LittleBigPlanet 3

915sTmK8U1L._SL1500_Date Completed: February 21, 2016

The original LittleBigPlanet game wouldn’t have normally been something on my radar but a colleague of mine (Lets call him MDL for short) became a very big fan and even earned one of the Rare Prize Crown accessories as a level design contest reward.  I had a handful of ideas for levels but children started flying out of my wife at an alarming rate and I suddenly didn’t have the time to put into level design that I needed to accomplish anything of note.  Even so the game had a lot of charm and I discovered that I had become a LittleBigPlanet fan.  Unfortunately none of the games have been able to recapture the magic of that original title.  LittleBigPlanet 3 feels like they’ve given up trying.

The single player experience is OK but extremely short.  Rather than the linear progression of previous games the game is broken up into hub worlds, each of which involves you collecting one of the new characters in the game – Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop.  Each of the new characters can only be used in designated areas which I found disappointing.

In general the world ‘disappointing’ would sum up my entire experience with this game.  I didn’t care for the story.  I didn’t  care for the new NPC characters introduced.  I didn’t like the new ‘hub world’ concept, or the addition of quests.  I could continue listing things I didn’t like about the game but I’ll just say there was a lot to not like.

Not that the game is all bad.  I liked the new playable characters and I wished that I could have used them more.  The level design is very good and they are very fun to play.  My kids got to know SackBoy very well playing Run Sackboy Run and they loved seeing more of him in this game.

It many ways it feels as if the developers packed as many features into the game as they could, but decided not to make levels for it.  Instead they decided to rely on the community to create, share and play user generated content.  This may work for some of the audience of this game, however that’s not how I play.  I want to play a game with a beginning, a middle and an end.  I’m not really into playing games just for the sake of playing, I want a storyline and a goal.

After beating it I decided to sell the game.  They’re trying to push the DLC pretty hard for this game so I assume sooner or later LBP3 will be free for Playstation Plus subscribers.  I might play it again someday, but then again I might not.  I liked the game enough to play it but in the end it failed to capture the magic I was looking for.

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 6/10
Length:  ~5 hours
System: Playstation 4
Genre: Platformer

LittleBigPlanet PS VITA

LittleBigPlanet_Vita_BoxartDate Completed : October 11th, 2014

I have been a fan of LittleBigPlanet since the original arrived in 2008. I didn’t have kids at the time so I was able to play the game enough to achieve one of my few Platinum trophies. LittleBigPlanet 2 was a similarly excellent game which my boys enjoyed watching but the LittleBigPlanet PSP game was severely lacking.  I was also concerned for the title because LittleBigPlanet Karting was clearly designed to push the DLC on customers, which was most unwelcome.  I didn’t have high hopes for LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, but the Playstation Vita doesn’t have a lot of choice when it comes to games so I popped it on my Amazon Wish List anyway.

My first impression of the game was that I believed it had crashed.  After launching the title I was in the familiar ‘Pod’ area that lets you select the world and map you want to plan on and none of the buttons worked.  It turns out that you have to TOUCH the world you want to play using the touch screen and traditional controls are completely useless.  I can think of no reason for this design decision except that they wanted the game to function as a tech demo of the Vita’s new capabilities.

Once you get into the game it plays almost exactly like LittleBigPlanet 2, with some Vita specific goodness thrown in.  Objects can now be touchable using either the touch screen, or the touchpad on the back of the Vita.  There are also levels that use the gyroscopes and you must tilt the Vita to move.  None of these additions feel particularly necessary but they did give my kids a chance to interact with the game while I played it.  If my kids were watching me play I’d put them in charge of the touch screen and they would move the objects around for me.

The game itself was very short (only about 6 story mode levels I think) but there were a lot more challenge levels than I expected.  Some of the challenge levels were individual, but quite a few allowed for multiple players (either with hot seat or networked) and some allowed for multiple players at the same time on the same Vita, such as an air hockey mini-game.  My boys and I enjoyed playing that one against each other a lot.

