For those of you who don’t know, let’s get the biggest elephant out of the room – what the heck is LittleBigPlanet? It might look like a random jumble of three words from the Oxford dictionary, but LBP is actually one of the core, exclusive series SONY has going for its PlayStation systems. Starting on the PlayStation 3 and initially developed by Media Molecule, LittleBigPlanet was something fresh, bringing a new idea to the table, one which many others have tried to copy; and that’s the “Play, Create, Share” premise. The idea is simple, but has been at the heart of every installment in the series. First you’ve got a story to play through (single player or multi-player), all of which has been created using the same tools given to you, then you can try out making levels for yourself, and when they’re good enough, you can share them with the rest of the world to play and enjoy. That premise hasn’t changed, and it doesn’t need to. It worked in the first LBP; it works in LBP2 and even in the LittleBigPlanet Karting spin-off. What you might be wondering though, is if those were all on the PS3, how will it work on Vita? Simply put – just as good if not better. Sackboy/Sackgirl (that’s the character you control depending on their gender), feels like he/she was stitched specifically for SONY’s handheld, and the game makes itself right at home on the Vita.
Your pod remains largely the same
So, first you’ve got the story to play through, again this can be done with up to four players. This time around it has been created by Tarsier Studios and Double Eleven instead of Sack’s (which we’ll call them for the sake of not having to mention switching genders) home studio – Media Molecule – but that makes it no less awesome. The story takes place in Carnivalia; a once wonderful, charming place full of laughter, but one day The Puppeteer – the chap who was providing the entertainment lost his touch, he was booed and egged off stage and so he decides to ruin Carnivalia for all those that hurt him. Story objective: destroy The Puppeteer (in the cutest, most PEGI 7 fashion possible.) As ever in the series, the story is none too interesting and you’ll see every twist coming, but that’s fine because it still takes you to colorful environments and opens up to great game-play.
Stephen Fry is still here for the tutorials
To defeat The Puppeteer, you’ll side scroll your way through plenty of story levels, none of which are ever grey or dull, but all have a certain element of fun about them. Whether you’re plat-forming like you would on the PS3, or using one of the Vita’s unique functions, you’ve always got something to enjoy. Speaking of the Vita – what is it that sets it apart from its PS3 sisters? Many things; remember that time on LittleBigPlanet 2 when you wanted to take a photo of yourself and sticker it all over the world, but you couldn’t because you didn’t have a PlayStation Eye? Skadoosh! Problem solved – the Vita has two cameras meaning that not only can you take photos of anything, anywhere; but you can also implement them into your game. Perhaps your boss has been getting on your nerves lately – we’ll sort that out with the power of LBP Vita!
Step 1: Take a photo of your boss with either of the Vita’s cameras
Step 2: Head into Create mode
Step 3: Make a moving enemy
Step 4: Slap your boss’ photo on the enemy
Step 5: Publish your level
Everyone can now kill your boss, revenge is sweet! LittleBigPlanet PS Vita – out now on PlayStation Vita
He/she might not oblige but the option’s there if you wish to do so! The game also makes great use of Vita’s tilt controls (motion sensor) with certain puzzles, the microphone (if you choose to use it in Create mode), but most importantly, the touchscreen and the rear touch panel. These two beasts are what really keeps the game flowing. It might be hard to get to grips with at first, but once you get the hang of it, flinging Sack into the air with your finger, guiding a bomb through the level, swiping your fingers across a piano to play “Do, Re, Mi” or bringing out ledges with the rear touch panel just works, even if it might be hard to adjust to the momentum at first.
The Arcade is what really sets the Vita’s version apart
Apart from the use of Vita’s own controls, it’s hard to think of too many differences, perhaps with the exception of “The Arcade” – a series of mini-games which would do well on the iPhone, stuffing enough content and challenge into them to have you playing them for an age. This gives the Vita version of LBP the edge. However, all is not perfect – no game ever is – but there are still a few niggles which the “port” – a word which we don’t want to use under such circumstances, considering it’s more than capable on its own – has carried over from the PlayStation 3. Long loading times have always been an issue in the series, especially when booting up community levels, and there’s no change here. What’s also the same is the core game-play – a great thing for people like me who enjoy the way Sack is controlled, but if you never liked LBP on the PS3 because of the precision of your control over Sack, the Vita version isn’t going to change your mind.
The level designs are as witty and charming as ever
Once you look past these niggles though, it’s easy to see why the Vita version of LittleBigPlanet could be better than the rest – it’s hard to think of anything that the PS3 versions have done better or have more of, apart from the amount of community levels (for better or for worse). LBP Vita doesn’t create any problems of its own; it just carries a few over from the PlayStation 3 which are fairly easy to look past. Not only that, but LBP.me – the website that showcases all of the community levels for every LBP game, once again feels right at home on the PS Vita, more so than it did on the PS3. Perhaps you’re taking your Vita out on a long journey but don’t want to waste battery beforehand, no problem because you can queue up levels on your PC using LBP.me, ready and waiting for you to download on your Vita anywhere you like (as long as your Vita is 3G).
Plenty of pins offer lots of re-playability
SONY has relied on LittleBigPlanet a lot in the past, and it’s easy to see why; almost every installment does something ground-breaking for the system. What’s most surprising is how well it holds its own on a handheld. All too often, a handheld game will be good, but not as good as the latest outing on the bigger console; take Uncharted Golden Abyss for example – although a good game, and arguably better than Drake’s Fortune, it’s not the best in the series – but LittleBigPlanet feels right at home on the Vita, as though it was made for it. So what’s surprising is that LittleBigPlanet PS Vita doesn’t only rival it’s PS3 counterparts, but in many ways surpasses them; making fantastic use of the Vita’s unique features like no other game, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is the best in the series, and that is something of a statement, especially considering Media Molecule only contributed slightly, leaving most of the work to Tarsier Studios and Double Eleven. It’s just a shame that LittleBigPlanet PS Vita wasn’t a launch title back in February of 2012, because if ever there was a system-seller, which has everything the system needs, making fantastic use of all of its unique features, this is certainly it.