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First Impressions: Little Big Planet Vita

Little Big Planet has made it’s way to the Vita. As usual it’s wacky, random and a bundle of fun. However, it’s starting to lose that originality that we saw in the first game. The story levels have that “we have seen this before” feel about them but in contrast is the online community which is as diverse as ever.

Let’s start with the single player story. It’s childish and funny filled with peculiar characters and varied level design. The Puppeteer is wrecking havoc upon the land as he brings toys to life, as hollows, which go about causing mischief and destruction. It is up to you, Sackboy, to stop the madness. As with every Little Big Planet the story makes no real sense or purpose, but that can be to either someone’s taste or not.

What I’ve found with the story so far, I’m on the final few levels, is that it feels shorter than the other LBP games and the whole structure is similar to what we have seen before. The level design, although still varied, feels the same to LBP 2’s levels. At one point I thought I was playing in Avalonia from the story of LBP 2. It feels far too similar for my liking to the previous iterations of the series. With that being said new game mechanics do provide something new.

The level which reminded me of Avalonia from LBP2. 

The Vita’s front and back touch screen’s have added new possibilities to LBP’s game mechanics. You can move objects (which appear blue) on the screen using your fingers, and swipe obstacles (which appear green) out of the way with the rear touch pad. It’s implemented well and works smoothly; the colour coding helps to figure out whether to use the front or rear pads which is a nice touch, if you pardon the pun. What’s more is that at certain points during the game you are required to use the touch pads and control sack boy at the same, which can be a bit challenging at first. Motion controls are also included, which involve the titling of your Vita, but these actions haven’t really popped up much during single player.

I’ve also noticed that there are a lot more vehicle based levels. Whilst it is a nice change some of the vehicles don’t feel quite finished in their development. These are the ones which require touch controls to navigate them which is really frustrating. For people with large hands one little slip of a finger on your Vita could lead to you cruising your vehicle to death. Other vehicle based levels though are great fun, they work well and you will find yourself wanting to replay them.

The games visual capabilities do not look any different to the console versions of the game which is great to see. The different textures look wonderful from the crackling fire embers to soft grab able sponges. The water physics show no difference as well. So it certainly cannot be criticised on it’s visuals and presentation.

Blue objects can be moved with your fingers using the touch screen. 

The community side of Little Big Planet is the proportion of the game which really is something special. Community built levels are in their thousands. The imagination of LBP players is so diverse and random that it had lead to the creation of a never ending list of levels to play through. Want to see how long you can last standing on a plane whilst it rains cows? Or even play a Tetris inspired mini game? Well if the answers yes look no further than LBP Vita’s community levels.

It’s remarkable how people even create these levels, but thankfully it is to the advantage of online players that people have such skills in Create mode. Create mode is basically exactly the same to that of LBP 2’s but with the addition to build in motion and touch mechanics to the level.

This play, create, share philosophy has been a huge success in the LBP series and in this new Vita game it is still as wonderful as ever. I expect LBP Vita to be a thriving online community for a long while.

As first impressions go LBP Vita is up there with the most encouraging. The single player, although loosing it’s originality in level design, has been great fun so far made better with the new gameplay mechanics of touch and motion. More impressive has been the online community which I look forward to diving into…literally. Expect a full review in the coming weeks once I have explored all there is in Little Big Planet Vita.