Sack it to ya!

Marking the fourth entry into the series (not counting its Karting counterparts), LittleBigPlanet PS Vita sees the franchise go portable for a second time, with this obviously being its first venture onto the PS Vita. Hoping that the Vita’s unique touch screen features could add a bit of freshness to the franchise, this is still a by the book LittleBigPlanet experience. From being introduced to a world of pure imagination by Stephen Fry’s dulcet tones, to the content creation engine that allows you to create your own levels and share them on PSN, the core of LittleBigPlanet remains perfectly in tact on the Vita.

The single player story this go around is that Sackboy (or Sackgirl) has been tasked with saving the world of Carnivalia from a once great puppeteer whose heart has turned black after being booed off the stage. Looking to exact revenge, he steals the souls of the creatures in this world and have their shells wander aimlessly around, except when he commands them to do his bidding, making everyone his puppet now.

In order to overcome this new foe, your Sackperson must traverse nearly 50 stages across several different, exotic locales with their own unique themes. And in each of these stages are never before seen puzzles, many of which take advantage of the Vita’s touch screens. These puzzles require you to push, pull, or tap objects in and out of perspective in the 2.5D world in order to progress, or pilot your Sackthing through various obstacle filled courses.

And along with these new puzzles are brand new mini-games and challenges that will require you to use the Vita’s special features even more, like turning the Vita on its side and playing a whack-a-mole like game with your fingers or placing blocks, like in Tetris, as you try to build the biggest tower possible. These games also take full of advantage of the ‘Pass ‘n’ Play’ feature incase you want to play these mini-games locally against friends.

Unfortunately, as fresh as the touch screen gimmick may make some aspects of the game play, it also takes directly away from some of the platforming that the single player is known for. When there are pure platforming sequences, they are just as spectacular as ever. But the touch screen required jumps become irritating very quickly as you try to hold blocks in place with your fingers on one hand while moving your Sackperson around with the other. This decimates any kind of pacing that tries to develop as you move through each stage. It also made the obstacle courses painfully difficult as your fingers often got in the way of the actual screen and you couldn’t see where you were going.

The touch screen also faltered when trying to place stickers or objects in the world or the content creator. Using your fingers to move pieces around, rotate them, or change their size, didn’t feel nearly as responsive or accurate as the experience you get with the buttons on LittleBigPlanet’s console versions.

Another aspect that had me grinding my teeth was the tutorials. At this point, nearly every gamer out there knows how to jump, run, and perform basic platforming actions. To waste 20% of the game’s stages on teaching me how to do core functions was a waste. When was the last time Mario had a tutorial? It only made sense with the content creator, as that is still a new and complicated enough feature to warrant refreshing players new and old.

At the end of the day, if you’re a LittleBigPlanet fan then this portable version is everything you’d expect from a game in this franchise and is easily one of the better Vita titles out there. It’s light humor and content creator is all still in tact and there is little lost from the last console version to this portable one. A few of the newer features, although they take advantage of the touch screen gimmick better than most Vita games, still can cause the game play to feel clunky at times though. A must have for fans of the franchise, but if you’re looking for this to sell you on the Vita itself, this isn’t that game.

SUMMARY: Although one of the better Vita games out there, the touch screen gimmicks still get in the way sometimes of the franchise’s core values.

  • THE GOOD: Same platforming and content creation that defines the franchise
  • THE BAD: Too much hand holding in the early levels
  • THE UGLY: Way too many soulless little dolls…creepy

SCORE: 7.5

LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is a PS VITA exclusive.