create a really compelling-looking creature with crazy attacks and uses all the input options of the PSP, we were able to create a lot of cool stuff," he said. "In a nutshell, this game is every 12-year-old boy's fantasy dream."

The new PSP camera also works as a still or video camera that can save pictures and videos to the PSP. The images and videos can be shared via an internet or Wi-Fi connection.

"People are already carrying around their PSP and the camera is just an added cool feature," Escobar said. "It really does produce some great quality images."

"Invizimals" isn't the only game ready to use the PSP camera. "EyePet," a game initially featured during demonstrations of the Move controller, is going to make an appearance on the PSP in early November, and other games using augmented reality are planned.

"Invizimals" is rated E for everyone and is only available for the Sony PSP handheld console.


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