System: Playstation 3
Developer: Media Molecule
Release Date: October 27, 2008
Never before have I played a game that provides so many customization options and thrives almost entirely because of user-generated content.
LittleBigPlanet is a side-scrolling platformer that comes with eight themed worlds of pre-made levels, as well as a handful of unlockable mini-games. You control Sackboy (or Sackgirl/Sackperson, depending on your gender), a charming rag doll that can be decorated in any way imaginable. This is a common theme because nearly everything in the game can be edited. The ultimate goal in each level is to go from beginning to end, racking up points and finding sticker bubbles that can be used for further customization. All of the levels can be played with 1-4 players, both online and offline.
Although many of the game’s provided levels are imaginative and full of life, the platforming aspects aren’t really anything new. Sackboy only has three functions: running, jumping and using the action button (to grab onto objects, hit switches, etc.). The game uses three levels of depth on the 2D plane, meaning Sackboy can move from the foreground, middle and background while moving from left to right. While this is an interesting dynamic to basic platforming, the controls are a tad too touchy and therefore cause unnecessary problems with perception. There were many times when I would attempt to jump onto an object, only to have Sackboy go off to another plane and miss the jump altogether. I appreciate the depth provided by this feature, but it could have really been more polished.
LittleBigPlanet excels for one reason: its creative community. The game provides the option to create your own levels with a surprisingly in-depth yet easy-to-use system. Gamers have really taken this option and ran with it, as the online community has thousands of uploaded levels, many of which are absolutely brilliant. Some people have made truly innovative worlds of varying themes and difficulties. There are also countless fan-made homages and tributes to other games, everything from Super Mario to Dead Space to Fatal Frame. You name it, there is probably some sort of LittleBigPlanet version online. Seriously, this is where the game becomes worth its cost.
Don’t let LittleBigPlanet’s “cutesy” look deter you from giving it a shot. The “Play, Create, Share” idea works out very, very well here. Even though the platforming gameplay isn’t all that original, the sheer amount of customization and community output puts this on a whole ‘nother level. With more polished controls, I would be an even bigger fan of the game. I didn’t spend too much time creating levels simply because I prefer to play them instead, but if that’s your thing then feel free to bump up my rating even higher. I am eager to play LBP2 to see how much the sequel improved upon the original’s ideas.
LittleBigPlanet is very cheap these days, and if you have the option then make sure to pick up the Game of the Year Edition. This comes with additional levels (including an awesome series of Metal Gear Solid missions) and some clothing packs for Sackboy.