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"Little Big Planet (PSP)"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'LittleBigPlanet'.
Wed 17/02/10 at 14:02
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,054
Did you ever play a game and think you could do a better job than the developers did? If so, then this is a game for you. Little Big Planet (LBP from here on) gives you the chance to show the developers at Sony Cambridge a thing or two via an extensive level editor but more on that later.

LBP started life on the PS3 and has caught the imagination of wannabe level designers with many levels having been created and published for the LBP community to play. The PSP version of LBP is a whole new game with 7 new worlds created specifically for this version and it has survived the journey from the PS3 very much intact but the loss of the multiplayer aspect will disappoint some.

On the surface, LBP is a cute and charming 2D platform game where you control (and dress up) a character which resembles a childís cuddly toy. This is not a game to show your blood-thirsty friend who likes to hack, slash and mutilate in his games. In fact, for a certain male demographic, it might be best to deny all knowledge of this game. But if you look beyond the surface you will see a game overflowing with originality and imagination and game that welcomes you to join in the fun and show off your creative side. Or prove just how little creativity you actually have in some cases.

The game gets off to a splendid start with Stephen Fry narrating during a tutorial level. Stephen Fryís voice will be heard many times as he explains the different parts to LBP and his involvement has been a stroke of genius. His voice, tone and vocabulary just add to the overall warmth and charm of this game. This tutorial will see you dressing your character, called sack boy, in on outfit of your choice and generally getting you familiar with the controls. With left right, jump and grab, it shouldnít take you too long to master the basics. Customising plays a big part in LBP from your character right up to the levels you play and even at this early stage you will see there are plenty of options for customising your sack boy. Make him look as smart or as ridiculous as you like, itís your choice. Your sack boy doesnít speak and anybody who has played any of the recent Sonic games will probably confirm that this can be a good thing. You can however change the expression of your sack boy, he can be sad, happy, frightened or angry and he can wave his arms about in some sort of funky dance routine. It doesnít change the gameplay in any way, itís just simply part of the fun and makes sack boy feel a little more than just a cuddly toy character.

At the start of each level you will meet a character who will inform you of the general aim of the level. There is a little story to each level and although itís by no means a candidate for a movie script, it does add a little purpose to the proceedings and depending on the level, you may meet more characters as you progress through. The general aim is classic platforming, get from the start point to the finish point, solve the odd puzzle and collect some items along the way. In progressing towards the end of a level you will find sack boy jumping, bouncing, riding, flying, dragging objects and spinning his way along, this is not a game that can be faulted for lack of variety.

Each level has a number of checkpoints and here is where things differ a little from the PS3 game. In the PS3 game you had a set number of lives to get to the next checkpoint, for the PSP game they have changed this to simply losing score each time you die, there are no lives but a few life losses and your score starts looking less impressive. There are plenty of obstacles in your path such as areas where you can get squashed, moving platforms, disappearing platforms, deadly surfaces such as fire, deadly areas such as poisonous gas and all manner of creatures all to avoid, contact with any of these will send you right back to the checkpoint. The checkpoint system is fair and you wonít find yourself repeating too much before you are back where you were prior to death. The platforming is 2D but it works on two plains and you are able to jump into the background to go behind or to simply jump onto another platform. Most of the time this is handled smoothly but there will be times where a little persuasion is needed. Physics play their part in the LBP levels, you will find yourself riding on top of an animal on wheels and gathering pace as you go down hill, see-saws will move appropriately depending on the weight difference on each side, some hinged platforms will bend under your weight, in short, things act like they would do in the real world. You will find yourself having to hold a platform down with weighted objects so that you canít make the jump on the other side and you will find yourself timing your jump to get better height off a platform which moves up and down. It might be a simple 2D platformer in theory but in reality there is a lot involved in getting from one end of a level to the other.

