Touch my Sackboy…
With the LittleBigPlanet series making strides on the PS3, it was time for Sackboy and friends to make the jump across to Sony’s latest handheld, the PlayStation Vita. This time round, the original developer, Media Molecule has passed the duties over to Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios. With everything the PS3 version has to offer and added touch elements, has the transition from been a success? Is it a must-buy, or a letdown? Read on to find out.
Game: LittleBigPlanet Vita
Developer: Double Eleven/Tarsier Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
The story that features in LittleBigPlanet Vita takes place on a traveling fairground planet called Carnivalia. Previously a bright, colourful and fun place to be on, the puppeteer became too big for his boots. Unfortunately, he created a bunch of nasty creatures called the Hollows, turning the once beautiful Carnivalia into a dark, gloomy and dangerous world, void of all of the puppets and puppeteers. With the help of Sackboy, your task is to take down the Hollows and bring back, not only the puppets, but the once fun and colourful world too. For those that are worried that this is a direct port of the story that featured in the PS3 versions, you can breathe easy as this it’s a totally brand new story that features in the PS Vita version only, and this alone keeps the game fresh and original.
One thing that will hit you straight away when you first start LittleBigPlanet is just how incredible it looks on the Vita’s stunning OLED screen. Colours pop from the screen and everything about the graphics screams class. The package really does hit you with its gorgeous and lush worlds that, if you have experienced on the PS3 versions, you’ll instantly fall in love with again. It really is like playing the PS3 version on a small screen. They are so alike, it’s uncanny. Not only do the colours look incredible, the lighting is beautiful too. Animations look incredible, with no issues stopping the flow and charm of Sackboy doing his thing. When you throw in the beautiful cutscenes that the game offers, it really does hit home as to how much both development studios have put in to make this an incredible looking title. If you’re expecting a dumbed-down version of its big brother, then you will be in for a massive shock. It’s a title that superbly demonstrates just how much power the PS Vita has under its hood.
LittleBigPlanet on the PS Vita features all the beautiful sound effects that you’ve come to expect from the series on the PS3. Not only will you hear the hilarious and quirky Stephen Fry pipe up from time to time with his brilliant tones, the game features voice acting during cutscenes that makes you realise why the LittleBigPlanet series is so unique and fun. As good as the sound effects are, the main attraction is the amazing soundtrack that features throughout the single player campaign. It’s extremely catchy, and it fits within the whole story aspect brilliantly, proving just how important music is in a video game.
What makes the LittleBigPlanet series so popular is alongside its cuteness and charm, you have a control setup that is so simple to get to grips with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a walk in the park by any means, as during the latter stages it becomes more trickier than you would expect. What makes it so user-friendly is that any age group can pick it up within minutes of playing it and feel accustomed to what they have to do in order to progress. Sackboy is still controlled using the left analog stick, the X button being used to jump, the R button to grab or hold and the square button bring up your PopIt to customise your character. However, due to the Vita having both a touch screen and rear touch pad, both have been incorporated into the PS Vita version and it works like a dream. The touch screen is used for a variety of different scenarios, including moving objects across the screen and placing them in a different location. This is done by just pressing and holding on the movable object and dragging your finger across the screen to move the item. For the most part, it works superbly, but there were a few occasions early on where I struggled to hold the PS Vita and use the touch screen at the same time. Other instances where you use the touch screen include pulling levers down, moving cogs, firing rockets and to activate fingerprint scanner. The rear touch pad is used in a very similar way, but more emphasis is placed on pushing blocks forward and backwards to help you progress. You’ll do thing like build stairs and control Sackboy in flying a robot/bird combo contraption. Again, it’s all easy to pick up and very much natural.
Within each level on LittleBigPlanet Vita you will come across score bubbles and prize puzzles that not only give you a better score when the level is completed, but also reward you with new items such as stickers, costume parts and tools for creating when you delve into the deep creative mode. One cool element that adds more depth to the game is the ability to collect ‘key’ bubbles that are dotted around Carnivalia. Each key gives you a new side mission to add to your single player campaign, these can range from versus games (that will need another player either online or offline to play) that include stream racing, air hockey, a boxing mini-game and (my personal favourite) bash-a-sackboy. One huge feature in the PS Vita version is the brilliant level creator that most of you will be familiar with from the PS3 versions of LittleBigPlanet. As well as being a fully-fledged editor, it actually feels more natural on the PS Vita due to the fact that the touch screen and touch pad are used to do all of the creating which makes the whole experience that little bit easier than it was previously. Be it the touch screen for using your PopIt, laying down stickers and adding materials or the rear touchpad for zooming in and out, it works like a dream and is s rewarding once you get your creative side going.
Whilst the story mode can be completed in around five hours, there is still a huge amount to explore and experience within LittleBigPlanet Vita. Collecting all the items in each level alone takes a vast amount of time. Add to that the fact that you have mini-games and the ability to play levels that other users have created, there’s plenty to do in LittleBigPlanet Vita. This is without even mentioning the huge level creator that’s featured. LittleBigPlanet is the PS Vita game that just keeps on giving.
LittleBigPlanet Vita on the PS Vita really is a stunning piece of software. It has been crafted with such dedication and finesse that it’s hard to believe that this series was made originally to be used with a standard home console controller, especially when it works so wonderfully well on such a smaller device. The series’ trademark charm and charisma is also present, with the visuals being more than matching up to the PS3 versions. If you own a PS Vita, you need LittleBigPlanet in your life. To say this game is a ‘must-buy’ is an understatement of the highest order. Touch screen Sackboy, we salute you.