There comes a time in the life of every game system where the perfect game finally comes along and proves that there is a reason for the game system’s very existence. The Nintendo (NES) had The Legend of Zelda. The PlayStation had Final Fantasy VII. The N64 had Ocarina of Time. The Xbox had Halo. These games all exemplified the power and the features of the game system, and each system went on to achieve greatness.
For the newest game system on the market, the PlayStation Vita, the time has finally come for its first great game. And that game is LittleBigPlanet PS Vita.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is the fourth game in the franchise that began life on the PS3 in 2008. Each year after, Media Molecule (and/or friends) have released a new version for each of Sony’s systems. The PSP got a version in 2009. LittleBigPlanet 2 was released on the PS3 in 2010, and a new version of LBP 2 with PS Move controls was released in 2011.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita does little to change the successful formula of its predecessors. It is still primarily a side-scrolling adventure, and you do still control a character made primarily of knitted yarn and stuffing. The art direction is still beautiful in every facet, and the voice acting – especially Stephen Fry’s narration – is incredible. The true beauty of the game – and the series – is in the creative presentation, and the call for the player to be equally creative.
The new features in LBP PS Vita are designed to really show off the myriad control schemes that the PS Vita offers. There are a few games that utilize the touch screens, either the front, back, or both, to enhance the gameplay, but not like this. LittleBigPlanet PS Vita integrates the touch features to actually mean something in the game. It doesn’t feel tacked on at all, and fits the overall feature pool much like the grapple hook or jet pack did in previous games. Blue boxes can be moved or adjusted by using the front touchscreen; green boxes use the rear touchscreen. And using these features is a must to help Sackboy find all of the hidden stickers and complete the level.
And while the PS Vita’s built in gyroscopic motion controls are used to control Sackboy’s head movement (which does ZERO for gameplay in Story mode), the controls are used heavily in the mini-game and competition levels, sometimes to near perfection.
It is safe to say that LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is the first game to really – and truly – show off the PS Vita’s features and not make it feel like a gimmick. That speaks volumes for what developers Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios have been able to accomplish with this game.
In LBP PS Vita, there is a “story” mode that makes up the game’s 40+ levels. The narrative follows an evil Puppeteer who is draining the world of Carnivalia of its creativity, and Sackboy, along with a handful of creatively colorful mentors, are tasked to stop him. Also, up to four friends can play levels together, either in competition or to assist in finding every sticker.
But when the player isn’t scouring each level for hidden stickers or trying to better their completion scores, there is always something else to do. Included this time around is a unique “Arcade” world that allows players to play simple, iOS-like games. There are five full games located in the Arcade, and each game is unlocked after each of the Story worlds are conquered.
And if that wasn’t enough, there are the two other game modes that truly separate LBP PS Vita from any other game on the market: Community world and the Creation Moon.
The Creation Moon allows the player to truly create their own levels, and now create complete games. Once the level/game is ready, it can then be published to the Community world, where thousands of players worldwide then play the level/game and comment. This is where LBP PS Vita explodes with awesomeness. Even though there are 40 game levels in the story mode, right now, as you read this, brand new, user-created levels are being added to the already published 3,800 levels in the game. What other game is there on the market that can boast almost 4,000 (and counting) levels to play? And if quality is something you worry about, don’t. Particularly bad levels/games don’t last long, as enough negative reviews can get the levels/games removed. But wait, there is more. So much more.
For the first time in a LBP game, creators now have the ability to create a “save” in their created games. The feature is called The Memorizer, and it essentially allows the creator to offer the player save spots. In so doing, the creator can now expand their vision from a simple level to a full-on, time-devouring game. We’re not talking Angry Birds – Sackboy edition, we are talking Final Fantasy-like epics of 50-60-70 hours. The possibilities are endless. And having played some pretty incredible user-created levels, the sky is the limit to what these creative folks can do with a feature like The Memorizer.
Level/game creation is also made so much easier with the PS Vita’s controls. To be able to place objects with touch, and to shrink and grow with pinch movements, allow for levels to be generated more quickly than in past LBP games. In fact, this is where the front touch screen really shines. I could not even imagine trying to generate an aforementioned 50+ hour epic using the imprecise controls of the dual shock’s analog sticks. But somehow, using the touch screen to flick, flip, resize, and scroll all with my fingers is a godsend. And this is why LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is the de facto game for the PS Vita system. The Vita and LBP were made for one another.
While LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is arguably the perfect PS Vita game, there are some very minor issues present. The music this time around isn’t as catchy as in previous games. The art direction and overall writing of the LBP series has always benefited from catchy pop tunes, and most the songs in LBP Vita are orchestra pieces. It’s a very minor gripe, but annoyed me enough to mention it.
The LiveArea features the usual owner’s manual and browser link. As you progress through the game, the current “next” level is also added to the LiveArea allowing the player to jump right back in where they left off. There is also a button to jump into a group playing a previously downloaded level. Kudos to the developers for using the LiveArea in LBP PS Vita in a unique and practical way.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is by far the best game on the PlayStation Vita game system. This is a game that should have been a launch title, as it truly exemplifies what the PS Vita system offers the casual gamer. Levels can be conquered in short bursts, which makes the portability of the system an asset, and the game also utilizes both Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity so new levels can be downloaded and played virtually anywhere on the planet.
With new levels uploaded daily, there is also always something new in LittleBigPlanet PS Vita. Plus, all previously purchased costumes and items are 100% compatible with this game and the upcoming LittleBigPlanet Karting game.
LittleBigPlanet and PlayStation Vita were made for one another, and LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is as much of a must-buy for the PS Vita as any new Zelda game is for Nintendo. Maybe now, the PS Vita can start to shine, and gamers will see the beauty and magic contained in this incredible game system.
Shop for LittleBigPlanet PS Vita for a discounted price at Amazon.com (September 25, 2012 release date).