Monday, 8 March 2010

Little Big Planet PSP

The return of Sack Boy
Yes, Sack Boy is back, (even more portable and smaller than before).  A year since the release of the PS3 platformer, SCE Cambridge and Media Molecule have brought forth Sack Boy’s latest adventures, this time on the PSP, with more insanely designed levels and create-and-share-your-own customisation.  So join me, as we delve into what is meant to be the world’s collective imagination.

Stephen Fry
The English language version of the game sees the return of Stephen Fry as the narrator.  Fry guides you through the game, along with a couple of helpful characters on the levels, helping you to learn all that you could possibly want to know about the world of Little Big Planet.  At times you will be very thankful for this guidance, especially the characters that talk to you on the levels, as often they will give you clues that are essential for figuring out how to progress through a level.

Little Big Planet on the PSP does not have the same basic story as its big brother on the PS3.  Instead of the world created from the imaginations of the Creator Curators in peril, the PSP game sees the Creator Curators eager to get to a carnival that is being held in their honour.  Once Sack Boy has proven himself in the Story levels, he is finally invited to the carnival where he has a float along with all the other Creator Curators.  Not that Little Big Planet games are really about the story, no, do not expect anything close to a Shakespearean tragedy here.

Game play
As with the first game, the PSP game sees a great deal of emphasis on players becoming Creator Curators themselves and spending time not just customising Sack Boy, but masterminding and building their own levels based off of the main game’s content.  Level creation may seem like a fun idea when you first hear about it, however when you start up the level creator you are greeted with a mode that is not at as simple to use as you would have hoped.  Even Mr Fry cannot make things easier for you.  It can take longer than a play through of the Story levels to create a single level that is suitable for playing.

There is not much refuge to be found in the Story levels either.  Though the PSP game has vastly improved on issues from the controls and game play of the PS3 game, this being the different paths that you can move Sack Boy onto during levels, the controls still leave a lot to be desired.  Often you’ll find yourself cursing the game, as your best efforts to grab and jump between parts of level environments do not work due to the controls still being quite unresponsive.  Also, just plain old jumping never seems to want to work in the way you want it to, high jumps are often elusive beasts during the course of the game.  Annoyingly the game would even glitch at times, leaving your Sack person stuck on the side of a ledge unable to jump or move left or right, with a reset back to a progress point the only option left to you.

Game length
Controls aside, Little Big Planet on the PSP, is an incredibly short platformer.  It takes less than a day to complete the Story levels, and there is no multiplayer.  This indicates that SCE Cambridge and Media Molecule were hoping that the create-and-share element of the game would keep people going.  In fact, after struggling through the Story levels, the end carnival seems greatly lack lustre due to how much effort is needed to get to the end.

Perhaps the main thing that I find difficult to understand about this game is not the whole create-and-share aspect, but the stereotyping done of different nationalities in the Story levels.  People from the Alps into lederhosen and clocks, people from the Middle East whose interests are only magic carpets and magic lamps, dragons and fireworks in China… it’s as if it was cooked up from a less raunchy version of Jim Davidson’s imagination.
Little Big Planet for the PSP, though maintaining many aspects of the first game, seems rushed and heavily relies on the create-and-share part of the game but this makes the replayability weak.  The only people who will get a great deal from this game are those who can handle the obsessive amount of hours needed to devise and create levels in the level creator.  Those looking for an enjoyable platform should look to the original or elsewhere entirely.

Colourful and interesting graphics
Partly improved controls
Stephen Fry
Helpful in-level characters
Create your own levels…

… Create your own levels
The jump control
Ledge glitching
Short Story

Over all score: 70%
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