LittleBigPlanet is only partly about the packaged game play though, if you aren’t creating levels you aren’t really playing the game.  Sadly I really don’t have the time to engage in the level design.  I spent many hours creating levels in the first LBP but since my kids were born I really don’t have the time, or the mental energy to spend too much time creating or playing community levels.  That said, the interface looks much improved for level creators.  If I ever get the itch to create a level again I’ll probably try and implement it in this version of the game.

I started playing the game a long, long, long but I kept putting it down and forgetting about it.  The 3DS has had several fantastic titles such as Bravely Default and A Link Between Worlds that took precedence and combined with tendonitis, a new born and moving to a new home LittleBigPlanet was never a priority.  Why not?  While technically the game is as good if not better than previous LittleBigPlanet games it somehow lacks the charm of the original game.  The music wasn’t as memorable, the characters weren’t as lovable, and the story mode is short.  It seems that they are hoping for fans to get more involved in the community levels, and creation aspect of the game which I simply do not have the desire for at this time.

I don’t want to sound too complain-ey though.  It’s a great little game, and it was fun to play, even if it didn’t quite manage to re-kindle my feelings of love for the original title.  If you’re the type who is likely to get involved in creating and playing community levels, or if you’re just another sad Vita owner looking for something to play, this game is for you.

Pros

  • New Touch Controls
  • Touch Screen based Level Designer

Cons

  • Short Story Mode
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  ~6 hours
System: Playstation Vita
Genre: Puzzle / Platformer

 

LittleBigPlanet Karting

Date Completed : April 25th, 2013

I’ve been a fan of LittleBigPlanet since the original.  It’s one of the few games I have a Platinum trophy on.  Unfortunately the quality of LittleBigPlanet games is far from consistent.  While LittleBigPlanet 2 is a worthy sequel the PSP LittleBigPlanet release lacked the spark of life.  LittleBigPlanet Karting sits somewhere in between being totally soulless and soulfull greatness.

The game itself is very similar to Mario Kart.  There are all the power slides, weapons and shortcuts you’d expect but the most similar aspect is how badly the game cheats (hint: it cheats so bad).  Enemies fly out of nowhere, smash you into walls, shoot you, destroy your Kart and laugh as you drop from 1st place to 8th in microseconds.  Fortunately you only need to place in the top three to advance to the next race.

Picking up weaponators (weapons) is a frustrating ordeal.  Other racers were constantly stealing weapons just as I was about to pick them up and I’d often go entire laps without getting anything.  When I did get a weapon it was rarely useful for improving my position in the race.  Immediately upon shooting someone another racer flies out of nowhere and fills the space.  I found the most effective strategy was to race my best and use weapons defensively.  When you’re racing in 8th place you often get ‘fast forward’ or ‘rocket ship’ items that speed you back up to the other racers but these items have an irritating tendency to drop you off somewhere awful.  Long story short, I would have preferred a more vanilla racing game without the weapons.

The game is played on several different planets.  Each planet has about 4 story levels and about 10 versus levels.  The versus levels are not required for story progression and usually required 2 or more players so I skipped all but a few of those.  The normal story mode levels come in three types – Races, Battles and Beat the Clock.  All of these modes behave pretty much exactly as you would expect them to.  Not much to say about them.

The game is family friendly so I was able to play it with my boys watching.  They didn’t really see the point to the game and mostly ignored it.  The graphic stylings of LittleBigPlanet just don’t have the toddler appeal of a Super Mario Bros.  The part they did enjoy was when I picked up a rocket weaponator and was able to ride it for portions of the race.  If the game was nothing but riding on the back of a rocket I think my kids would have been happy with this title.

