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First Impressions: LittleBigPlanet 2 Cross-Controller Pack [PS3/PS Vita]

Sackboy on the move, again.

Since the Vita’s launch a year ago, Sony have strived to link up the Vita and the PS3 in as many ways as possible. Cross-Save, Cross-Play and plenty other Cross-based initiatives which I’m forgetting the name of. However, one which I always thought would be interesting to play around with was Cross-Controller.

Think of the potential of the Wii U’s second screen functionality coming to the PS3 and Vita combination, and you’ve got the right idea.

With this pack, we’re seeing one of the first real attempts of using this functionality and it works really quite well. I never noticed any lag in control, and everything worked exactly as expected.

Included are a handful story levels and minigames, created to demonstrate what the tech can do. Ideally you’ll be playing this with a friend, as there’s a definite lead and follow aspect to the level design, with the two minigames a co-operative effort across both screens.

The Vita’s extra screen very naturally fits into what they’ve created, giving you a little holographic sack head when not in use, before chirping at you when you come into range of some interactive elements.

These range from touching on the screen to create a spy glass and reveal hidden objects on the TV, so that your friends can see where dangers lie, to pushing blocks in and out of the screen and little puzzles which only the Vita can see and interact with.

the pack shown off at gamescom this year

The only downside to all these gewgaws for the Vita is that you can only really focus on one screen at a time, and without carefully handling the pacing, a second player can easily tire of always having to wait on the other player.

However, things get much more interesting for everyone when the Vita player heads via a portal to a dedicated section of level. Here you can platform and interact with the world almost as though it were LBP Vita, but with your actions able to influence and tie back into the main level. Meanwhile, the other players who can have their own bit of interplay and affect what occurs on the Vita, depending on what the level designer wants.

That thinking extends well to the two minigames in the pack, the best of which sees the Vita using tilt controls to move a spaceship back and forth, to fight waves of incoming enemy ships, whilst the PS3 player(s) have to try and navigate a platforming level inside the ship, with the grappling hook, whilst it spins around them via the Vita’s tilting.

It’s devilishly tricky to work together and look after your own skin at the same time, but I really relished the challenge, and for me it was a highlight which really showed off what you can create with this DLC pack.

Speaking of which, there are a smattering of new tools, so you can make your own levels. All of the creation for the Vita is done on the Vita itself using a creation system similar to that of LBP Vita, and for the PS3 on the PS3. Linking the two together you use a Remote Tag Sensor to detect when a Tag on the other system is activated.

You can also send various inputs across the aether with the Tag Radar letting you attach a Tag to an item and then have various interactions from LBP Vita translate across. Similarly, the Vitanator tool on the PS3 is able to receive the button inputs from a Vita based Controllinator, because you’re not actually in direct control of the main Sackboy on PS3, but instead controlling a Sackboy on the Vita which is in turn controlling the Sackboy on PS3.

Similar mental hoops are required for the Wormhole tool, which lets you teleport from one place to another. Except that it doesn’t jump Sackboys directly between consoles, making recreating some of the tricks from the bundled levels difficult to figure out. I’ve had a long hard look at it, but haven’t really been able to figure it out for myself yet.

The community will no doubt rally around with walkthroughs, but it feels like there are just these little idiosyncrasies which have come from bolting on yet another pack of features onto what was already a complicated set of creation tools.

Unfortunately the initial set up process is another of these oddities. You have to head through the Remote Play app to the Cross-Controller app on the Vita, before linking up to LBP 2 with the latest 1GB patch, and select the new Cross-Controller option from the Pod menu. Then it’s a 482MB install on your Vita, so make sure you have enough space, and patience for the 12-15 minutes it took to copy across the data and install.

Even with everything set up, you’ll always have to first navigate to the Cross-Controller sub-section in LBP2. If you leave the Pod menu, then the Vita loses control, so you need a designated controller connected for those moments of messing around in the Pod. It also needs to be turned on when playing levels, or the Vita can’t assume control of your character. So if you have an auto-sleep timer for your DS3, you’d best plug it in with a long USB cable to charge.

It’s a shame, because when you’re up and running it’s really very good. The levels included are great, and show off some of the neat tricks that the community will be able to build on for their own levels. Just be sure to pass the Vita around, so friends playing alongside you don’t get bored of you getting to do everything. Keep them happy, because co-op is really where this will shine.

The pack (which was publisher-supplied for the purpose of this article) is out tomorrow, with the update patch available now.

