As a series, LittleBigPlanet launched on the Playstation 3 and changed the way we would look at platform gaming with their “Play, Share, Create” approach. Undoubtedly a key franchise within Sony nowadays, LittleBigPlanet has brought a rejuvination to a genre that had become stagnant and far swept from the heyday of quality titles such as Crash Bandicoot or Spyro The Dragon. I was lucky enough to aquire access to the LittleBigPlanet beta for the Playstation Vita, and even though the levels available from the creators were limited, they made a lasting impression on this player.
As with all things beta, the following could change before release and this is in no way a representation of what could be the final product. Luckily, we’re greeted to a screen as we log in which tells us this and it was too awesome looking not to share.
Once I had loaded up into the beta, two things became apparent instantly
- The Pod was back for all your customization needs and to act as the main menu of the game, reflecting on the same style from previous incarnations of LittleBigPlanet.
- There was no Stephen Fry narration available on the beta.
With regards to the second point, it is still unconfirmed whether Stephen Fry will be doing narration or not for LittleBigPlanet vita, but he has been recording for an upcoming project regarding the LittleBigPlanet franchise.
The Pod gives us access to our story, community and options. It is almost identical to the PS3 version and as such brings about a familiarity, whilst still keeping it simple for newcomers to the franchise.
In the beta we were allowed access to two story missions named “The Mainframe Heist” and “Flounder’s Jump and Jive”. “The Mainframe Heist” follows the more traditional LittleBigPlanet level incorporating everything that the Vita version has to offer. It is set in a Sci-Fi world containing a mainframe that has gone wild and it is up to our sackboy to save the day.
Throughout this level, we are introducted to the control scheme of LittleBigPlanet Vita. It felt alot more realistic and fluid compared to other games within the franchise, while keeping a control pattern similar to the console versions. For example, the R shoulder button on the Vita enabled our Sackboy to grab onto something to drag, pull or climb with. The integration of the touchscreen is simply beautiful as it is seemless and feels like it should be there and that the level would feel inferior without it. In this level we used the touchscreen to push blocks into the wall, use switches and push ledges out from the wall to help navigate what was a long level.
In “Flounder’s Jump and Jive”, we are treated to a Racing level similar to those on the console versions, particularly the ones you do throughout the course of a level in LittleBigPlanet 1. Through the fast use of controls and touch screen, it gives us a fast and thrilling experience that does not dissappoint.
In the beta we also got access to two other features within the Beta mode from the developers. We were treated to a multiplayer level where the object of the game was to shoot and destroy the enemy players with your tank. The person with the highest score wins. Despite it being a big laggy due to poor Nat connections of the people I was playing, it was a simple and easy aspect with a lot of fun mixed in.
I also got access to a mini game called Taplings. The object of this was to control your Tapling to navigate through levels and free white Taplings while avoiding death. The art work and style are a huge contrast to the bright and colourful scenes from LittleBigPlanet, but they allowed for a tone that fit the mini game quite well. I found myself playing this alot once I had finished the story type levels as it has alot of appeal and charm. Gameplay was simple as you tapped where you wanted your tapling to go and it would jump to that point. Difficult increased as you went through levels and were introduced to different surfaces such as blue bounce pads that could be used to gain higher ground and purple sticky walls that the Tapling could attach itself to.
As with any LittleBigPlanet though, it drives on community based levels. I am pleased to say that within the beta there were an abundance of quality levels on par with the quality we have seen on the console versions. It is also easier to to create levels as the toolset is easier to manage with the use of the Vita’s touchscreen to resize, rotate and place objects. Users can also import images that they have saved on their vita to be used in their custom levels, bringing in another method of creating unique and exciting levels.
The closed beta of LBP Vita was exciting and I was saddened to see it end. With its smooth control scheme and well integrated touch screen controls, it is a perfect match for the Playstation Vita. The levels that we were treated to were an exciting preview of what I believe will be best and most creative LittleBigPlanet to date.