LittleBigPlanet PSP released on November 17, 2009 in North America. It had been little over a year since the original LittleBigPlanet was released, and since that time it had become a flagship Playstation series. With it’s huge popularity, a portable version was inevitable. But when it released, it was a watered down experience. It was still LittleBigPlanet, sure, and I’ll admit, I had some fun with it. But there were just some inexcusable downgrades like a layer being removed, or creating levels becoming more frustrating than it already was. This is why I was fairly skeptical going into LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, but it has not let me down. In fact, it has destroyed my expectations and gone far beyond them. It’s rare for a handheld adaption to live up to it’s namesake. It is even rarer for it to surpass its console brethren by miles, but that is just what LittleBigPlanet PS Vita has achieved.
The story is typical LittleBigPlanet fare. A evil creativity/joy sucking character wants to steal all of the creativity/joy, and it’s up to Sackboy to stop him. Along the way, you meet many wacky Sack-People such as the crazy, mustachioed Colonel Flounder and the strong, Popeye-esque Sean Brawn. The dialogue delivered by these characters is impeccably written. I found myself unknowingly cracking up at a few lines every few minutes or so, and that was very refreshing. I wasn’t being bogged down with plot points or drama filled monologues. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with mature storytelling, but it is refreshing to just have sheer, childish fun sometimes, and that is exactly what LittleBigPlanet PS Vita delivers.
Following the main path of the story takes you through five very unique worlds. Each one introduces a new gadget(s) and utilizes it (or them) to the max. The level design in the LittleBigPlanet series has always been top notch, and the developers really stepped it up in this iteration. Every level has puzzles based around the gadget on hand. Some of these are extremely clever and fresh. That’s impressive because it’s difficult to make something “fresh” in LittleBigPlanet considering there are 7,185,217 user levels and counting! There are still multiple hidden areas tucked away in each level, and collecting every bubble you can find is still a blast. The pièce de résistance, however, is the controls. Every piece of the Vita’s hardware has been integrated in a natural way that doesn’t feel gimmicky or tacked on. Need to move a blue platform? No problem, just tap and drag. Pushing a platform out of the background? Push it with the back touch-pad. Rolling that sponge you’re hanging from over a bit? Tilt the Vita. Every button, motion and touch gesture in LittleBigPlanet PS Vita feels intuitive and snappy. My only issue with the controls is one I’ve had since the series debut; floatiness. Now I know I just said that the controls are snappy, and they are. Running, grabbing, swinging, etc. are all responsive, but when it comes time to jump it can be hard to land Sackboy where he needs to go. It isn’t as big an issue as it was with the original LittleBigPlanet, but it still can be frustrating at times.
Visually, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is on par, if not better than it’s predecessor. And I’m not referring to LittleBigPlanet PSP. I’m talking about LittleBigPlanet 2. That’s right, this portable version of a PS3 game maintains its looks and manages to look even more gorgeous on the Vita’s OLED screen. Colors pop (and there are a lot of colors), the art style still shines, and character design is incredibly unique. Each area has a completely different visual style from the last and is very memorable. The backgrounds of each level are usually bustling with activity, be it the enemy or ally. This adds a little life and motion to each level. It’s a subtle touch, but it makes a huge difference.
Quite possibly the most popular feature of the LittleBigPlanet series is the level creator. In it, you can make your wildest dreams come to life. That is, if you can figure out how to use the tools. Using the level creator in LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is still difficult, but not nearly as bad as it used to be due to the new control inputs. Using the touch screen to re-size, move and place objects just feels right. And there are now even more tools at your disposal. The Memorizer acts as a save system, so now it isn’t necessary to finish levels all at once. This also allows creators to make huge games, without worrying that no one will be able to finish. On top of that, there are features such as achievements for user created levels and the text tool. The creation suite is huge this time around, and will surely keep creators busy for months, maybe years, to come.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is, for all intents and purposes, LittleBigPlanet 3. It keeps, and improves upon everything from its predecessors. There is a huge number of story levels, tons to collect, a robust level creator, and community levels. The platforming never gets stale, just a bit frustrating at times, and the overall design of the game is stunning. If you like platformers, or just having fun in general, drop what you are doing and go buy LittleBigPlanet PS Vita. NOW.