Review: LittleBigPlanet for PS Vita
Portable versions of console games are not usually known for being awesome, but LittleBigPlanet is the only must-buy title for Vita, and the best game in the series to date.
Siobhan Keogh | Tuesday, September 25 2012
Product type: Side-scrolling platformer/puzzler
Platform: PS Vita
Test Platform: PS Vita
Developer: Tarsier Studios, Double Eleven; Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
The most fun you can have with a burlap sack.
Need a good reason to buy a Vita? LittleBigPlanet is it.
No, really. While the LittleBigPlanet franchise is popular with both casual and hardcore gamers alike, there are still those that would shun Sackboy in favour of Nathan Drake. But given the choice between buying Uncharted: Golden Abyss and LBP? I'd pick the latter, any day of the week.
LittleBigPlanet for Vita sums up everything the franchise has always been about. It's full of creative, out-of-the-box ideas and silly adventures. As per usual, you play as a little creature made of burlap called Sackboy, and make your way through a side-scrolling platformer while collecting points and prizes. In the Vita game, a man called the 'puppeteer' is wreaking havoc on LittleBigPlanet, and it's Sackboy's job to find and defeat him.
A charming and hilarious Stephen Fry as the narrator guides Sackboy through the story, alongside a funny-looking cast of characters who help Sackboy through each of the five major sections of the game.
Each of the sections has its own design and feel, and is made up of several different levels and side missions. One section of the game consists of a series of carnival-themed levels, for instance, while another is based in a spooky mansion - and it surprisingly lives up to its name. All of the levels are incredibly detailed and carefully designed so that you can whiz on through, barely stopping for breath, or take your time exploring every little corner - if you can figure out how to get to those corners. Most levels are relatively short and neatly packaged so you could play while waiting for your doctor's appointment or sitting on the bus.
The points you rack up don't really matter, except that they unlock some extra stuff at the end of the level if you do well. You can also compete with your friends to see who scores highest on a level.
One of the most remarkable things about LittleBigPlanet for Vita's design is the fact that it actually looks better on the Vita than LittleBigPlanet 2 looks on the PS3. Granted, the designers had a smaller screen to work with, but it's still quite a feat. The animations are great, and there are no jagged edges.
When I previewed this game I complained a fair bit about the use of touch in this game - I'd like to take most of what I said back, having now played through the whole game.
Touch-based controls have ruined many a Vita title, but not this time. There are still parts of the game where you're forced to break rhythm to use touch controls, and that's a disappointment, but there are many, many places where touch is used well. And there are places where touch is integrated into your rhythm. For example, if you're running at high speed to jump platforms before the timer runs out and they disappear, you might have to also press touch buttons along the way, without slowing down.
Personally, I found LittleBigPlanet for Vita a lot easier than either LittleBigPlanet or LittleBigPlanet 2, and also a little shorter. Unless you're a real completionist, it'll probably only take a handful of hours to play through.
LittleBigPlanet isn't just about the campaign, though - it's also about creating your own games and levels. The level creator is more in-depth than ever, and touch controls truly enhance the ability to create stuff here. Whereas before you would have to slowly colour the background with thumbsticks, now you can just touch the screen and drag your finger around to quickly change the environment to your liking.
People have created some great levels, too - like a detailed tribute to Super Mario Bros where Sackboy runs around a couple of levels meticulously copied from the retro Nintendo game. Checking out all the user-designed games gives the game a bit more replayability.
Portable versions of console games are not usually known for being awesome, but LittleBigPlanet is the only must-buy title for Vita, and the best game in the series to date. It's well thought-out, loads of fun, and surprisingly fresh.
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