Second look: LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
- — 21 August, 2012 22:00
|Name||3D puzzle/platformer: LittleBigPlanet PS Vita|
|Summary:||Great game mechanics and loads of customisation.|
|Games Info:||Developer: Double Eleven, Tarsier Studios; Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Test Platform:||PS Vita|
The best word I can think of to describe the LittleBigPlanet franchise is 'charming'. Everything about the game is infused with whimsy and silliness. It might be designed for kids, but it's gained quite a following among the young-at-heart, too, and playing co-op with a friend on the couch has always been loads of fun.
LittleBigPlanet's strengths lie in two places - customisablility and fantastic game mechanics. LittleBigPlanet PS Vita hasn't done anything remarkably new, given what we've seen so far, but it's still shaping up to be a really good Vita title.
You play this 3D sidescroller as Sackboy, a figure who is initially made out of burlap with buttons for eyes and a zip down the middle, and customise him as you venture through various creative, artsy worlds. You can change almost everything about him - his clothes, his hair, the material he's made from - as you continue on your quest.
But you can customise more than that. Along the way you pick up images called stickers, which you can spam all over the environment you inhabit - you could choose to cover the room in cats. In this version of the game, you can also quickly and easily take pictures with your Vita's camera, which opens up boundless possibilities in terms of creating your own environment. Take a picture of your dog, and you can stick it to the wall of your 'pod' to make it your own.
While LittleBigPlanet PS Vita will also include a level creation and customisation system, we didn't get to play around with it in this build of the game. However, if the ability to make stickers with your Vita's camera carries through into the level creator, it would add an extra personal touch for those who like to spend their time modding away. We know the level creator is already comprehensive: the game's developers, Tarsier Studios and Double Eleven, have included a touch-based mini-game called Tapling, which was made using the level creator. (For the record, Tapling gets almost Super Meat Boy-difficult and made me incredibly frustrated.) There are several other mini-games the company has created, but they weren't unlockable in our preview code.
The game, which is narrated by the legendary Stephen Fry, breaks the fourth wall in order to properly teach you how to play it. More often than not, Fry isn't speaking to Sackboy - he's speaking directly to you, the player.
In the first few levels of the Vita version, Sackboy is making his way through a carnival-themed environment. There are a couple of tutorial-like levels, but if you're familiar with the PlayStation 3 versions of LittleBigPlanet, paying attention is optional. The controls feel exactly the same, right down to the way you can move the Vita around to bob Sackboy's head. Even if you haven't played before, you'll be zipping around in no time - the controls are easy to learn but sometimes tough to master.
What's remarkable about LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is the fact that it actually looks better on the handheld than it does on your TV screen. Graphics and animations have been carefully crafted and the art is as pretty as ever.
The one concern I have about the Vita edition of LittleBigPlanet is the idea that it might be too similar to previous games. The developers seem to be saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it", and that's understandable given the franchise's success. I just hope there are some exciting new levels and mechanics to play with when the full game releases in September.