The racing mode isn’t bad, but it’s not great.  I’d say that’s forgivable but where the game really fails is on the DLC.  When creating my character and Kart I opened up the pop-it like I was used to from LittleBigPlanet 2 and started trying out different looks for my character.  My boys would point to objects on the screen they wanted me to wear such as a blue shirt (my son’s favorite color) or a funny mustache.  While these objects were displayed when I tried to wear them I would be prompted to purchase them in the store.  Content you don’t own and are required to pay for is displayed with content that you do have and can use.  This is not acceptable.

There were other irritations with the interface as well.  After a race all I wanted to know was how I placed, my percentage of items collected and what items I won.  What they display are screens and screens full of useless information that I did not care about.  I didn’t want to wait for all of the screens to cycle but pressing any button skips them all.  I cold not find a way to make the screens cycle quicker or display only the information I wanted.  There are also several start up videos that need to be skipped individually EVERY TIME YOU START THE GAME.

LittleBigPlanet Karting was fun enough for what it was but I have no desire to play it anymore.  I played a few community levels, did some trophy farming and now I’m done.  While I might go back and play LittleBigPlanet 2, I have no intention of touching LittleBigPlanet Karting again.  It simply does not have the same timeless appeal as it’s big brother.

Pros

  • Play / Share / Create

Cons

  • Unpurchased DLC displayed with content you own.
  • Other interface irritations.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 6/10
Length: 6 hours
System: Playstation 3
Genre: Racing

LittleBigPlanet 2

LittleBigPlanet 2 is the latest entry in Sony’s ‘Play/Share/Create’ category of games meaning that it is meant to be a social experience played with other people.  The main story mode of the game is actually fairly short, however the online features of the game could be played for a lifetime.  Like the original LittleBigPlanet this game gives you all of the tools to create your own worlds and publish them to the Interwebs.  There are millions of levels published so even if you finish the game you’ll always have plenty of content to keep you busy.
When I played through the original title, I didn’t have any kids.  I probably wouldn’t have gotten into the game so much but several of my friends had purchased the game and REALLY got into level designing to the point where they were even entering contests.  I had a whole week off from work for Thanksgiving that year and I spent it designing and publishing levels of my own (none of which were liked very well, it turns out I don’t have a knack for it).  Now that the second title has been released, I have two kids and very few friends with the title to play with.  I think that mostly due to what’s going on in my life right now, while the game improves on the original in almost every way, I found that I actually enjoyed this game less.
The game engine has been updated so that in addition to platforming levels several other genres of games can be designed.  There are racing levels as well as shooter levels and sports levels to keep you occupied.  The game has also incorporated cut scenes with voice acting and more of a storyline that is much improved over the original.  There is even a new community website so you can stay involved with the LittleBigPlanet world from your web browser.  The game supposedly even has 3D support although this wasn’t something I could test.
Story mode is charming, funny and a lot of fun.  The zany characters you meet are now voice acted in cut scenes and stay with you through most of the game.  The plat takes off immediately and you are on a quest to defeat the ‘Negativitron’ who is destroying the LittleBigPlanet world.  The levels you play through will train you in the skills you will need, as well as introduce to to characters who will help ‘The Alliance’ win ultimate victory.  The new cut scenes are great and a lot of fun, however if you’re playing online the host of the game will probably skip them and you’ll miss the whole thing.  I recommend beating the game off-line and then going back through for 100%.
I found the levels to be quite a bit easier than in the original.  I aced most of them on my first try and I rarely died more than twice on any level.  I much preferred the difficulty level of the original.  Even the trophies seemed easier to get.  I spent countless hours spanning months trying to get all of the trophies in the original.  This one I think I could do in a weekend if I cared to.

Technically this game improves on the original in every way.  The original is still one of my favorite games of all time and I really enjoyed this game too.  It’s a great game that can be played with the whole family and a worth successor to LittleBigPlanet.
Pros
* Design tools can be used to create games of several genres.
* Online community provides endless amounts of content.
Cons
* Story mode is short.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 8/10
Length:  10 hours
System: Playstation 3
Genre: Platform (All?)