LittleBigPlanet PS Vita
: Tarsier Studios, Double Eleven Studios, in conjunction with Media Molecule
: Sony Computer Entertainment
Puzzle Platformer/ Creative Gaming
September 25th, 2012
Sackboy leaps from the PlayStation 3 onto your PS Vita for the first time with LittleBigPlanet PS Vita. Let him warm your heart as he greets you with more stages and levels to play in the new title in the series!
The carnival may not always be fun and games with cotton candy and rides that twirl a Sackboy's tummy. The Puppeteer has taken all the good from, what is normally, a fun place and is turning little Sackboys and girls who enter its doors into Hallows. The Puppeteer was once the greatest entertainer of Carnivalia and was taken by the Dreaded Boo. Upon his return, the Puppeteer was filled with rage and his funfilled magic gone, leaving the people of Carnivalia running from his presence.
Sackboy’s mission is to learn the skills required to defeat the Puppeteer at the secret camp called La Marionetta.
The base of LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is Sackboy’s cardboard pod that gives him a window into the various places to explore in LittleBigPlanet. The player has the option to be taken to the Story planet, the Community planet, and My Levels moon. Each will offer the player different gameplay experiences. You can jump into the story mode and open up more levels in the story as you progress further in the game by completing levels, starting with La Marionetta, designed by Colonel Flounder. Many extraordinary characters will be introduced throughout the various stages of the game, giving the stages their own personality and setting. When picking a stage, it will then open up the various levels in that particular stage and can be thought of as a handy map marker. Tap the level once for a briefing of what is in store in that level and tap a second time to jump right in! The level will display a gold Sackboy head to show what levels are completed, along with a percentage of goodies and prizes that the player discovered in the level.
The visuals for LittleBigPlanet PS Vita pop! LittleBigPlanet is known for its fantasy-filled setting and adorable characters. The graphics contain cartoon artwork with a mix of more realistic images. The setting takes on cheerful and fun graphics that have a crafting type feel. Of course it isn’t always happy and cheerful in the land of Carnivalia and the setting backs up the mood with a gloomy and eerie feel, where the stage is much darker and the lightning flashes through the window will be the only source of light offered in some areas. Since LittleBigPlanet is the aura that hugs the planet earth full of ideas and the creativity of the player, the game’s main character is crafted from yarn and has button eyes, a mouth of felt, and a zipper down his stomach to keep his stuffing tucked away. Some of the blocks that Sackboy jumps on, have a look of different types of fabrics sewn together and even some of the elements in the background are cardboard or material props.
As I mentioned before, each level has its own setting and own extraordinary character. The characters match the setting of the level they are in. There are a total of five that will take the player through the levels of their stage, teaching you all the tricks of the trade that pertain to that stage. The Hallows in the game are workers for the Puppeteer, carrying out his evil plan. They resemble wooden figure models that artists use as a base to pose and draw human characters.
The pallet is full of bright colors and life. However, through the eerie times, the colors are dismal to emphasize on the gloom that Carnivalia unknowingly fell into. The graphics were definitely not skimped out on the PS Vita’s version of a LittleBigPlanet game.
Each piece of music for LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is peaceful and chipper with a synthesized feel to it between stages, as you select your stage. Action music will bring the player right into the gameplay experience. As the action intensifies, the music will back up the experience. The stages also share some upbeat carnival music with a lot of horns that you would expect to hear as you see clowns juggle or trapeze artists swing above in a real carnival. Some stages have some synthesized music that is upbeat and motivating to the player. While all the music in the game was fitting and quite enjoyable, I did find myself missing the LittleBigPlanet song that we know and love from the original titles. I didn’t seem to hear it throughout the game, which it is normally in the intro stage that displays the team that worked on the titles. However, I must point out, that I was extremely pleased to hear Stephen Fry’s voice remained that of the narrator of LittleBigPlanet of PS Vita. He brings his charm to the game with his English accent that lends to the game’s personality.
While the story is being told about Carnivalia and the Puppeteer, the mood is set with carnival music. This is not regular carnival music, though. It is the music that you would expect to hear from a broken-down carrousel ride, that would be found in a deserted carnival. The type would allow you to visualize this once happy and exciting place, until something went terribly wrong. Its haunted and chilling feeling is like a broken lullaby that thrust Carnivalia into gloom, like a switch, as the magic began to fade.
Aside from the music, the game offers some fun sounds that complement the gameplay. When collecting a prize bubble, it makes a pop sound, followed by a crunch and a squeaky toy sound when it bursts. The sounds of the machinery operating in the background offer the realism of the stage. If you have died several times in a stage and you have just one more life to get through it, you will be alerted by a honking-type sound. While underwater, you hear the bubbles and your movements as though you are really underwater.
When the characters speak, they have very animated voices that match their personalities. They will brief the player about the perils of their world. While playing the stage, their words are jumbled and you must read the pop up to see what they are trying to tell you. It sounds like gibberish, but it seems like it is their own type of language, which draws the player into the overall experience even more. It is amusing to hear the change in their voice from pre-level play to in-level play.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is a sidescrolling platformer that allow the mechanics of the PS Vita to work extremely well in the game. To control the Sackboy, the player simply uses the left analogue stick and to jump, the player simply presses the "X" button. For a further platform, the player holds down the "X" button for a longer or higher jump. The player can also toggle between the background and foreground by pressing up and down on the left analogue stick.
