LittleBigPlanet (PlayStation Vita)
LittleBigPlanet (PlayStation Vita)
One of the big titles fairly early on in the PlayStation 3's life cycle was Media Molecule's LittleBigPlanet. Still popular on the home console, Sony takes Sackboy onto the small screen with the PlayStation Vita version of the game with satisfactory results.
While original developer Media Molecule didn't have so much as a hand in the development of the Vita LBP game (Tarsier Studios and Double Eleven took the reins on this project), most players probably wouldn't know it unless they were told -- and even then they may not believe it. LBP on Vita seem instantly very true to the home console originals, as both the gameplay that made LBP such a hit and narrator Stephen Fry make their respective returns.
After a brief and well-presented tutorial segment off the bat, players soon find Sackboy settled into his little home and ready for adventure. Players have the option of making/playing custom-created worlds; or play through the game's story mode (something that is suggested one do).
Story mode finds Sackboy in a world filled with gloom where a once-good puppeteer had gone bad. He now controls all of the world's sackboys as if they were nothing more than hollow shells on strings, following his orders without question. Entertaining and innovative, the game's story mode gives Sackboy seemingly limitless potential (a credit to the game's producers), allowing him to venture through a number of creatively-designed environments and meet charming NPCs. The only negative here is that it seems like there could have been even more. While the story mode is chock-full of fun distractions and mini-games. Many many of these mini-games, though, seem like no more than cop-out knock-offs of existing content from other developers and publishers (ie: a Tetris clone). But even with this side content, the story mode could have benefited from a few extra avenues for which the player to take.
LBP Vita's developers did well to take advantage of most every capability the PS Vita offers. Sure, the game utilizes many standard controls (analog stick for movement, etc.), but the player will also find himself using the Vita's front touchscreen and rear touchpad to move platforms, manipulate boxes, and so on. Other Vita-specific capabilities that LBP takes advantage of include sending/accepting challenges via the platform's "near" feature, the use of the camera to include real-life objects in the game, gyroscope-enabled minigames, and the like. Everything feels very natural to LBP gameplay, luckily, so those worried that these extra control schemes would seem gimmicky like they did in the PS Vita launch title Little Deviants shouldn't be concerned.
Central to the lasting appeal of the home console version of LittleBigPlanet is its level creator. The PS Vita edition does not disappoint in this regard -- a plus since the game's story mode seems a bit shorter than it probably should. Players will find a wealth of tools at their disposal (maybe a few too many). At its core, level creation is simple as players can use the Vita's touch controls to build nearly anything they can think of.
This fine-looking game also has well-supported online capabilities that should only become more and more robust as LBP players create more user-generated content and get farther and farther into the game. This user-created content, by the way, can be downloaded to allow for offline play of otherwise online items.
Visually, LittleBigPlanet on the Vita can hold its own just fine when compared to its PS3 brethren. Animations are smooth and there seems to be no slowdown whatsoever regardless of how much movement is on the screen. Texture quality is top-notch as well, providing for beautiful environments that captivate the player and draws him into Sackboy's world almost as soon as the game boots up. Everything is crisp, clean, and a quality that should prove as a model for other Vita developers to follow.
If Vita owners are looking for a near-perfect title to utilize all of the platform's capabilities; or non-Vita owners looking for a must-have title to justify a purchase of the handheld, LittleBigPlanet may be it. It's as close to perfect as a Vita game can be, save for a story mode that (for as good as it is) leaves the player feeling a little unsatisfied. Even with that as criticism, there's little bad that can be said about this game.
Final Game Guys grade: A-
(SCEA provided a copy of this game for review.)