LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is LittleBigPlanet in your pocket. The importance of this cannot be overstated. From now on, whenever you're bored or in transit, you'll have story levels to beat for special prizes, versus games like air hockey for you and the person next to you to play on the same touch screen, and -- potentially -- a nearly infinite supply of user-created games unlike anything this franchise has ever seen. Saying LittleBigPlanet works quite well as a PlayStation Vita game is an understatement.
Of course, this all starts with a little guy named Sackboy. In two games on PS3 and one on PSP, the basics of LittleBigPlanet have been established and this Vita version honors them. Through five worlds packing more than 40 levels, you take Sackboy on his quest to save Craftworld. The story itself is mixed up with cutely deranged characters but never goes anywhere beyond nonsense. That doesn't matter, though. Playing the story is good for collecting stickers, unlocking costumes and taking part in Sony's version of Mario Bros. Most of the time, your goal is to make it from the left side of the screen to the right while leaping on enemies, using grappling hooks, and avoiding instant death.“
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is the definitive LittleBigPlanet game.
As always, this setup is great. You'll have to explore to find all the hidden items and be quick on the jumps to Ace a level (i.e. complete it without dying). Online is here for you and up to three WiFi friends to play through. All of your downloaded costumes from LBP and LBP2 will work here, although that functionality wasn't up yet as of review. But LittleBigPlanet PS Vitadoesn't fall into the "same old, same old" territory thanks to some brilliant level design that employs water, twists and an excellent implementation of the Vita's touch controls.
The worst thing a developer can do in this day and age -- besides trust the state of Rhode Island -- is shoehorn motion and touch controls into a game that doesn't need it. LittleBigPlanet has always broken the fourth wall and cast you as a big part in Sackboy's story. So, in LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, it makes sense that you need to pull down launchers, push out platforms and guide rockets with your fingertips. These instances make the game more engaging and never get in the way of trying to Ace a level or win a race. The laid back feel of LBP and the perfect pacing of levels mesh really well with touch.
He Only Does Everything Colin Moriarty and I had a conversation about his gripes with touch -- that the controls weren't responsive enough to quick touches -- but I contend that they're just not responsive in the way he wants. Just like the floaty jumping mechanics, LittleBigPlanet marches to the beat of its own drummer. You might not like that beat, but that doesn't mean it's wrong. Once you use a touch surface, you should understand how it needs to be controlled.
Beneath the adorableness of Sackboy lies an incredibly complex and dynamic create tool you can use to whip up platforming levels or games all your own. The ability to create your own games starring your own characters came with LittleBigPlanet 2, but LittleBigPlanet takes it a step further and changes not only the franchise but the landscape of the PlayStation Vita.
The Memorizer (mistakenly called the Savinator in a couple of IGN videos) allows you to create levels/games that save progress. Let that sink in. You can now create RPGs in LittleBigPlanet that remember stats, stories that remember where you left off, and games that unlock levels as you progress. You can even link one Memorizer to another Memorizer in another level so that your story carries on.
Since the public doesn’t have access to LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, amazing creations aren't out there yet, but the work people have done in the seven million LBP levels to date and the content produced in the LBP PS Vita beta show that they're coming. As kind of a proof of concept, developers Tarsier and Double Eleven included a sixth world in Story Mode called The Arcade in LittleBigPlanet PS Vita. Here are five levels that have nothing to do with Sackboy. They're five games that star original characters, emulate old school space shooting, use touch, and redefine what people should expect from a LBP creation.
These are the most exciting levels for me. Everyone at IGN knew I was reviewing LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, but when they'd come over to look and see one of these levels, they didn't think it was the same game. When the LittleBigPlanet community gets its hands on the PS Vita version, amazing stuff is going to happen, and the PlayStation Vita is going to have a free App Store.
This calls out the biggest problem of LittleBigPlanet PS Vita -- creating stuff is still incredibly complicated. Of course, no one said creating games is easy, but this is my fourth LittleBigPlanet game, and I'm still stumped as to do some of the coolest stuff. I went through all of LBP Vita's 67 tutorials, but I still couldn't get my IGN text adventure off the ground.
This isn't a crippling problem as there are wikis, guides and a humongous community out there to help anyone willing to spend the time, but since 2008, LBP creation really hasn't changed that much on an instructional or intuitive front. The people who are great at it will continue to be great, and the casual creators like myself won't progress much. For future reference, I learn the best by seeing, so I'd love to look behind the curtain of the developer levels and see how those minds made their levels.
Still, with the ability to tweak physics, water and more, the complicated create mode is bad for the casual creator and the best thing possible for the talented pros.