After an over-long wait, Sackboy has finally made his way onto PlayStation Vita, and to say that fans of the series have been waiting a long time for this game would be an understatement. There’s no question that the Vita has been severely lacking in the must-have software department, but does LittleBigPlanet Vita manage to pack a punch comparable to that of its PS3 brethren? The answer to that question is a resounding yes.
Anyone who has yet to experience a LittleBigPlanet game is probably wondering one of two things: What’s the game about, and why are there no spaces in between the words little, big, and planet? While I’m unable to answer the latter, I can shed some light on what gamers can look forward to in the latest, and vastly improved, portable version of one of the most innovative platformers on the market.
Much like a standard platforming title, the main protagonist, Sackboy, will run and jump from one side of the screen to the other — all the while avoiding obstacles and destroying enemies that obstruct his path. What makes LittleBigPlanet Vita stand out, however, is the abundance of creativity featured throughout the entire campaign. Add in drop-in online multiplayer and one of the most detailed level creators ever conceived within a video game, and players have an immeasurable amount of content at their disposal.
LittleBigPlanet Vita‘s story is based around the planet Carnivalia, which has been taken over by an evil entity known as The Puppeteer. The once fun-filled Carnivalia is corrupted by the villain – who has begun sucking up joy in order to create more enemies known as the Hollows. Sackboy sets off to put an end the The Puppeteer’s treachery and, along the way, encounters allies, foes, and a whimsical story that can only be expected from Media Molecule‘s fan-favorite series.
There are a grand total of five worlds featured in the main story – with over 40 stock levels available in total. The campaign won’t take gamers very long to tear through, but LBP Vita secures replay value by featuring loads of hidden swag and challenges that’ll take completionists countless hours (and an unparalleled amount of frustration) to complete. Even when every aspect of the story has been finished and everything in the game has been collected, players have yet to even scratch the surface.
Sony’s LittleBigPlanet is known for its level editor options, and the latest portable iteration doesn’t hold back anything from its console versions. The Vita title features a robust set of tools for the player, and even a few new ones that aren’t possible on any other piece of Sony hardware. Created levels have just as much intricate detail as any created on PlayStation 3, and — thanks to the touchscreen and rear touch capabilities of the PS Vita — there’s more to do in user created levels than ever before.
Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios, the main developers responsible for bringing Sackboy to Vita, have made exceptional use of the handheld’s unique features. Both front and rear touch tie seamlessly into the experience, and that’s only made better by the multiple ways that the touchscreens can be used. While the rear touch functionality allows players to push out objects hiding in the background, the front touch can be used for moving platforms and controlling projectiles fired out of the new rocket helmet power-up.
One of the best parts about playing any LittleBigPlanet game has always been meeting up with friends online for some zany platforming fun, and the Vita edition is no different. Gamers can play online with friends (or complete strangers) to complete user-created levels or story chapters, but anytime I’ve connected to another user online it’s been incredibly laggy. As a result of the lag, players will notice some significant problems when they attempt to do anything with the touchscreen. I’ve yet to join a game online, or host one, that didn’t lag, and it’s a disappointing blemish on what was supposed to be a very fun social feature.
Costumes that fans have purchased for past LBP titles can also be downloaded into the game, making anyone’s digital wardrobe collection portable. As of this review, not all of the costumes can be transferred over to LittleBigPlanet Vita yet, but comic fans can rest easy knowing that they’ll be able to dress up their sack person as any of the Marvel characters they’ve purchased. Of course, there are several other packs that were released for LittleBigPlanet 2 that are available, and they’ll suffice until Sony gets the others up and ready to go.
LittleBigPlanet Vita is so much more than just a LittleBigPlanet port. It’s tailored to the handheld in every way shape and form, and fans of the franchise will love the familiar feel. Best of all, the touchscreen manages to add a solid new way to play. The only real problem is online connectivity, and while patches are almost certainly incoming for the title, the lag takes away from any of the multiplayer fun that many may have been hoping for. That issue aside, the community surrounding this game will provide users with brand new content for many more years to come, and that makes this title worth every single penny.
LittleBigPlanet Vita is available now. Exclusively on PlayStation Vita.
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