Apple’s AppStore has changed the way we game. Bite-sized chunks of gaming have become the best way to get your gaming fix on the go. Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Tiny Wings, to name a few, allow for easily accessible, touch screen controls and excellent gameplay on a portable device. Many people don’t want games like Uncharted on a handheld console; a lot of people would rather just have small yet sweet playthings.
This is where LittleBigPlanet comes in; rather than paying a sum of money for each of those minigames, you’ll be able to play many touch-controlled app-style games as well as the more traditional levels available. Once the community gets their hands on the game, who knows what we’ll see. Perhaps someone will create the next Jetpack Joyride inside LittleBigPlanet. We’ve seen amazing things with the home console versions, so with these new touch tools for creations, there’s bound to be an abundance of creations.
Puzzle games will work well with the Vita's touch controls.
In my time with the game, I was shown a few developer-created levels. My first glimpse of LBP Vita was an air hockey style game, played with two players holding the Vita vertically rather than horizontally. This game, while just a quick example of the touch screen controls, played brilliantly; each player could control a hockey paddle with their finger and played a versus game of air hockey – it actually worked rather well. This was made with the in-game tools, too, so we’ll see many more of these brilliant two player multi-touch games after the game is released.
Another game, in the style of Plinko, involved tapping switches on the screen to change routes, in order to match balls with their colour; this worked well and showed off the Vita’s responsive touch controls as well as acting as another example of a mini-game that could be created. While another small game acted as a top-down racer, with a futuristic style similar to Tron, played with the Vita vertical and using the stick below the screen, showing that it’s not only touch controls that make the Vita unique; the screen rotation can make a big difference, too.
Yes, we’ll probably see a lot of Angry Birds clones – which isn’t entirely a bad thing – but in amongst these creations we’ll see some genuinely ingenious mini-games and levels. We’ve seen the enormity of things that can be made in the Create mode of LittleBigPlanet 2 and the Vita version will contain these tools and more (including the mapping of all of the Vita’s touch controls and even multi-touch functionality) so that those with the skills can make basically anything you’d want on your Smartphone, on your Vita.LittleBigPlanet harnesses every feature of the Vita to its maximum potential; whether it’s in the aforementioned mini-games or the more traditional platforming levels. You see, LittleBigPlanet’s layers work wondrously with the Vita’s front and back touch controls.
Using the touch screen, you can move blocks that are too heavy for Sackboy with your finger to where you need them to be, or pull back on a catapult to fling Sackboy across the level. The rear touch panel is also used to do things such as pushing out blocks from behind to make stairways and bridges to cross.
Even the Vita’s tilt controls are harnessed in the game, allowing you to move a swinging platform within jumping distance.
There’s the usual LittleBigPlanet charm and the graphics are pretty excellent, too – Sackboy isn’t as neat as he is on PlayStation 3, but the environments are as colourful as ever, and there’s lots of customisable options from the looks of things. It plays wonderfully, too – the platforming is as good as ever, yet the game still retains those physics that define how LittleBigPlanet plays.
The Vita version of LittleBigPlanet looks to be an excellent blend of both a big platforming adventure and a wonderful, practically endless collection of mini-games to play – some of which will be incredible, going by what we’ve seen made in LittleBigPlanet before. To cement the game’s use as a marketplace for mini-games, plans are to allow players to be able to download levels at home, for use on the go. Long journeys or even short trips will be better than ever when you have a mountain of free, downloaded levels in your pocket.