With its release a few weeks away, Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios are showing off a preview build of Little Big Planet Vita, the latest game in Media Molecule’s franchise. The last time Sackboy found himself on a Sony handheld, he had to tackle adventures alone as the game’s multiplayer component was cut out in favor of retaining community content. Little Big Planet Vita aims to deliver the entire console experience on Sony’s latest portable gaming system.
The preview of Little Big Planet Vita includes a handful of tutorial levels (introduced by Stephen Fry) designed to show players the ropes. If you’ve played any of the previous games, you will find the sequence and structure of these levels to be immediately familiar. As someone who has played all previous iterations of the franchise, I wish there was an option to skip these initial levels and jump right into the new content. The game opens up after completing the first world, but I was only given access to an Arcade that contains a handful of mini-games that show off Little Big Planet 2’s robust game development system. I couldn’t tell if there were more than the seven mini-games available, but additional titles made by the Little Big Planet community can be downloaded.
The biggest question that comes up when talking about Vita games is whether or not they make adequate use of the tech without coming off as gimmicky. The touch screen’s limited use in the main game isn’t anything to get excited about, but using them to build levels is a whole different story. On the console, creating content for Little Big Planet meant dealing with a serviceable (if not clumsy) control scheme and a PlayStation Eye to make your own stickers. The Vita’s hardware cuts the work nearly in half as touch screens allow one to design content using their fingertips. Want to create a few rolling hills? Use your finger like a paint brush and drag along the screen to make the shape. Need to make singular objects bigger or smaller? Pinching your fingers together or pulling them apart will do just that. Creating your own stickers got a whole lot easier as well. Thanks to the Vita’s cameras, you won’t need the PlayStation Eye to make your own designs, just point, shoot and edit. The touch controls do take some getting used to - analog sticks can be used in tandem - but the extra precision and comfort has the potential to be an invaluable boon for the community.
Based on what I’ve seen, Little Big Planet Vita is shaping up quite nicely. The only concern I have is whether or not veterans will be put off with what appears to be a $40 port of Little Big Planet 2 that doesn’t pull in previously made user content from Media Molecule’s servers (though who is to say that will never happen?). Still, it looks to be just as fun as its predecessors a potentially valuable addition to your library.
Teen Services Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.