For the past few years, Media Molecule has been making a name for itself with just one little guy – Sackboy – and a whole world of adventure you could create around him. That series, LittleBigPlanet, has gone on to great success on the PlayStation 3, through both the release of the original game and its sequel, and various themed packs made available on a monthly basis through PlayStation Network. Now, while PS3 owners gear up for a different kind of experience with LittleBigPlanet Karting coming their way later this year, Vita owners will be getting a special version of LittleBigPlanet all their own.
The portable version of the game is quite loyal to the original, though it’s played out in a whole new way that’s configured to the Vita. You once again control Sackboy – or a Sackgirl, if you prefer that sort of character – through a number of fantasy worlds, collecting little orbs as currency, along with stickers that you can add to your collection. These stickers actually serve some sort of purpose, as you can paste them on objects throughout the world, designing it however you please.
The creation engine isn’t just limited to adding sticker décor, however. One of LittleBigPlanet’s biggest assets is being able to build your own worlds utilizing the tools provided by the developer, then sharing them with other players across the PlayStation Network. In addition, you can download theirs, adding almost infinite replayability to the game, giving you something new to try each week.
With LittleBigPlanet on Vita, Sony is promising compatibility with previously released content for LittleBigPlanet 2, including all the usable tools and skins from that version, along with DLC. For good measure, exclusive content will also be made available following the game’s release, though Sony has yet to specify just what kind of content that will be. We wouldn’t be surprised if the previously released skin and level creation packs were compatible with this version somewhere down the road.
But LittleBigPlanet isn’t just a cut and dry port that’s made with the same sort of control scheme as the original. While the traditional side-scrolling gameplay remains intact, Sony actually utilized the PlayStation Vita’s specific touch sensors to enhance the gameplay.
Let’s say you’re working your way through a stage. There are some moments where you’ll find obstacles blocking your way, or you need to create a staircase in order to reach a higher level. To do this, you can use both the front touch-screen and the rear touch pads in order to move obstacles into the background and forefront, merely by tapping on them. As you do this, the level will shift around, letting you proceed. Other obstacles are also workable using these touch screen features, including spinning wheels. What’s more, you can also use the system’s gyro sensors in certain cases, though we have yet to test those in action.
We won’t have to wait long, as Sony, along with the game’s developer, Double Eleven (working in conjunction with Media Molecule), is already throwing out a few invites for a pre-release beta, one that will help work the bugs out before the game’s release. We managed to give this beta a try, and despite a few glitches that cause the game to freeze entirely (it’s updated frequently, so it’s not a concurrent problem), it reacts very well to the PS Vita touch screen, especially with controls. We haven’t had a chance to test out user sharing just yet, but with a strong connection to the PlayStation Network, there shouldn’t be anything stopping you from showing off to your friends with the final game’s release.
How does it translate to the PlayStation Vita? Well, judging by what we’ve seen so far, the developer is staying quite true to Media Molecule’s original coding. The graphics really brighten up the Vita screen, from Sackboy’s multiple selectable reactions (we prefer the wide smile with the tongue hanging out the side) to the levels themselves, which bring the world to fantastic life through multi-level scrolling and a whimsical style all their own. And the fact you can dabble with this world at your own choosing makes it even nicer to play around with.
LittleBigPlanet also includes a bouncy little soundtrack, very similar to games past with upbeat pop and techno tunes. While you can’t really tweak it that much, there’s not much reason to. Pop on the headphones and you’ll have a good time.
Out of all the upcoming Vita games, LittleBigPlanet has the potential to grow the furthest, thanks to the sharing features that made it such a hit in the first place, along with reconfigured controls that make the most from the device, and a solid presentation. And we won’t have to wait too much longer for it, as it’s on track for a late summer release. Nothing beats ending a season than with a happy Sackboy.