PlayStation Mobile never took off in the way Sony had hoped it would. Despite powerful branding and a growing catalogue of smaller games suited to on the go gaming, it’s certainly no AppStore or Android Marketplace. Little wonder, then, that Sony Computer Entertainment has shifted its mobile focus somewhat, looking to these rival platforms as a way of delivering new gaming experiences and drawing a wider audience to its existing stable of gaming icons.
A couple of weeks ago the publisher released Fat Princess: Piece of Cake, a match-three puzzler that captured the whimsical allure of Titan’s PSN favourite. Now, a fortnight later, Sony is wheeling out another mobile spin-off: Run Sackboy! Run!
Much like Piece of Cake, this latest handheld title takes an existing mobile gaming formula, injects it with some new ideas and wraps it in a familiar foil. In Run Sackboy! Run! of course, that foil is Media Molecule’s LittleBigPlanet.
In a nutshell, Run Sackboy! Run melts down the charming setting and platform gameplay of the iconic PlayStation franchise to fit the mould of an accessible – though often challenging – endless runner. For those unfamiliar with this popular subgenre, think of games like Temple Run and Subway Surfers; games that have players swiping and tapping in order to avoid objects as their avatar gradually gains speed.
Being a LittleBigPlanet game, of course, players see all the action unfold from a side-on view. Using simple tapping and swiping gestures, you will navigate your little Sackboy through a network of pre-set stages, all inspired by locations from the PlayStation series. While leaping over enemies, spike pits, and other hazards, you’ll also have to keep an eye on the Negativitron, a huge monster that relentlessly chases you across each world.
As in any endless runner, your objective is to get as far as you can before falling prey to the game’s many surrounding dangers. The further you get, the higher you score. On top of that, in-game objectives can be completed to level up, with LBP’s point bubbles also making an appearance. In between runs, these can be used to buy a number of cosmetic perks and bonuses. Of course, being a free-to-play game, if you want any of the serious permanent boosts, you’ll be looking to pay at least a few quid.
Aside from score-chasing, replay value also comes in the form of collectible stickers, just like the ones found in LittleBigPlanet. These ones, however, are placed in an album that unlock new perks when you complete a specific selection. There are even a few bits of content that can be unlocked and used in both the existing PS3 titles as well as LBP3.
What surprised me most about Run Sackboy! Run! is how smoothly the game runs. Even on newer iterations of Apple tech, we still expect slight framerate murmurs and occasional crashes though, thankfully, neither of these were an issue. Perhaps even more impressive is how the UI and menu design closely reflect that found in LittleBigPlanet, sound effects and all!
The endless runner genre is far from stagnant, and Run Sackboy! Run! proves it. Though much will be familiar to mobile gaming fans, there are plenty of nice little added touches. Throw in LittleBigPlanet’s charming aesthetic and tight, responsive platforming and you really have a winner.