The Average Gamer
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LittleBigPlanet Vita Review

LBP Vita - Do Re MiEven on the small screen, LittleBigPlanet has all the charm and content to easily be considered one of the best games on the Vita, and arguably the best game in the series.

LittleBigPlanet is a game that has always relied on the wonders of a gamer’s imagination to truly flourish. Stephen Fry’s opening monologue immediately sets the ideology: you’re given the keys to the developer’s playhouse; the world of LittleBigPlanet is anything you want it to be.

Do you want to build a rendition of the games of your childhood? Go ahead. Perhaps you want to swing across the rooftops of a futuristic metropolis, or creep your way through a horror house. All your wildest imaginations can come true in LittleBigPlanet. Now, on the PlayStation Vita, there are even more toys to play with.

For newcomers to the series, LittleBigPlanet is a platformer where every level has been designed within the game itself. Instead of the developers creating complex codes within The Matrix, levels are created using deceptively simple in-game tools that even you and I can master. Thousands of gamers all over the world have become experts at building brilliant levels, from homages to the greatest videogames in history, to simple achievement hunters.

LittleBigPlanet Vita takes place in the world of Carnivalia, a once happy land where The Puppeteer performed magical shows to the laughter of Carnivalians the world over. Unfortunately, the people stopped laughing, sending The Puppeteer on a destructive tirade, casting all of his treasured puppets aside. It’s Sackboy’s job to journey across five maps and save the world, collecting as many points and prize bubbles as possible along the way.

Though short, the campaign is very entertaining, introducing many of the functions that the Vita can offer. The game plays like the best of LittleBigPlanet, presenting some of the smoothest gameplay to grace the series. The touch features added to the platforming never feel obtrusive and always add to the experience. Moving blocks around to guide Sackboy across platforms or pulling plungers to fling him around like a pinball somehow feels natural. The ability to swipe through the Pop-It menu is a real time saver. Selecting stickers and costumes can now be done in a matter of seconds if you know what you’re looking for.

Hidden throughout the campaign are keys to unlock score challenges, all of which are surprisingly fun. These challenges mainly use the Vita’s touch and gyroscope functions, from whack-a-Sackboy to a heavily inspired Doodle Jump level where Sackboy must bounce his way to the finish with the highest score possible. These little distractions add longevity to the campaign. There’s also an arcade hub, which has five separate games altogether. These games can be unlocked by playing the campaign, and feel like great iPhone apps. Some focus on retro and others have a more modern twist, including my favourite, Super Conductor, where you must guide electricity through a circuit within the time-limit.

The campaign offers significant replay value with the option to play through with a few friends online. Certain segments require at least one other player in order to complete them, and there are areas which require stickers to unlock extra goodies which you won’t have unlocked in your first playthrough, so expect to pay a couple of visits to each level.

Looking at multiplayer, there were some lag issues which caused a few deaths but with infinite lives it wasn’t a major problem, plus the connection soon stabilised. As long as you’re playing with players who understand that co-operation is the key to success, multiplayer is great fun. A few of the challenge levels can also be played with a friend, even locally. You and a friend can play a game of air hockey using each end of the Vita, or try and build the highest tower in a mix of Jenga and Tetris.

As good as the LittleBigPlanet Vita campaign is, the community will ultimately decide how successful it will be. The real meat will lie in Create mode. The console versions of the game saw bucket-loads of content added to the servers daily, which meant that players could play this game for months on end without ever experiencing repetition. The Vita is still in the early days of its life cycle, so there aren’t as many consoles in the hands of gamers at this point.

Hopefully the LBP community wrap their loving arms around this game and we’ll start seeing levels in the hub world once the game arrives on store shelves. The new ability for users to create levels where players can save mid-game will surely be a huge bonus. Players will now be able to create epic RPGs, should they have the patience, and you can now also take pictures of anything in the environment using the Vita’s camera.

I can’t tell at the moment how successful this game will be in the online space, so once the game has been out for a few weeks, I’m going to have a look at some of the user-created levels and give you some more detailed feedback right here on The Average Gamer.

LBP Vita - SwingingThanks to the Vita’s connect functions and 3G, players will have no problem uploading their high scores or downloading the latest levels. Near integration has also been added, so players can see scores of people nearby and post challenges.

For anyone who’s new to LBP’s Create Mode (like myself), prepare to commit some serious time if you want to get good. The game does a great job of teaching you everything you need to know, but there are 67 tutorials in total (exactly), starting with the basic principles and properties of materials, cameras, AI and so on, leading up to sequencers and memorisers. All of these tutorials are available within your own hub world that houses your created levels. The one frustration is you have to exit one tutorial and then select the next, rather than move seamlessly through tutorials, so it takes up more time than it should.

I’m still trying to get to grips all the tools available. It’s a lot to take in, but with the new touch functions, in-depth tutorials and ability to keep building on-the-go, there’s never been a better time to have a dab at creating my very own Donkey Kong rip-off.

LittleBigPlanet is my favourite PlayStation Vita game, and the game is just the start. Once it’s in the hands of LBP veterans, the community space will be awash with fiendish levels, all of which can be saved straight to your queue and played on your travels. This is a must-buy for all Vita owners, and could well be a reason for people to pick up the Vita period.

LittleBigPlanet Vita will be out on 21st September. You can get pre-order bonuses from GAME and Amazon.

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