Throughout the action of the levels, the player can customize Sackboy's expressions using the directional pad. For a happy Sackboy, the up arrow is pressed; for a sad expression, the bottom arrow brings about a sad puppy-dog look to Sackboy. The left arrow is pressed for a scared look and for a mad demeanor, the right arrow will do the trick. For more intensity to the looks, the player can tap the button up to three times. When the left bumper is held in, the player can then move the Sackboys hands either one at a time, or simultaneously. The left analogue will then control the Sackboy's left arm and the right analogue will control the right arm.
For further in-game customization, the square button will bring up the Popit, which is like Sackboys carry along luggage to customize him, or her, on the go! The player can optimize the experience of LittleBigPlanet PS Vita with customization. Take Sackboy and give him a taste of your personality, as he is a blank canvas for your style and flavor. The Popit includes various eyes, outfits, hair, colors, and cloth for Sackboy. Additional items to add to the Popit are collected through bubbles throughout the game. The simplicity of navigating through the Popit on the PS Vita was made possible through the system's front touch screen. The player can scroll down to view the items by dragging his/her finger down through the box. To view the various pages in the Popit, simply drag the finger from right to left to see more items. If the player finds themselves in an area that they cannot get out of, pull up the Popit and press and hold the “Try Again” icon to reappear out of the closest save point. This area also holds the collected stickers. When the player desires to place a sticker on the level, he/she simply pulls up the Popit and selects the sticker icon. To adjust the size, place two fingers on the screen and either push them together for a smaller sticker or spread them apart for a larger sticker. The player drags their finger on the screen where they want the sticker placed.
A variety of weapons are offered in the game. The Odd Rocket is fun to use. Simply use the front touch pad to tap the target and it will be hit. You can also trace a path with your finger on the screen to have the rocket follow it to its destination. You can also use the Odd Rocket to clear a path of pink slime, which will kill you if you touch it. I found the Odd Rocket extremely useful in obtaining hard to reach bubbles.
The touch controls in the game bring about an entirely different experience to the player, and a more intimate one, at that! You can still opt to use the basic controls, and bypass the touch screens, for some actions, such as accessing your Popit using the “X” button and backing out with the “O”, rather than using the Popit and touch icons on the screen.
Throughout puzzles in the game, the front touch screen can be used to move blue blocks out of the way, or to even use them to perform a function that will help Sackboy on his way. The green blocks can be pushed to the front of the screen by tapping their location with the back touch screen. Some blue blocks can be pushed to the background, as well.
All of the various moves and weapons, depending on the stage, can be utilized at the end of the level, during the boss fights. The bosses are the Hallows that the Puppeteer has created to rake havoc on the town of Carnivalia. In addition to the basic moves, the touch-screen functionalities work very well with the game and is a welcomed addition to the series.
Although, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita offers 45 levels, it was so much fun to play that it seemed like I breezed through the game. Prize bubbles that contain stickers, costumes, and items to use in the game are given to the player. Stickers can be used to complete pictures to unlock doors. Score bubbles are offered for points. Collecting five or more score bubbles in a quick succession will give the player a combo multiplier for more points. The stages can be revisited to go back and get prize bubbles that you may have missed the first time around or to up your score by getting all of the point bubbles. You will find that you will not always come out at 100% of the stage because there are certain points in the game that the player will need to access the stickers in your Popit to match them to a spot on the wall in a level. Once this is done, a hatch will open and shower the player with even more stickers and items hidden in prize bubbles. I found that the stickers I needed for these tasks were not ones that I had collected before getting to that point and revisited the levels to gain those extra points and prize bubbles. The mini-games are also quite fun and bring the player back to play just to up their points.
Part of the title’s lasting appeal will be through the level-creation itself. I found myself wanting every sticker, every decoration, and everything to be able to customize my Sackboy to my liking. I think right now it would be great to point out that costumes purchased through PlayStation Store can be used on LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, as well. The stickers and decorations are used in the level-creation section of the game, My Levels. So, to get the most satisfaction in creating your levels, it is best to collect every prize bubble you can. The touch-screen makes creating levels a breeze as you get more of a precise feel on where you want your objects to be.
Player-created stages are what always kept players coming back to LittleBigPlanet games and I expect it to be no different with the PS Vita version as well, especially with the added functionalities. The great thing about it is that yes, you do have to be online to download the levels, you can download them and play them on the go, when you do not have Wi-Fi availability.
It cannot be a proper carnival without an arcade. There is an Arcade section featured in LittleBigPlanet PS Vita that contains five different games to play. The StratoShere uses the touch screen to get a ball from point A to point B, picking up all the stars on the way. Tapling is somewhat the same type of game, except the player taps the screen to control a glowing ball and rescues the glowing caged balls on its journey. Orb-it uses nothing but the back touch screen to control a firefly from one light bulb to another, dodging red objects that can hurt you the entire time. Super Conductor has to be my favorite of the Arcade section, as it is very addictive. The player must get juice from a battery to a conductor, all while manipulating the wire directions. Some get extremely challenging. The Retro Vector is a retro type game that takes the rocket from point A to point B avoiding collisions and using the L and R buttons to use thrusters and the “X” button to fire. I found myself coming back to get every star in every level to increase my points.
The best part is, you can give the story mode a go on your own or play with some friends. There are prize bubbles that require the help of a friend, as well.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita incorporated the PS Vita’s functionalities into the franchise in a way that did not feel forced. The game handles great and looks amazing! The music and sounds fit the game and complete the experience of the levels. The new characters help bring the story to life as they give the player a look into their own stories. In other words, the story would not be complete, without hearing the story of those in it. The level creator is very easy to use and allows the players to take on the task of making a level with the added functionalities of the PS Vita. There is always something to see and something to do in the game and it is also fun to see what levels that the community uploads, as well. . LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is definitely a game that I would recommend picking up, as it a great game on-the-go, or to even curl up on the couch to play.