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12 Comments
  1. Kennykazey
    Member
    Since: Mar 2010

    Almost half a gig on the Vita? Geez. I’m still interested though, so this’ll be fun over Christmas.

    Comment posted on 18/12/2012 at 21:12.
  2. Shadow_lawless
    Member
    Since: Aug 2010

    It’s a shame Sony implemented this whole cross controller stuff so awkwerdly, in my opinion the whole workings of it should be invisible. you should just be able to pair your vita the same way you would with a controller and have it connect via Bluetooth whenever it is in range of a ps3 system by just holding the ps button (on the vita) and selecting the ps3. then have games be able to detect when it’s connected or if your ps3 has previously been paired with a vita.

    When you start a game for the first time It could just ask you if would like to switch on your vita and Install content wirelessly (via its own Internet connection if possible so you can continue playing until its downloaded) or if you we’re using the vita when you started the game just have it start installing automatically.

    It’s always the little bits where Sony drops the ball

    Comment posted on 18/12/2012 at 22:10.
    • Shadow_lawless
      Member
      Since: Aug 2010

      Bluetooth/wifi** there are loads of phone apps which do this sort of thing with your pc. If I start mobile mouse on my phone and my laptop is on it automatically connects no registering even required.

      They could even have it so whenever you turn on your ps vita it detects which ps3 games you’ve played recently and ask you if you would like to install the cross controller stuff

      Comment posted on 18/12/2012 at 22:15.
    • teflon
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      With Bluetooth, the PS3 came with Bluetooth 2.0, whilst BT 2.1 brings the kind of behaviour of which you’re thinking.
      This is simply a matter of getting 7 year old technology to interact with a much more modern system.

      I do think that some little areas could have been made simpler and more obvious in this case, but the future of the system is no doubt going to be able to work past some of these little things.

      Comment posted on 19/12/2012 at 01:26.
      • Shadow_lawless
        Member
        Since: Aug 2010

        Yes but i’m sure the wifi on the vita is capable of receiving a simple “download this file command and hyperlink” message from the ps3, also the DS3 controllers can pair when in range in the exact way I’m thinking so i don’t think its a technology issue.

        Comment posted on 19/12/2012 at 13:46.
      • Shadow_lawless
        Member
        Since: Aug 2010

        It would detect which games you’ve played recently through PSN not bluetooth if thats what you thought i meant

        Comment posted on 19/12/2012 at 13:47.
      • teflon
        Community Team
        Since: May 2009

        Pairing between DS3 and PS3 is done via USB. You plug your unpaired DS3 into your console, turn the console on and press the PS button on the DS3.

        The only apps I’ve seen which let you use a phone as a touchpad require an app on the phone and also a server app on the computer. There’s a similar requirement of the mobile sniffing out this connection over WiFi.
        However, whereas that then gives you a universal input, Cross-Controller doesn’t let you control the XMB or outside of the Pod Computer.

        Detecting recent games via PSN would be nice, but could easily be just as unweildy. It would require PS+ to do so, at least, and the existing install process would also have to be there. Not to mention that if it’s only asking you when you turn the Vita on, it’ll still be quicker to copy across from the PS3…

        There are ways to improve matters, but they’re generally being hampered by old technologies.

        Comment posted on 19/12/2012 at 15:46.
  3. beneddy
    Member
    Since: Feb 2010

    you can play through the levels on your own, right?

    Comment posted on 18/12/2012 at 22:25.
    • teflon
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      The story levels, yes, but the two mini games require you to have a Vita player and a PS3 player working together.

      Community levels will be totally down to the creator. :)

      Comment posted on 19/12/2012 at 01:28.
  4. dave87fez
    Member
    Since: May 2011

    Sounds crazy-complicated, in terms of level creation. And here I was all proud of myself for finally getting to grips with Sackbots and Controlinators and whatnot…

    Comment posted on 19/12/2012 at 01:15.
    • teflon
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      I’m sure it’s all down to your mindset. The Vitanator is mainly going to be a receiver for a Controllinator module on the Vita, the Tag Radar seems simple enough, translating touch inputs to the bigger screen.

      I just couldn’t really get my head around what Sumo had done in order to create the illusion of teleporting over to the smaller screen. There’ll be a tutorial popping up on LBP Central any time now, which will make it all seem blindingly obvious, I’m sure!

      Comment posted on 19/12/2012 at 01:32.
  5. XisTG
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    482MB? Dammit!

    Comment posted on 19/12/2012 at 09:20.

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