The real challenge in LBP is to collect all of the items and the key in each level. The items and keys are easy to spot but not all of them are easy to get to. The key is used to open a score challenge level where you will participate in all manner of mini games with a view to beating your high score. The items to collect take the shape of a bubble, the little ones add to your score, collect enough in a row and you will increase the multiplier which naturally leads to a higher score. The large bubbles are either stickers, clothing or objects. Collecting stickers may seem unusual at first but in LBP you can decorate the levels with a variety of stickers, this includes your own levels or the existing levels. In most cases this is purely decoration but certain stickers need to be placed in specific areas to act as a switch and open an area you couldnít get to or simply reward you with more stickers or objects. When you complete a level it will track your score and the percentage of collectables you gathered but you may need to play later levels to find a sticker you need in an earlier level which does add a replay incentive. Objects are items that can be used when it comes to building your own levels and the clothing items speak for themselves but letís just say you can make sack boy look very interesting. Your overall score for the level will be tracked and if you are connected to the internet then you will see the global leaderboard for the level and you will start wondering just how some people manage to get a score several hundred thousand more than you did but not losing lives and collecting all the collectables is a good start to boosting that score.

The big difference with PSP LBP and PS3 LBP is the lack of multiplayer. The PS3 allowed multiplayer over PSN and many of the levels required some team work to complete them at 100%. The PSP is purely a solitary experience and this will disappoint some but I prefer to have the 100% completion targets completely in my own hands. It is also more fitting for the portable gaming machine as if you are playing on the move then you may not be near an internet connection.

Graphically LBP gives you a warm feeling inside and you will see many weird and wonderful things on your travels. This is a game designed by people with quite some imagination, the levels are works of brilliance and can be a little wacky too, in what other game do you find a character that asks you to step into his digeridoo? The cute and charming look might not appeal to everyone but I canít fault it myself. It does lose a little of the sharpness from the PS3 version, particularly with sack boy. A sack boy helmet on the PSP can look a little jaggy and there are some edges which seem less smooth but on the whole it stands up very well in comparison and you are going to have to really look for differences. And like the PS3 version, it has a jolly little soundtrack to go along with it.

Sony rightfully talks a lot about the endless opportunities the level creation element to LBP brings and the number of levels created by the LBP community. This is technically a game that can never end with the ability to work on your own creations as well as the levels created by the other users. Levels published by other users are freely available for you to download to your PSP. Naturally the quality varies and you may need recommendations in order to find some gems but it all works well and the download takes a few seconds. And more importantly, there is no shortage of levels to choose from.

When it comes to creating your own level you will find all manner of tools and objects which will enable you to create levels of similar quality to the ones that Sony Cambridge have produced. You are not left on your own wondering where to start, Stephen Fry is on hand to take you through how to build you own level and how to use each of the objects in a multitude of tutorials. This isnít some cut down level designer, everything you have seen in the game can be created and with the right amount of imagination you can create some stunning levels. And therein lies a little problem, it may be easy to create a level but to create a masterpiece it is going to take time and an imagination. The game can teach you how to use the items but it canít teach imagination. However, I canít fault the game for my lack of imagination, especially when the level designer works very well, is simple to use and all the tools are there just waiting to build an inspired level.

You can publish your levels to the community and make them available for all to play. This means that every time you put on LBP you can be playing a different level. It is a brilliant aspect to have to a gameís lifespan. The quality of the levels varies as you can imagine but there are some talented people out there who have created levels worth playing and Iím sure some of the developers will be astonished by the creations. You can also easily share levels amongst your friends.

The game is supported with updates for the online play so this does feel as well supported as the PS3 version which is nice to see.

LBP is an excellent, good clean fun game. It is a game that wants you to get involved in every aspect, itís easy to play and control and even the level creation is easy to do, there is very little complexity to be found except within the challenge of completing the game. LBP tries and succeeds to make it a friendly place to be, make you confident enough to try to make new levels and make you realise that this is your game to customise as you see fit and make it easy to do so. The friendly feel to it is probably best summed up by a line from Mr Fry, ďcome in and make yourself at homeĒ.

