LittleBigPlanet PS Vita Review

Title: LittleBigPlanet PlayStation Vita
Developer: Double Eleven Studios / Tarsier Studios
Game Type: PlayStation Vita
Download: 1.6 GB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download | Retail
EU Availability: Digital Download | Retail

 

This review is dedicated to hugeberry, whom has opted to keep their real name hidden.

Games aimed towards family experiences or the younger audiences is something that many people do not often associate with Sony systems anymore.  Much of the time, when you think about family games or cutesy games for people of all ages, you think about Nintendo, as opposed to Microsoft and Sony.  This is definitely not to say Sony doesn’t have any games like that, but the majority of the time, you do not think of Sony when you think about those kind of games.  That is, unless you are Media Molecule.

Way back in 2007, Media Molecule, now owned by Sony, made an endeavor to make a new PlayStation mascot.  They aimed at one that could draw in children and adults alike, bringing a family-oriented game to Sony’s game consoles.  They strived and made something that dawned into a franchise of side-scrolling, play-and-create platforming franchise that has seen five games in the past seven years and continues to gain popularity.  That series is called LittleBigPlanet.

LittleBigPlanet was started on the PlayStation 3.  After two very successful games, the franchise moved onto the PlayStation Portable and, eventually, the PlayStation Vita.  In fact, the game on the PlayStation Vita, named and called either LittleBigPlanet or LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, has captured the hearts of many Vita gamers and continues to do so with regular content that it receives, even to this day.  This is our official review of LittleBigPlanet for the PlayStation Vita.

Story

The storyline of LittleBigPlanet follows the adventures of a creature known as Sackboy (also known as Sackgirl).  Sackboy is a creation that looks like a woven plush toy in a humanoid figure.  Sackboy is a resident of a world called LittleBigPlanet whom travels to create and build things to make the world a better place.  They travel around the world in the games of the series, yet the story of LittleBigPlanet for PlayStation Vita does not actually take place there, but in another world.

In space near LittleBigPlanet is a planet known as Carnivalia.  This planet has five different worlds which do different things for the planet and for themselves.  Sackboy is brought to this world, as The Puppeteer, a once kind entertainer, has returned to the planet and is wreaking havoc.  He has unleashed monsters known as Hollows and is capturing and hurting the residents of each world.  With Creators in each world at his side, Sackboy sets out to put an end to the madness and repel the Hollows from Carnivalia.

The storyline follows each of the five worlds and within each is a unique Creator that leads Sackboy through it.  Each of these has their own backstory, from Colonel Flounder to the created-from-unwanted-things Marianne Noisette.  You will learn much about each of them and help them along the way, as you travel through these worlds, towards ridding them of the Hollows and stopping the Puppeteer.  Each world has a cute backstory and it stays interesting throughout.

Gameplay

LittleBigPlanet plays as a side-scrolling platformer.  As such, you will be traversing worlds in the form of Stages that you will walk or run across, jumping from platform to platform, solving puzzles, fighting enemies, and collecting items along the way.  It has all the basics of a side-scrolling platformer, while stressing less on combat and more on actual item collection and puzzle-solving.  Think of it like Super Mario Bros without the power-ups and more to collect.

Although it plays like a 2D Side-Scroller, LittleBigPlanet has more to it than that.  Not only are you going from side to side, but there is depth and 3D involved in it.  In many sections of the stages you will be traversing, there will be two different planes to traverse.  There will be one close to the camera and one further away.  At certain points, you will be able to freely move back and forth between these two planes, which will be necessary for solving puzzles and progressing through the stage.

Aside from the extra plane, there are also movable objects, both in a single plane and in both.  Moving these objects will be unique and necessary for getting to the next area.  Some objects can be pushed or moved by grabbing them or swinging on them.  Others, you may need to use the touch screen or Rear Touch Pad to move.  The game introduces the mechanics, one by one, and you will learn them as more difficult puzzles requiring those mechanics come about in the game.

Items and Enemies are also a unique aspect of this game.  Collectable items appear as bubbles that pop when you touch them.  Bubbles come in different sizes and have items within them that you can collect to add to your inventory.  You obtain stickers, decorations, and costumes you can use to either solve puzzles in the game or decorate your Sackboy/Sackgirl for playing within the game.  This is done with the Customization menu that you can bring up at any time, during gameplay.  These items are also added up when you get a score upon finding the Finish Point of each stage and move onto the next.

