LittleBigPlanet is a very important franchise for Sony and rightly so. It's the godfather of Play, Create, Share and also something a little different in a gaming world full of clones and lack of innovation. Media Molecule's creation handed power to the player, allowing them to create their own game - be it alone or with other players. LBP is a huge game, packed with a story mode, community levels and of course, the create mode, which in itself is full of all the tools you need to share your ideas with the world. All of this means that translating this brilliant series onto the Vita was never going to be easy, however here we are, looking at what could be the system's biggest and best game yet.
LittleBigPlanet Vita is a brilliant achievement, it takes everything you know about both the first and second game and somehow crams these onto Sony's handheld. Literally all the tools you've used in the console games are here, along with some new innovations and a brand new story mode which has been created specifically for the Vita. It may not be stretching things too far to say that this is the best LittleBigPlanet yet.
Taking a backwards step from my lavish praise of the game, we'll hit rewind just a little and I'll tell you why I think so highly of the work of both Tarsier and Double Eleven - the developers behind this particular project.
As with any game, the best place to start is with the Story Mode. Packing in five worlds, each with around nine levels, here you are guided through the world of the Carnivalia. The story tells the tale of the once gentle entertainer, the Puppeteer, who has turned evil, casting his faceless creatures known as the Hollows upon the land to cause chaos and destruction. This is where you come in; playing as Sackboy you'll traverse through the various lands, restoring order by climbing, collecting and swinging your way through the environments.
The beauty of the story mode on PS Vita is that it's been completely designed with Sony's handheld in mind - this is no lazy port - it's unique, original and full of fun. As you play through each of the levels you'll constantly find new mechanics which take advantage of the Vita's numerous features. The features unique to Vita include using the touchscreen and rear touch-panel to push and pull platforms, while you'll also make use of the gyroscope to tilt your way across the screen to otherwise unreachable platforms. There are also plenty of gadgets along the way, most of which are unique to the LBP Vita's story mode. These gadgets include a helmet known as the Odd Rocket, which allows you to fire a finger-guided rocket; Grabinators, a glove which allows you to grab any item you wish, such as bombs or large objects and there is also a new material, which you can stick things to, allowing you to grab on and go along for the ride. The story mode is full of surprises, each more pleasing than the next.
Another great thing about the story mode is that it's just so diverse. One minute you're jumping from one platform to the next, trying to avoid the countless amount of hazards along the way, while at other times you're driving a vehicle; flying or just taking on one of the many end of level bosses, each of which provide a challenge in themselves. Some levels even have level links, making them even larger than meets the eye.
One of the most pleasing aspects about the game in general is that it's completely connected. This means that you can play through any of the story mode levels with an online friend, while you can also post challenges at the end of each level, urging friends to defeat your score - but that's not all. Within each of the story levels, you'll also unlock mini games, much like you can in LBP Vita's console counterpart. Obviously, these unlocks have been tailored for the Vita, therefore you'll find yourself playing mini-games such as Air-Hockey, Boxing and all other manner or games, each just as fun as the last. Games such as Air-Hockey and Boxing are particularly fun as they can be played locally with two players, with each player taking control using one side of the Vita.
As you play through the Story Mode you'll also find that you unlock games within the Arcade mode - a brand new addition for LBP Vita. The Arcade mode provides five titles, all of which are good enough to be call games within their own right. The best way I can describe these titles is that they are like PS Minis for LBP Vita. Games include the likes of Retro Vector, a space invader style game, which has you trying to reach a vortex, while trying to rescue astronauts and at the same time, use the least amount of fuel possible; Semi Conductor, which has you trying to restore power in a connect-the-pipes style puzzler and Tapling, which has you guiding a blob around some dimly lit levels, trying to rescue captured creatures along the way. The main aim of Tapling and the other Arcade titles is to gain three stars by ace-ing each level. These levels don't seem to be as connected as the rest, however that's probably because they are made with short bursts of fun in mind.
Given all of the features and fun packed into the story mode, you'd be forgiven for thinking that perhaps the developer had watered down the Create and Share side of things - well prepare to be amazed. Not only does LittleBigPlanet Vita provide you with the ability to create your own planet, but it also includes all the tools and materials which you'll have got used to from the console version, as well as the new tools required to make use of the Vita's abilities. In addition, Stephen Fry is back, providing a whole set of tutorials on how best to get started on making your own levels.
Once you've got to grips with making your own level, you can then share it with others. As with the console versions of the game, people can rate your level and leave comments. Likewise, you'll also have access to a whole communities worth of levels, meaning that when the story mode is over, the game never ends. The community planet is certainly well designed, allowing you to check out cool levels, MM Picks or even those of your friends. You can even download levels for when you are on the go, allowing you to play them offline. With LittleBigPlanet no doubt having the ability to expand even further due to its online community and future DLC, this is a game that you'll be playing for some time to come.
What Tarsier and Double Eleven have achieved with LittleBigPlanet is quite remarkable. Both studios have worked together to cram one of the PlayStation 3's best titles onto the PlayStation Vita, while still adding their own unique style along the way. If LittleBigPlanet Vita is a sign of the quality of games to come in the future, then Sony's handheld has a very bright future indeed.
Quite simply, if you own a Vita, then you must own this game, it's a must buy and without a doubt one of the best handheld games, if not the best, that I have ever played.
Review Policy (Version tested: PS Vita)