LittleBigPlanet Vita is a completely zero-compromise LittleBigPlanet game. It refuses to sacrifice any of what makes LBP so great with its transformation to the Vita, and feels completely natural on the system. While LBPV doesn’t revolutionize the core formula of LBP, it does have the best story mode in both level design and hilarious characters, while also implementing touch in a way that works remarkably well. It’s amazing that Double 11 has simultaneously created the best LBP game while also making the best thing on the Vita yet.
The most surprising thing about LBPV is how naturally it translates to the Vita. Its simple and familiar controls quickly become second nature. Anything that you want in an LBP game is here; gadgets, tools, visual fidelity, creation tool, and even 4-player multiplayer are there in full force. If you’ve never been into LittleBigPlanet before, LBPV isn’t going to sway you. There’s no doubt that it is the strongest game in the series, but it is more LittleBigPlanet and not much else.
In typical LBP fashion, the story consists of a new fantasy world, now Carnivalia, in danger of destruction by a fearful force, played by The Puppeteer this time around. From there you can expect to travel from world to world, each one varying from each other visually and aesthetically, and also encountering wacky characters. Although LBPV’s story is uninspired and predictable, it’s the most well done story mode yet. Each world’s level feels more cohesive than ever before, and each character encountered is well-voiced and entertaining. LBPV also puts a much larger emphasis on cutscenes than before, including more legitimate voice acting rather than gibberish with speech bubbles.
LBPV has the best use of the front and back touch screen on the Vita yet. You can interact with objects directly in the world, like holding down a block and letting go to act as a springboard or extruding platforms to run across. These simple implementations inevitably become more complex, but it never becomes intrusive or annoying because the game never requires twitch-accuracy. You can always take it slow and take your hand off of the screen. It’s also a nice touch that back touch blocks and front touch blocks are different colors and have specific features that make them easy to point out. But LBPV’s touch features venture far beyond platforming implementations.
Apart from the core LittleBigPlanet story levels; Double 11 has included an extra pack of standalone games that have nothing to do with LBP, called the Arcade. Each game takes advantage of one of LBPV’s biggest new features, the Memorizer, which now allows you to create a level in which the player can save progress to return to later. Not only are the games are very simple and serve as an entertaining distraction; they also serve as inspiration for what people could do in the creative mode.
A lot of LBPV’s creative mode is unchanged, though there are a few important new features like the Memorizer. The addition of touch significantly changes the flow of creating. Shapes can be reshaped and moved with two fingers. If you drag a finger while forming landscape, it really helps you to make small details. For those who are very much used to the classic creation controls, you can still use two sticks instead. There are also a slew of new in-depth tutorials to delve into, all voiced by the wonderful Stephen Fry, of course. Seriously though, the tutorials can get insane, which makes me all the more amazed at the things that the community has already made, and what it will eventually come up with. For every LBP game to date, the community has found ways to surpass the creativity of the included levels. If this is to stay true with LBPV, I can’t wait to see what the community will come up with, because we have big shoes to fill.
The game also adds multiplayer into the mix, unlike its PSP cousin from years past. Using the on board microphone and keyboard on the Vita makes it much easier to communicate with people you’re playing, especially when playing with headphones. It also seems (as early as it is) that server fidelity is much better than in the past LBP games. It can sometimes get confusing when figuring out who should activate a touch-compatible object when any of the four players have the ability to. I only ever had a few hitches, and when I did it had more to do with my proximity to the wireless adapter in my house. Assuming you have a good internet connection, multiplayer on LBPV is a ton of fun.
The soundtrack in LBP games have always been fantastic, and LBPV is no exception. This time around the soundtrack focuses much more on ambient tunes that do a fantastic job of establishing atmosphere. Not to mention that you can create music using a simple sequencer while making a level, which has already led to some really cool tunes in some community levels I’ve seen thus far.
While we have yet to see the true potential of the community in LPBV, I’m extremely excited to see what in the world people are going to think up. Being that it’s on the Vita, coming back to the game every once in a while to see what’s new in the Community section is easier and more convenient than ever. For those without a 3G Vita (like myself) have the opportunity to download any community level for offline use, which is easily one of the smartest things they could’ve done.
Who would’ve thought that more LittleBigPlanet on a more convenient system was all that was required to make the best LBP yet? With how poorly LBPV could’ve turned out being attached to a different developer and the potential of sacrifices on the Vita, it’s all that more amazing that they pulled it off. It’s not going change the mind of anyone who’s never enjoyed the floaty platforming of Sackboy, but will completely satisfy the fans. Pick it up, because it’s the best the best thing on Vita to date.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita gets a 5/5