Easily one of the break-out hits of the Playstation 3, the LittleBigPlanet franchise has brought its diminutive lead character (dubbed “Sackboy”) to the portable masses again, and this time out the game is superb. Even the occasions where you use the touchscreen! The touch controls feel intuitive and like a natural extension to the game. They aren’t tacked onto the game like Sony tried to do with the abyssmal PS Move-enabled add-on for LittleBigPlanet 2.
In this outing, Sackboy (or Sackgirl, if you prefer, since you can dress the character as either gender) needs to save the inhabitant of the amusement park-themed world of Carnivalia he (or she) finds himself (or herself) in from the depredations of The Puppeteer. The Puppeteer used to be a beloved member of this community, putting on shows and entertaining carnival attendees, until the crowds began booing his displays. The Puppeteer then lost his love of the craft and began his destructive reign, tearing down the very thing he once took joy in.
You’ll guide your Sackperson through the side-scrolling platforming gameplay of the main levels, which will take you between 4 and 6 hours. LittleBigPlanet Vita, like others before it, is spread through several similarly themed zones with multiple levels in each zone. There are also many mini-games that you can unlock as you explore the main story levels. Each of the mini-games is very well done and is enjoyable enough that I’d be willing to pay for them as stand-alones. My next-door neighbor’s grandson, aged 7, had about an hour’s enjoying out of the Whack-a-Mole type mini-game all by itself.
One of the biggest hallmarks of the LBP series, however, doesn’t shine quite as brightly on this outing: the music. I purchased quite a bit of music, after hearing it first in LBP (“Cornman” by Kinky, “Tapha Niang” by Toumani Diabete and the very awesome “Get It together” by The GO! Team) and LBP2 (“Rock Your Body” by Ferry Corsten, the amazing instrumental version of Passion Pit’s “Sleepyhead”). The music on the Vita version is perfectly adequate but not memorable, which is a shame. Instead, the music focuses on more instrumental pieces that help to set mood instead of standing out on their own.
Of note, the tools to create levels to share with others is also present in the Vita version of LittleBigPlanet and is greatly enhanced by the touch controls. The ability to swipe through menus, select items and place them in the game using your fingers feels like a breakthrough, and I’m looking forward to seeing what people create with these new level editor abilities.
LittleBigPlanet on the Vita is a compelling reason for the existence of a dedicated portable gaming unit, and one that I fully plan to enjoy; you should, too!