LittleBigPlanet For PlayStation Vita Review
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita
Sackboy returns in his littlest-big-adventure yet, with LittleBigPlanet for PlayStation Vita! This time, he’s heading off to the land of Carnivalia, where its inhabitants have been changed to creepy Hollows by the evil Puppeteer. Fortunately for Sackboy, he’s got an exciting new array of tools in his Popit thanks to the touchy-feely control functions of the PlayStation Vita! Developed by Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios under the watchful eyes of Media Molecule, Sackboy makes a big splash of a debut on the next-gen handheld.
LittleBigPlanet Vita is a platform puzzler starring Sackboy, the little brown ragdoll from the previous games. LBPV contains many of the same style puzzles and features that have been present in earlier titles in the series, while leveraging the front and rear touchpads present on the PS Vita to break the fourth wall and bring some fresh elements to the game. These touch-based puzzles allow you to manipulate objects in the LBP world to create bridges, throw switches, and move platforms – among other things. One of the more creative ways that LBPV uses the touchscreens is a puzzle involving stacks of blocks that must be pushed in and out of the foreground to create a path for Sackboy to negotiate. Furthermore, the touchscreen can be used to target enemies when using weapons such as the rocket pack (called the Odd Rocket) by using your finger to guide the rocket to the target.
Also added to the single player mode are side areas that come in the form of mini-games such as a Sackboy-style Whack-a-Mole game where you must tap on the Sackboys as they pop out of the ground; or “Flower Pop,” a mini game where you must match the different types of flowers to make them pop before the flowers reach the bottom of the screen, à la Bust-a-Move. The mini-game fun also extends into the Arcade, where additional distractions can be found if you need to take a break from all that adventuring. Both the side areas and the Arcade games can be unlocked by locating keys strewn throughout the various levels. Many of these games require you to turn the Vita on its side to play, which feels a bit unwieldy, especially if you’re using a Power Grip attachment or have the charger cable plugged in; however, in many instances I found that you just need to turn it on its side long enough for the game to detect and start, and then you can play the mini games while holding it normally if so desired.
Co-operative play is also not only allowed, but encouraged, as some areas can only be accessed with two players in order to get 100% completion and find all of the collectible stickers and stamps. This can be done over the PSN as long as you have an online pass, either by purchasing the game new or buying a pass online separately. If you want to play a game co-operatively, all you need to do is follow the prompt to do so when you select a level. Competitive play can also be found in some of the side levels as well.
The SixAxis controls on the Vita are also used, albeit not as prominently in the game. During the single-player mode you can use the SixAxis controls to manipulate Sackboy’s head, while in the mini-games they aren’t often used for much more than detecting when your Vita is turned on its side. SixAxis function does work well for the most part, with the exception that there is no way to calibrate the game for the position that you’re sitting in, so if you’re lying on the bed or couch with the Vita held vertically, Sackboy seems to have his head pointing at the floor looking rather sullen. While not game-breaking, it does make Sackboy look a bit depressing, so I painted him up to look emo and decided that it was just his ‘thing.’
Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios have really done their homework in recreating the experience that you’d find in previous iterations of LittleBigPlanet, right down to the absolutely brilliant level design and addicting gameplay. Each level contains a theme unique to their respective zones and comes with all of the puzzles, hidden collectibles, and challenges to satisfy just about any gamer’s appetite for a challenge without becoming frustrating.
The integration of the touch features really adds a lot of depth to how you play LBP Vita over its predecessors to give you something shiny and new, yet familiar. On occasion the game does get significantly more challenging, sometimes requiring you to manipulate the touchscreen, buttons, and analog controls in a relatively quick fashion, creating some unwanted pops (for those of you not familiar with the franchise, Sackboys don’t die, they explode), but I’ve found that the difficulty spikes are rather minor and a problem area is cleared within a couple of tries. For instance, there is an area where you need to use the front touchpad to rotate a lever that pushes out a series of two rows of blocks, and then get Sackboy to traverse them, jumping up to a second level of the same types of blocks, all before they pop back into the wall. Moving your fingers across the screen, then quickly back to the controls to make it through before the trap springs might end direly for our little knitted hero if you have a poorly-timed step. After a couple of ‘practice runs,’ I finally found my footing and Sackboy was able to again make his way with only a scorched ego and a few hundred points of my score lost.
The world of LittleBigPlanet Vita looks simply gorgeous as well. It seems that artists behind creating the world of Carnivalia spared no color on the palette (and quite possibly even found some undiscovered ones) as they bring alive the entire world. Bright reds and oranges, pinks, blues, yellows and everything in between dot just about each and every landscape. Even the rocky, dark subterranean and steely television levels come alive with eye-popping wonder. The inhabitants too are creatively designed to match the various themes found in LBP Vita with the exception of the Hollows, whose blank faces and pale designs contrast sharply in comparison to their cheery counterparts. The only complaint from a graphical standpoint is that when moving from background to foreground, or vice versa, Sackboy has a tendency to go through objects instead of around them. Another issue is with load times as the levels can take up to 20 seconds from the world map to level start. While these are minor flaws that don’t break the gameplay, they do detract from the overall quality of the game.
The creative wizards at Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios did a phenomenal job of the music in LBP Vita. The music is quite enjoyable, with very few instances of repetition. Each level essentially has its own unique tune which does a great job of adding to the ambience of the game. Some of the most enjoyable melodies can be found in the Jackpot City levels where the overall theme is the 1980s. Aside from the tongue-in-cheek selection of environmental objects (VCR tapes, floppy disks, etc.), the levels feature a number of tunes that were obviously inspired by the electronic soundtrack music that you’d find in ‘80s TV shows like Airwolf, or just about any cheesy ‘80s movie (ahh… Revenge of the Nerds…).
While many gamers will have tons of fun playing the game itself and the numerous mini-games that come with it, no LittleBigPlanet title would be complete without being able to create your own custom levels and share them with the community at large! The level editor works similarly to those found in LBP 1 and 2, with the addition of touch controls to make life a little simpler when it comes to creating, moving, and deleting objects. For the uninitiated, there are a vast number of tutorials available to you in the game that will walk you through all of the basics of creating a level. Once you’ve created your masterpiece, you can go out onto your saved levels and simply tap and hold to either play or publish it for the whole world to see. Likewise, going to the Community globe will allow you to check out neat levels that others have uploaded, and you can download them to play.
One other thing of note: If you happen to have purchased costumes for your Sackboy in other LBP games, they’ll also be available to download to your PS Vita to use in LBP Vita with the cross-buy feature.
Overall, LittleBigPlanet for PlayStation Vita brings all of the enjoyment and fun of the console versions to the handheld. I was at first apprehensive of a new developer (or two) working on the game instead of Media Molecule, but I’m happy to report that the boys and girls at Double Eleven and Tarsier have done them proud. Well, now that I’ve said my piece, I’ve got a Carnivalia to save!
LittleBigPlanet Vita receives a 4.0/5.0.
About This Post