Review: LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
GAME NAME: LittleBigPlanet Vita
DEVELOPER(S): Double Eleven, Tarsier Studios, Xdev
PUBLISHER(S): Sony Computer Entertainment
PLATFORM(S): PS Vita
RELEASE DATE(S): 20 September 2012
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is the latest outing for "Sackboy" and his ragtag bunch of crazy characters. It's the ultimate LittleBigPlanet experience and a very worthy addition to the stable of games available for the PS Vita. A game like this was sorely needed at the launch of the handheld and although it's a little late, in this case late is much much better than never. This is all the console experience of LittleBigPlanet only portable, which is truly amazing. This is the kind of game we were promised when the Vita was first unveiled and this is the type of experience Sony needs to keep delivering for it.
By now I assume most people would be familiar with the format and premise of LittleBigPlanet, but as a quick refresher here goes. You play as Sackboy through a series of 2D levels, collecting point bubbles and stickers. The levels have three levels of depth which you move between by pushing up or down on the left analogue stick. Standard platformer fare really. Through five worlds and over 40 levels you guide Sackboy, collecting prize bubbles and saving the citizens of Craftworld from the evil puppeteer. The story boils to some fun silliness and not much more, but that doesn't matter as the game itself is so fun. Jumping, grabbing, swinging with your grappling hook and avoiding death at every turn.
This is where you should begin to truly come to grips with the controls and mechanics of the game. Not only that but the dozens or prize bubbles you'll collect contain what you'll need later on when creating you own levels. But more on that later. In the story mode, you are able to with up to three friends via Wi-Fi, amazingly no Ad-hoc multiplayer is included which seems to be a real shame and a massive oversight. Playing via Wi-Fi works brilliantly however and you'll never be short of multiplayer partners. Simply select the "dive in" option and you'll join in on a random game currently in progress. It's quick, simple and reliable. Oh it's also lots of fun. Playing solo is great but playing with others increases the fun exponentially and lets you access those crafty multiplayer only areas in many of the levels.
As LittleBigPlanet is now on the Vita touch controls have been added and for the most part they work well, however there are times, many of them to be frank, when the touch controls just don't feel right or feel unresponsive. This may be due to LittleBigPlanet always playing by its own rules. When Sackboy jumps he is a little floaty and doesn't feel right at first, but once you are in LittleBigPlanet mode you get the feel for it and it just works. Same goes for the motion controls. My one problem is that you shouldn't have to adjust to a game's mechanics to feel comfortable, it should be that way from the beginning. Once you've played again for a few minutes you get back into the swing, it's just the initial awkwardness every time that throws you off a little.
Aside from the story mode there is the incredibly complex and growing ever more so "Create" mode. This is where the longevity of LittleBigPlanet reaches into the stratosphere. In the first game you could create levels and in the sequel you could create characters and games but now in LittleBigPlanet PS Vita it's been taken to another level. The newest gadget called "The Memorizer" allows you to save progress between levels. That's right, stories can continue across levels, stats and abilities can carry on across levels. This has been best displayed in a user-generated level that recreates Final Fantasy VII. It has to be seen to be believed, and this is only the beginning of the content that's being created. Once the community truly finds their footing with the new tools, expect almost endless levels and games to play around in.
There is a sixth world included in story mode but it has nothing to do with Sackboy or the Craftworld. Instead these are mini games created from the tools included in the create mode. They are reminiscent of mobile games and recreate space shooters puzzle games and the like. It will essentially enable the PS Vita to have unlimited free games so long as people keep making them.
This brings us squarely to my one major problem with LittleBigPlanet. Creating levels and games is incredibly complex and time-consuming. Without investing hours upon hours you will likely never make the amazing creations regularly found in-game. It can be overwhelming when you begin and after your first, second and twentieth attempts are still rubbish you may, like me give up on being a creator and instead focus on enjoying what some other really talented people have made just for you.
The PS Vita version of LittleBigPlanet is the ultimate and definitive version. Fans of the series should definitely give it a look and Vita owners in general would be wise to pick this one up. It will provide hours and hours of platforming fun by yourself or with friends and those talented enough or with enough perseverance will be rewarded with a deep and engaging game creation experience. It really is a game for everybody and a great addition to the LittleBigPlanet franchise.