LittleBigPlanet Preview (Vita)

Sony has built an adorable empire around Sackboy and LittleBigPlanet. As such, the PlayStation Vita wouldn’t quite feel like a PlayStation platform without a game featuring our knitted pal. Come September 25th, the PlayStation Vita is going to feel a lot more warm and cuddly, and touchy and feely. And creative.

Play.Create.Share. is all over the PlayStation family of products, it’s even already found its way onto the PlayStation Vita with ModNation Racers: Road Trip, and more recently, Sound Shapes. But nobody can do it quite like LittleBigPlanet does. And even though Media Molecule isn’t fully responsible for LBP Vita, Tarsier and Double Eleven have got the formula down pat.

All of the create tools from the PS3 and PSP games faithfully return for LBP Vita. This time, as a platform, the PlayStation Vita brings a lot more to the table. The front touch screen and rear touch panel make Create mode all the more accessible; creation is a breeze. Not that it was ever all that difficult before, it just feels more natural now. After all the pinching and zooming we do with our smartphones, it’s easy to find comfort and routine in the Vita’s control scheme.

Zooming out and panning is done with the rear panel, while choosing the popit, navigating menus, or laying down materials and stickers is done using the front touch screen. There are even some new materials and tools that are designed with both touch inputs in mind.

After three LBP games in as many years, I feared I may have reached the point of saturation in terms of the story mode and the gameplay. And while every bit of the story mode mimics the simple yet fun campaigns of previous games, the added touch features—poking blocks in and out using the front and back of the Vita—does give it a fresh enough coat of paint to make me want to play more of it.

The newest sensation is found within the Memorizer tool, which affords creative players the ability to cook up mini-games that include level progression in such a way where you must finish one stage in order to unlock another. It also allows custom save points and inventories—the essential building blocks for an RPG.

Providing example, the story mode features an all-new “Arcade” with mini-games with unlockable level progression. The games are so varied and so strong on their own merit that I, at times, forgot I was playing LittleBigPlanet completely. One such “arcade” game, Tapling, slightly resembled Limbo in appearance and gamplay, and was good enough to have me wishing it were its own separate downloadable PSN title that I could dump hours into.

And going by what the community has created using the available tools in LBP and LBP2—which by the way, all user-generated content and DLC will be available in LBP Vita—there will be plenty more unique experiences to be had that cannot be found anywhere else. In fact, if you took the nearly seven million games and levels created by the community by length, and put them side by side, it would stretch around the Earth five times. That should keep even the most attention-deficit of us busy for quite a long time.

There’s a reason why Sony opted to name this simply LittleBigPlanet Vita. Even with some new features, it’s more of the same. But that’s never a bad thing when the only limit is imagination. The added touch controls make creation even more user-friendly, and the new memorizer tool will usher in new game-types previously not possible. If you do decide to buy LittleBigPlanet Vita when it arrives on September 25th, you’ll be getting the best LittleBigPlanet to date, and a technical marvel of a mobile game.