First let me start off by saying that if you’ve ever played a LittleBigPlanet game before, you know exactly what you’re getting into. You play as Sackboy (one of the cutest gaming characters in recent history) and are tasked with stopping an evil villain from sucking the joy from the earth, creating your own levels, and exploring the thousands of user-created levels in Community. Like I said, if you’re at all familiar with the franchise, you won’t be met with any surprises.
But what makes LBP Vita so great and original is that it just feels great on the Vita. Tarsier Studios perfectly meshes the franchise’s signature look and play style with great portable goodness, that ends up in what I think is the best LittleBigPlanet experience yet. From the way it fits on the screen, to the great touch-controls, LittleBigPlanet Vita is one of the franchises best entries.
The story this time around takes place in a world called Carnivalia, in which a disgraced puppeteer begins sucking the joy from not only the playful world, but of earth as well. And it’s up to you, as Sackboy, to stop him.
As outlandish as it is, the story for LBP Vita is a joy to play through. And even though it’s not an incredible tale, the colorful characters and hilarious voice-acting keep you entertained and interested. This is the first time in LBP history that I have actually been both involved and excited by the story, even if it doesn’t really go anywhere.
One of the new features here is the Arcade mode. As you play through the story, you’ll unlock a new arcade game every time you finish one of colorful themed chapters. These really change-up the gameplay, and look nothing like your average LBP games. In fact, they could be counted as their own complete games, albeit small ones.
And being incredibly fun and varied, they offer tons of extra content to play through after you complete the campaign, which is good because the story took me just a few hours to complete.
But who really plays LittleBigPlanet for it’s story? The real hook here is the gameplay, and let me happily tell you that it is incredibly fun and amusing. Once again, if you are at all familiar with the franchise, you know what you’re getting here. You progress through the story and user-created levels by jumping, swinging, and running your way through a 2D world, collecting bubbles and looking adorable.
It is very similar to it’s other counterparts, but I believe it be even more enjoyable on the Vita than anywhere else. The game fits perfectly on the Vita’s beautiful screen, and the touch controls add a refreshing change to the familiar formula. Interacting with the game’s environment by using the front and rear-touch pads are done elegantly, and most importantly, not over-used.
I really feel like developers have found the sweet-spot when it comes to the Vita’s touch controls, and LBP Vita is the best example of this.
One of my biggest problems with game however, comes from the Create mode. Easily being the backbone of the game, I would’ve loved to see Tarsier Studios enhance the user-friendliness of the creation tools. On top of the camera, which has a habit of flipping out in Create mode, it remains very difficult to design anything that doesn’t scream amateur.
Unless you have hours and hours to devote to learning how everything works, you’ll spend most of your time playing other people’s creation rather than designing your own.
I’m not saying the Create mode is bad, many of the features from LBP 2 are back, meaning the hardcore LittleBigPlanet gamer will have plenty of great tools at their disposal to create some truly magnificent levels. And having spent a lot of time in the LBP Community, I can say there are some great designers out there, and I can say that if you work at it, great things can be done in Create mode.
The real thing to know however, is that LBP Vita rocks. It’s got great gameplay, pretty graphics, hilarious characters, and a deep Create mode for the dedicated fan. And although I wish some aspects were easier for the casual player to grasp, LittleBigPlanet Vita offers hours upon hours of fun, and anyone that owns a Vita should check it out.
Story: 8/10 – A bizarre, crazy story filled with funny and colorful characters. But it’s really just the catalyst that lets you collect the hundreds of bubbles and unlockables.
Gameplay: 9/10 – If you’ve ever played LittleBigPlanet, you know what’s coming. Fun, fast-paced gameplay that is both entertaining and exciting. I do wish the controls were a little more refined, but that doesn’t detract much from the overall experience.
Presentation: 9/10 – With colorful environments, easy to navigate menus, and tons of charm, LBP Vita oozes with presentation galore. And outside of some overly long load times, you always feel connected to the game and it’s world.
Graphics:9/10 – The graphics are colorful and fun, but lack the punch that would make it reference quality. Overall though, the game looks great and really brings life to the many worlds.
Replay Value: 9.5/10 – After you beat the more than 40 story levels, you have the numerous arcade modes, versus levels, and thousands of user-created levels to keep you entertained. Back it all up with a deep Create mode, and you have hours upon hours of enjoyment stemming from this game.