The LittleBigPlanet beta ended last Sunday, and though I only got in on it towards the tail end, I did spend a decent amount of time on it. Considering it’s probably the most interesting thing to happen to 2D platforming on consoles this side of Mega Man 9, I’m shocked it hasn’t gotten more love ’round these parts, what with our affinity for those kinds of things. You guys are so lucky to have me blogging up here.
[[image: ar_101508_lbp_01.jpg:Not pictured — pirate pants.:center:0]]
Personally, I was sold on it the moment Sony unveiled it. Something about Sackboy just clicked, in the same way Disney and Nintendo characters become instant icons. Now that I’ve spent some time with the game, I can confirm that it’s even more charming than I previously thought (and having every little thing narrated by Stephen Fry doesn’t hurt, either). The animation is particularly impressive, and the little touches –- changing your Sackboy’s expressions on the fly, the fact that he lip-syncs anything you say into the mic, or being able to control each of his arms independently for no reason other than you can -– all brought a huge smile to my face. And since everything in this post-Mii world is about personalizing your avatar, you can choose everything from your Sackboy’s color to his eyes and mouth, to his entire outfit (which I’ve heard will have tons and tons of costume pieces in the actual game; I had to make due with a huge mustache and pirate pants in the demo).
But how does it play? Well, to be honest, the jumping is a bit floatier than I prefer in my platformers, but I got used to it fairly quickly. The mechanics seem to lend themselves better to physics-based platforming (grabbing and swinging things, using weight and momentum to topple over obstacles) rather than fast, pixel-perfect jumping (think Mega Man here), but now that I’ve had my hands on it, I can see why: it works much better with four people playing. Try to imagine playing Mega Man 9 with three other people also jumping around; it would be infinitely frustrating when one person missed a jump and you all had to wait for him. It seems like Sackboy’s light nature was an intentional choice to encourage making levels to play with others, and the developer-created stages in the beta confirm this, focusing much more on pushing and pulling things together, with some areas only accessible with the weight of multiple people.
[[image: ar_101508_lbp_02.jpg:Yes, there are jet packs, and they are awesome.:center:0]]
Not to say you can’t make levels like your favorite old school platformers; they’d just be more fun as a single-player experience. Everything from God of War to Castlevania (Talking Time’s own Morbid Coffee crafted a stunning rendition of Castlevania II) has already been created by users. It’s pretty clichéd to say so at this point, but LittleBigPlanet really does make level design incredibly easy to do. Believe everything you’ve read about it; the game deserves all the praise it can get for making something this expansive so user-friendly. You can literally make anything, from mine carts to giant controllable robots to airships. I didn’t feel limited, either; you can make some truly massive levels, should you so be inclined. If you’ve ever liked any 2D platformer, give it a try. Best-case scenario, you’ll fall in love; worst case, you roll up your sleeves and make the game you want to play.
Me? I won’t rest until I have the full version and create the most adorable version of Urban Champion ever made.