October 3, 2012

Touching is Good

Lasting First Impressions of Little Big Planet for PS VITA

Developed by Double Eleven & Tarsier Studios

LBP Vita Boxart» Little Big Planet PS Vita is the fourth outing of Sackboy and his second on a mobile platform.  And I have them all.  Little Big Planet started out as a great platformer that allowed players to create and share their own levels which number over a million.  Then LBP2 came along and changed everything when the game would actually allow players to create and share, not just levels, but whole new games.  It was fantastic.  Now, enter Little Big Planet for the PS Vita and we have more adventures of Sackboy and more opportunities for players to, you guessed it, create and share their own levels and games, from anywhere.

I’m sure by this point you all know what Little Big Planet itself is, so I won’t go into a review of the general gameplay save for what was new to the PS Vita version.  Although it wasn’t developed by the original LBP developers, Media Molecule, the game is a perfect first entry on the PS Vita platform.  It is everything you’d expect from this game, bright toy-like images and cardboard creations, humorous narrator, wonderful puzzles, but with all the new bells and whistles made available by the new hardware.

LBP Vita Screen

Having played the original titles that were controller-based only, my immediate reaction was to play the game as I normally would.  Unfortunately, or fortunately as the case may be, this game wasn’t designed to just be played.  It was designed to be touched.  It likes to be touched.  Touching is good.  There are many new features added to LBP Vita that require the player to move objects on the screen with their finger.  This feature is actually very cool and, as one would expect from LBP, the objects react with real physics as they are moved.  Some objects, while not movable, are meant to be touched to release the collectable bubbles in order to finish a level with 100% completeness.  I didn’t discover this until my daughter was playing through a level I had already played when I spotted a guitar so I reached out and touched the guitar strings.  To our surprise, this released some bubbles that were previously undiscovered.  After this, we found ourselves wanting to touch everything in the background to see what it did.  Other touch mechanics include spinning wheels that Sackboy is grabbing onto in order to propel him up to a higher level, or moving walls out of his way to create a path to travel.  Even tilting the Vita will make Sackboy look up and down. A fairly useless feature but fun, nonetheless, and still keeps with the joy of animating Sackboy yourself like your own personal puppet.  Puppet.  Popit.  Heh.  I get it now.

LBP Vita Screen 2

Although I have not come across any uses of the back touch panel yet, I understand there are uses for it, but Little Big Planet for PS Vita is a wonderful new way of taking Sackboy out on the road.  Visually it has the same look and feel as the PlayStation 3 counterparts although, since Sackboy is considerably smaller on the Vita, the costume changes aren’t always perfectly clear.  Additionally, while I love the new touch controls, the constant back and forth from the control stick to the screen can be a little cumbersome.  The screen is just a little too large to rely solely on using your thumbs for the touch screen portions.

Regardless of these small issues, I thoroughly enjoyed returning to LBP and my daughter and I had a great time playing the game together. Little Big Planet Vita still allows for online multiplayer and many levels will require you to join a friend to achieve full completion.  Additionally, there is a pass-and-play mode which are perfect for sharing the game with a friend or loved one.

Ultimately, Little Big Planet Vita is everything a new entry in this series should be, perfectly suited to the platform it was created for.

Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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