This latest build of LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is little more than a massive tease. It is, on the surface, the complete game – easing you into the menus with Fry’s softly spoken voiceover and a Story planet that threatens to be as fully featured as it looks. Instead, after rushing through the first set of levels in order to see what’s next, a sudden, metaphorical brick wall immediately halts progress.
So, what can we talk about that we’ve not already discussed plenty of times before? La Marionetta, the game’s first world, is probably the only thing you’re not already familiar with, especially if you’ve read our earlier articles or played the beta yourself.
Especially because – as far as we can tell – even the extra Arcade world only allows access to the great-but-played-to-death Tapling (Retro Vector, Super Conductor, Orb-it and StratoSphere remain locked regardless of your progress elsewhere). Even three-starring the clever little App Store-like minigame does nothing, a frustrating hour or so fruitless in its rewards.
But that’s preview code for you – unlabelled, unfinished and probably just a checkbox away from being the full thing – the download size, a hefty gig and a half – certainly suggests that it can’t all be lyrical chatter and grainy tutorial videos, of which – interestingly – this build seems fairly bulked out with. In terms of Create, it’s probably all in, but we’ll come back to that in another article.
Instead, let’s see what the Story mode does have.
The appropriately named Introduction is pure LittleBigPlanet, as if Media Molecule themselves have grabbed development duties for this one slice of platforming. It starts off with monochrome sketches and pencil lines, before Sackboy’s guided to the right over a wickedly smart ‘jump’ instruction (we’ll not spoil it) and then a batch of big-name logos. Nice to see Sumo Digital there.
Colour’s slowly introduced, along with the Pop-it box (at first to customise your character) and your facial expressions (which are mirrored precisely from previous versions) and then the sudden appearance of the world’s lead talking head and plot device – Colonel Flounder. It appears, from the real-time cut-scenes, that the planet Carnivalia is under some threat, and you’re just – predictably – in time.
There are shades of Tim Burton in the visual style and the transformations caused by the evil Puppeteer
It’s actually rather dark, with shades of Tim Burton in the visual style and the way that people are transformed into soulless Hollows by an evil entity known as The Puppeteer, who’s taken over the whole planet due to going slightly mad (and later, rage). From here, the remainder of the levels play out as your training and initiation sessions, gearing up your cute little Sackboy and ensuring he’s up to speed with all the various moves.
Levels open up in exactly the same way as with LittleBigPlanet 2, with success unlocking the next in a path, and any bonus levels activated by way of hidden keys found within. These bonus sections, namely the whack-a-mole-esque Bonce Tappin’ and the rather hysterical Wall or Nothing (think ITV’s Hole In The Wall) are lovely diversions, and of course, the use of the touch screen is deftly integrated where appropriate, as it is in the main sections of the first world.
- The touch interface brings bags of potential
- It looks stunning, even though it’s slightly blurry at times
- It’s a perfect portable translation of the franchise
- Create mode on a portable device is a mouthwatering prospect
Barring the introduction and the end bad guy (which is all too easily dispatched) there are five main levels and the two bonuses, so it’s done with in about an hour or so if you stick around to try to collect all the bonus items that litter the environments. One level Palace Of The Peculiar, is especially good though, it’s verging on the side of creepy, the carnival atmosphere (with distorted mirrors and spiralling wall designs) is brilliant, and the lighting especially is expertly done.
Visually LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is great. The actual display is a tiny bit blurry – potentially not native resolution or heavy amounts of anti-aliasing – but the menus and other displays are crystal sharp and super clear, which is probably a good compromise. It’s easily the equal of the PS3 versions though – textures are generally lovely, there are nice real-time reflections and the framerate’s nice and fluid. The Vita’s screen helps make the graphics really pop when needed too, of course.
Load times are pretty swift, which was a pleasant surprise, and the presentation’s spot on. There’s not really a massive amount I can really say about the game without going through each level because it’s really all been said before – this is everything I’d want a portable version of LittleBigPlanet to be and the story seems to have a real weight about it.
It’s a shame it was cut short then, but it’s not long to wait until the full game is released, so hopefully we’ll have more to say about the game’s single player before too long. Naturally this Vita version sports multiplayer (and again, some areas require a co-op partner to open up) and there are leaderboards for each level, so replayability shouldn’t be an issue.
We’ll take a closer look at the Create mode, and some of the key community levels soon now that there’s no longer an embargo. If you’ve made a level that you want us to investigate, just let us know.