Enemies also have bubbles to represent their health.  Pop the bubble and the enemy will be defeated.  Some enemies don’t actually need to be defeated, but traversed around.  Others, however, are electrified or have spikes that will kill Sackboy upon touched.  It takes strategy and thinking to figure out how to jump and hit their bubble but not the rest of them.  This is a key thing to learn for when each Boss Battle comes.

You can replay stages as many times as you want from your own home base.  This home base can be decorated and is also your way to access both the Story levels, Community Levels, and Your Levels.  There is a pretty large amount of depth to LittleBigPlanet and the game truly begins when the Story ends.  There is a huge online aspect to it and a lot of content to see.  The Community Levels are an excellent showing of that.  They are a collection of every user-created levels made of any material found in the game and uploaded online for anyone to search for, download, and play through.

Community Levels are made through My Levels.  When you create a level, you can set everything and create a level based on just about anything.  Aside from just materials you find in the game, you can import pictures of anything and put those in the game.  Want a house wall with your portrait?  Take a snapshot of yourself and slap it onto the wall however you want.  It’s really quite deep.  Many users have created levels based on other video games or even have games you can play in them.  Yes.  There are even levels that look as if you’re playing Super Mario Bros.

LittleBigPlanet is a truly huge game with a lot of content.  While that Story Mode may only take you 5-8 hours to go through on your first try, Community Levels can keep you going for endless hours.  More creations are added every day, and some are quite extensive.  It’s gotten to the point where you could just search for your favorite game, and there’s probably a Community Level for it.  Tying that with the fact that it is still getting official DLC Costumes and Levels regularly, it will be a long time before this game’s content support runs dry.

Controls

Controlling LittleBigPlanet is simple, yet it’s not.  There are very simple controls involved with the game, but there are a lot of different things to do as you play.  Different controls do different things, and you will be using much more than just the buttons on the system to play the game.  It uses most of the features of the PlayStation Vita.  It uses almost as many features as Media Molecule’s latest creation, Tearaway, which we reviewed in recent weeks.

Controlling Sackboy is relatively easy.  You will be using the Left Analog Stick to move them around on the stages, as well as moving between the two plans in each stage.  Moving from platform to platform is done with the X and R buttons.  The X Button lets you jump while the R button allows you to grab onto certain objects, whether it is a bar you must swing from, a level to pull, or a Box to push in order to be able to reach the next platform.  The Square Button opens the menu, where you access stickers and costumes.

The rest of the controls, however, are touch-based.  There are many objects that must be moves with either the touch screen or the rear touch panel.  These are also labeled and colored, so as not to confuse you.  Blue objects require touch screen input, whether it is tapping them, spinning them, or dragging them to an appropriate location.  Green objects are for the rear touch panel, and their use is primarily for pushing objects from the rear plane to the front plane.

The game isn’t terribly hard to control, but at first glance, it can be a little confusing.  If you’re not a fan of using a touch screen, you may not love some of the game’s forced touch controls, though they do work well.

Presentation

Visually, the game looks very impressive.  You’ll be looking for awhile if you are looking for any jagged edges in the character models.  Not to say they are not there, but the visuals are polished enough that they’re hard to see.  How polished are they?  We showed screenshots of the PlayStation Vita game to a few gamers who had never heard of the franchise.  They thought they were PS3 screenshots and thought they looked pretty good.  While they are no analyzers, the game showcases a very smooth visual picture.

As far as gameplay goes, it runs very smooth and we found very little slowdown.  There have been some complaints about online lagging, though we never noticed much of that when we went online.  Load Times are always an issue as well.  When you are loading each stage, the game takes about 20 seconds or so to load.  While those are no walk-in-the-park load times, they’re not awful.  Those of you who are even the slightest bit patient won’t have too many problems with the load times.  After it’s loaded, it runs wonderfully.

Overall

LittleBigPlanet makes it’s PS Vita debut with a bang, offering more content than even the PS3 games have offered.  It is cute, fun, and has a lot of depth.  While the community may be smaller than its PS3 counterparts, the sharing of DLC with the PS3 version brings this game regular content that will keep anyone busy for hours on end.

The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates LittleBigPlanet PS Vita a 8.5/10.

 

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