Sackboy is back, and this time he’s brought friends in Sony’s LittleBigPlanet 3. The third iteration of the incredibly charming side-scroller/every other game genre originally developed by Media Molecule, and here crafted by Sumo Digital, continues the streak of a simple and gorgeous game, with layers upon layers of subtext for player creativity.
The story of LittleBigPlanet 3 is a classic video game trope. On the moon of Bunkum, a trio of evil titans began to suck up all of the creativity. Three guardians rose up and defeated the titans, sealing them away (in a tin tea can), thereby restoring the creativity to the denizens of Bunkum. The guardians then went into hiding until they would be needed once again. Now, a mad little creature named Newton (voiced by Hugh Laurie) with delusions of grandeur has released the titans — tricking Sackboy into doing it, actually — and now Sackboy has to locate and awaken the three guardians to recapture and reseal the titans away for good.
As you might have guessed, the three guardians are in fact the three new playable characters in LittleBigPlanet 3. Odd Sock is a dog-like creature who can run fast and climb on walls; Swoop is a bird, who can soar to new heights and carry objects; and Toggle, or in this case, Big Toggle — which uses his size and weight to open pathways, and Little Toggle — who, as you can imagine, can use his smaller size to reach new areas and can even walk on water. These guardians add a new wrinkle to the game play, as once they are awoken, the player can switch freely between the characters at designated swap ports. The new characters and their abilities gives the player a level of puzzle solving not seen before in a LittleBigPlanet game.
There are also new tools which include the hook hat and pumpinator, which is a gun that can suck or blow to help move items and blocks, and even a helmet that can shoot Sackboy balls into warp tiles so the player can get to new areas. Additional tools can even be created by players, which includes all of the tool and enhancements from the previous games. All in all, over 60 tools can be created.
There is still a huge emphasis placed on working with others to solve the game’s levels. I personally prefer to play alone, but to find every sticker bubble, I am fully aware that I need help. The story mode here is a little short, but of course, Sumo Digital — like Media Molecule before them — have given players so much more to do once the story adventure is wrapped up (provided that players collect 100% on each level, which is difficult in and of itself).
The biggest and best feature of LittleBigPlanet 3 is that it is 100 percent backwards compatible with the previous games in the series. So, right out of the box, any costumes that were previously purchased or created and saved, work here, and in the LittleBigCommunity, there are over 9 million user-created levels. No other game on the market can boast that, from day one, there are over nine million levels in the game. And yes, some of the user-created levels and game are garbage, but a player voted rating system tells the player which of the levels are worth playing. And let me tell you, there are some incredibly creative folks out in the imagisphere.
Level/game creation has also been expanded in LittleBigPlanet 3. Instead of only three layers to build with, LBP3 has a whopping 16 layers. And with every sticker, shape, item and whatever else from the entirety of the series at your disposal, the creative sky is certainly the limit.
For the first time ever, LittleBigPlanet 3 is fully voice acted. Every character that Sackboy comes in contact with has a voice, which is very welcome. Some of the new character designs are also incredibly inspired. In one level, we meet Marlon Random, an actor (voiced by Nolan North), whose face is made up of a roll of film and his bouffant hair style is unspooled acetate. An actor character made up entirely of film stock is a great idea, and is just a small sample of how creative the developers of LBP3 are.
The music also plays a huge role in LittleBigPlanet 3. This game has the best soundtrack since the PSP version of LittleBigPlanet, which had one of the best game soundtracks ever. LBP3 even uses more licensed songs than ever before, including a haunting version of “I Only Have Eyes For You,” made famous by The Flamingoes in the 1950s. That song is played on a loop over a level where Sackboy visits “space” (or the engine of a 1950s sedan), and it had me humming it for days after finishing the level.
The biggest drawback I have with the game is in how Sumo Digital failed to utilize the DualShock 4 controller more. In fact, for a series that always looked the best on last gen, the jump to new gen isn’t that much different. Sure, it’s in native 1080p at 60 fps, as opposed to the 720p of the PS3, but LittleBigPlanet has never been about flash. Sackboy is a dude made up from knitted yarn, not cold steel and hydraulics. The levels are made up of everyday items, like posters, empty papertowl tubes, spools of thread, and old toys. Visuals are not a draw here, so the only thing that could propel this to a true new gen title would be by using the features of the PS4, and sadly, Sumo failed. It’s not a game breaker, by any means, but it is a missed opportunity.
LittleBigPlanet 3 retains all of the charm of its predecessors, and adds so much more to the LBP world with the addition of Odd Sock, Swoop, and Toggle. Access to 9 million user-created levels/games and more opportunities to flex the player’s creativity makes the game a must-have for fans of platformers, racing games, fighting games, and so much more. And that truly is the best part of each LittleBigPlanet game. So much variety, delivered with inspired graphics and character models and level design, and a bustling community of imaginative creators makes LittleBigPlanet 3 a game of so many infinite possibilities. Kind of like imagination itself.
LittleBigPlanet 3 was reviewed on PS4 and furnished by Sony for the purposes of this review. It is available now for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.
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