Sackboy manages to get himself on all kinds of adventures, doesn’t he? Let’s take a look at one of his latest portable adventures in LittleBigPlanet Vita, shall we?
Sackboy finds himself in a land known as Carnivalia, this time, where he learns that all the fun, happiness and imagination has run dry. A man known as the Puppeteer is bringing Sackboys and girls to his circus tent and turning them into unhappy little abominations known as Hollows. Sackboy must now go forth on a grand journey to stop the Puppeteer and the Hollows, save Carnivalia, and all of LittleBigPlanet, helping everyone he meets along the way, in typical Sackboy fashion. The story is exactly as you would envision it, just like the other LittleBigPlanet games. There is a small twist near the end however. The story levels feel very familiar, and it kind of seems like a reboot of LBP2, however, which makes me a little uneasy.
LittleBigPlanet Vita plays as any other LBP game plays; a 2D platformer with three layers to switch back and forth between. Most obstacles involve running, jumping, grabbing, hitting buttons, jumping on baddies, and throwing switches. LBPV also uses the Grappling Hook, Grabinators, and Bounce Pads introduced in LBP2. In addition, it adds a lot of new stuff using the Vita’s specific features such as the front touchscreen and back touchpad, the camera, the microphone and the gyroscope. Sometimes you will have to tap blocks on either side of the touch screen to make them traversable platforms, sometimes you will need to slide something out of your way, and sometimes you’ll need to grab on to something and then tilt your Vita to move in the desired direction. There is even one instance where you shoot rockets that follow your finger on the touch screen. The game uses all the Vita’s features very well, and they never feel like an afterthought or gimmick. It’s very exhilarating to be running while also swiping obstacles out of your way. A number of mini games also require you turn the Vita on it’s side, making the screen long-ways.
User Generated Content and Online Community.
Instead of having the usual music and presentation sections (if you’ve played any LBP before, you already know that the music and presentation is spot on), I would instead like to talk about the user generated content and the online community, because this is a very huge part of LBPV. LBPV (like other LBPs) has the ability to create your own levels and share them with the rest of the world. What this means is that you essentially have an endless list of levels made not by game developers, but just by gamers, like you. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. You generally have to wade through piles of crap to find the good stuff, however if a level is good or unique enough, the devs will pick it to put on a special list that is updated pretty frequently, making it easier to find the good stuff. Unfortunately, this means that there are other great levels out there that some just haven’t seen, but in order to find them, you have to wade through the garbage, so to speak. The tools that LBPV gives you to create things with is absolutely staggering however, including all major facets of the LBP2 level creation as well as all the new touch, microphone, gyroscope, and camera features. The game does not give you as many goodies or materials to work with as in earlier LBPs, however. With the new touch controls, it is now possible to create levels using the touch screen and to resize and rotate objects with simple pinches and other finger gestures. This adds yet another level to the creative community. A quick word about the online play that needs to be stated here is that it is implemented very poorly. The lag often makes the game practically unplayable online, especially if you need to time anything precisely. On a very rare occasion, however you might get seamless online play with a friend, and when you do, it’s a wonderful thing. Please note that this review was written when LBPV was still new. I don’t know if they still update the online and whatnot.
It is incredibly easy to pour your life away into LittleBigPlanet before you even know what’s happening, and the Vita installment is no different. There are many Prize Bubble collectables for you to collect, mini games and an entire arcade with special games making the replayability very high. I’ve dumped about 50 hours into the game for the platinum trophy, although if you skip everything, you can bang out the story itself in about 2-3 hours, but you can always come back for collectables and whatnot, increasing the hours of play exponentially.
Why the Vita?
Believe it or not, LBP feels even more at home on the Vita, with the touch and other Vita specific controls wonderfully implemented. Not once did I think; “Oh, they needed to make use of a Vita feature somehow.” Everything just feels RIGHT on the Vita, and with the level select style of play, you can easily pick it up really quick for a level in between whatever it is you’re doing. LittleBigPlanet really feels like it was meant to be on a handheld, and I actually prefer this to the console versions. It’s a wonderful portable game, indeed.
The Bottom Lines
- Great gameplay, music, and presentation, typical of LBP.
- Awesome community and level design tools.
- Plenty of customization.
- Hours of collectables
- Very poor online play
- Predictable story and level design similar to LBP2
Final Score: 8/10
LittleBigPlanet is right where it belongs: in the palm of your hand. Feel free to change that to 9/10 if they ever improve the online play in a patch.