"A Sackful of Life"
When the PS Vita was first announced last year, most gamers were looking forward to its debut. Back then, they thought they'd be playing games which took full advantage of the new handheld's graphical horsepower and exotic capabilities. However, when the system actually launched, most of its titles were ports of existing console games, making its massive price tag a hard sell. Luckily, though the system has struggled ever since its launch, it's gradually started to build its own unique library, and titles like LittleBigPlanet represent the excellent realization of the device's potential.
Though the Vita adds several new features, the basic gameplay of LittleBigPlanet for PS Vita remains the same as the PlayStation3 versions. It's a 2D platformer rendered with 3D graphics and enhanced by 3D physics, and it emphasizes a degree of character and level customization few games dare attempt. There's a strong single-player component, with massive preconstructed obstacle courses littered with collectible items. However, the game really comes alive when you take it online, creating your own levels and sampling the designs of other players. This basic design proved successful on the PS3, but the Vita version truly realizes the potential of the LittleBigPlanet concept.
The Vita's touch screen is used extensively in LittleBigPlanet for PS Vita, and the gameplay benefits. In addition to controlling Sackboy with the analog stick and buttons, you get to control parts of the level by tapping the blue areas of the screen, creating a path for your sack-person. In addition to using the front screen to move platforms forward, this LittleBigPlanet also uses the rear touch pad to move platforms into the background. This adds new dimensions to the simple side-scrolling formula, as you have to monitor the background as well as the foreground. Unfortunately, simultaneously controlling the buttons and the touch screen can prove difficult, especially in harder levels. Fortunately, players can eventually get used to the complicated set-up, and appreciate the depth of the levels.
The touch screen serves even greater utility for the general interface. When designing a level or sifting through menus, tapping and dragging items on the screen is far more efficient than using the analog sticks and buttons. This improved setup allows players an easier path to get into LittleBigPlanet, and once they get in, they can go as deep as they wish. LittleBigPlanet for PS Vita, like the other installments in the series, requires commitment. The pre-constructed single-player levels make for a great game on their own, but the real value is in the community of user-generated content, and the Vita provides the best means to access LittleBigPlanet's glory yet created.
GameDynamo's Score for LittleBigPlanet (PS Vita)
Neil Kapit is a freelance writer, cartoonist, and "La Li Lu Le Lo" agent based in Los Angeles. His work can be seen on www.therubynation.com.
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