Developer: Tarsier Studios
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Platform: PlayStation Vita
Media Molecule’s darling franchise gets handed off to Tarsier Studios for its PS Vita iteration. From the game’s start you can tell that, though the developer may have changed, the whimsy of the fabrically inclined platformer has not deteriorated. Indeed, it may have even increased in splendor.
The LittleBigPlanet series loves to start its games with a luxuriously-crafted opening trailer where stickers, thought bubbles and people in dreamlike states mix together to give birth to the Imagisphere and within that, Carnivalia.
The fairground world is where we find our customizable sack people this time around. It’s a fitting place for things made of felt and buttons. A perfect place actually. Again, we are up against a maniacal evil that threatens to ruin the world. In LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, we contend with the Puppeteer, the once jovial artist who has become Carnivalia’s tormentor by way of an errant “Boo!”
That’s kind of an overreaction.
LittleBigPlanet does little to deviate from the franchise’s key ingredients. Score bubbles make that satisfying pop once you accrue them, grabbing objects and dragging them into place is a cinch, and we can still customize most everything from levels, to Sackboy, and even our Pod, which serves as a homebase inbetween the antics of Carnivalia.
These mainstays ensure that anyone coming from the PlayStation 3 will feel right at home.
For those who are fresh-faced and new to the series, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita has a comprehensive tutorial that does a good job of staying fun. As you learn new mechanics, the game takes you through small obstacle courses that culminate into more difficult challenges.
While the game loses the ease and fun of couch co-op, it does include multiplayer over the Internet and with any friends who may have a Vita. The game encourages cooperativeness more than it does competitiveness. You’ll find levels with marked-off sections designed with a buddy (or buddies) in mind. LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is best enjoyed with friends, and if you’re the type to agonize over every prize bubble in the game, then you’ll have to seek your fortune with others playing the game.
Playing online is seamless. I can’t speak for the 3G connectivity since I didn’t opt to pay for that service but I can say that vanilla Internet worked well. My only gripe would be when someone jumped in while I was grappling around or mid-jump. The game jumps to a quick loading screen when you gain more players for co-op. This has the effect of killing you while you were a few jumps away from acing the level.
That said, I’m glad that one of the best parts of LittleBigPlanet (its easy online connectivity) remains a big part of LittleBigPlanet PS Vita.
The game’s new control features are basic in function but they make total sense. You’ll be able to drag select objects around the field, akin to how you could in Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves. You can also do some z-axis voodoo by pushing objects into and out of the background with the front and rear touch areas. Pushing on the rear touch pad also shows a helpful circle indicating where your errant finger is. It’s a simple touch that’s well appreciated. Once you get your gun helmet, a quick tap on the screen indicates where you want your missiles to go, while holding down on the screen will allow you to fine-tune your projectile’s path.
Speaking of the minigames, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is popping with them. You have the standard survival minigames, but there’s also inventive ones that make use of the console’s ability to go into a vertical viewing angle. Now there’s something you can’t do on LittleBigPlanet 2 for the PS3.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita has the fortune of being very cross-compatible with the costumes and accessories from the previous games. This is no surprise considering Tarsier Studios has worked on LittleBigPlanet DLC in the past. When I loaded up my Vita, I was able to go to the Community planet and select the downloadable packs that I have from the first two games. Can’t leave home without my Patapon costume.
It’s very easy to draw similarities between LittleBigPlanet PS Vita and its cousins on the the big screen. If it weren’t for the all-new storyline (which is as fun and inventive as you’d expect), I’d say this is a perfect port of the console experience to the Vita. And it’s at this point where I expect some bickering.
The game is a great rendition of stuffing-laden sack people thwarting evil through equally simple and challenging platform-game objectives. Gameplay-wise, that’s it though. It can only be as great as the game that came before it. It nails that mark but it’s something that isn’t new. The most novel part about it is that it’s experienced in a very convenient portable package that loses none of the online features. Story and aesthetic-wise, it’s impossible to find fault in the game. Truly, truly impossible.
As I look back on my time with the game, I can’t help but think that it’s just as necessary to have in a Vita gamer’s collection as the original games are for the PS3. If you’re wanting true LittleBigPlanet on-the-go, rest easy knowing that LittleBigPlanet PS Vita wholly delivers.