I find the levels and their content in this PSP version show even more imagination than in the PS3 version and some of the puzzles are more complex. The PSP version ups the difficulty a bit earlier than the PS3 version did but practice makes perfect and with the removal of the lives system you will see the end of the level eventually. The PSP game may not have multiplayer and it may be on a less powerful machine but the game is very bit as good, if not better.

On criticism I do have is that the loading times can be quite slow. I am playing this on a PSP 1000 using the UMD, it should be quicker to load on the newer PSPs and from memory stick but I canít comment on how much quicker.

Little Big Planet is a joy to play and is perfect handheld gaming material.

9/10
Wed 17/02/10 at 14:45
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,054
I imagine I am in the minority for preferring the lack of multiplayer.
Wed 17/02/10 at 14:20
Moderator
"possibly impossible"
Posts: 24,985
Great review.

I downloaded it when it came out as I had the PS3 game and loved it. I do wish they'd managed to include multi-player support though.
Wed 17/02/10 at 14:02
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,054
Did you ever play a game and think you could do a better job than the developers did? If so, then this is a game for you. Little Big Planet (LBP from here on) gives you the chance to show the developers at Sony Cambridge a thing or two via an extensive level editor but more on that later.

LBP started life on the PS3 and has caught the imagination of wannabe level designers with many levels having been created and published for the LBP community to play. The PSP version of LBP is a whole new game with 7 new worlds created specifically for this version and it has survived the journey from the PS3 very much intact but the loss of the multiplayer aspect will disappoint some.

On the surface, LBP is a cute and charming 2D platform game where you control (and dress up) a character which resembles a childís cuddly toy. This is not a game to show your blood-thirsty friend who likes to hack, slash and mutilate in his games. In fact, for a certain male demographic, it might be best to deny all knowledge of this game. But if you look beyond the surface you will see a game overflowing with originality and imagination and game that welcomes you to join in the fun and show off your creative side. Or prove just how little creativity you actually have in some cases.

The game gets off to a splendid start with Stephen Fry narrating during a tutorial level. Stephen Fryís voice will be heard many times as he explains the different parts to LBP and his involvement has been a stroke of genius. His voice, tone and vocabulary just add to the overall warmth and charm of this game. This tutorial will see you dressing your character, called sack boy, in on outfit of your choice and generally getting you familiar with the controls. With left right, jump and grab, it shouldnít take you too long to master the basics. Customising plays a big part in LBP from your character right up to the levels you play and even at this early stage you will see there are plenty of options for customising your sack boy. Make him look as smart or as ridiculous as you like, itís your choice. Your sack boy doesnít speak and anybody who has played any of the recent Sonic games will probably confirm that this can be a good thing. You can however change the expression of your sack boy, he can be sad, happy, frightened or angry and he can wave his arms about in some sort of funky dance routine. It doesnít change the gameplay in any way, itís just simply part of the fun and makes sack boy feel a little more than just a cuddly toy character.

At the start of each level you will meet a character who will inform you of the general aim of the level. There is a little story to each level and although itís by no means a candidate for a movie script, it does add a little purpose to the proceedings and depending on the level, you may meet more characters as you progress through. The general aim is classic platforming, get from the start point to the finish point, solve the odd puzzle and collect some items along the way. In progressing towards the end of a level you will find sack boy jumping, bouncing, riding, flying, dragging objects and spinning his way along, this is not a game that can be faulted for lack of variety.

Each level has a number of checkpoints and here is where things differ a little from the PS3 game. In the PS3 game you had a set number of lives to get to the next checkpoint, for the PSP game they have changed this to simply losing score each time you die, there are no lives but a few life losses and your score starts looking less impressive. There are plenty of obstacles in your path such as areas where you can get squashed, moving platforms, disappearing platforms, deadly surfaces such as fire, deadly areas such as poisonous gas and all manner of creatures all to avoid, contact with any of these will send you right back to the checkpoint. The checkpoint system is fair and you wonít find yourself repeating too much before you are back where you were prior to death. The platforming is 2D but it works on two plains and you are able to jump into the background to go behind or to simply jump onto another platform. Most of the time this is handled smoothly but there will be times where a little persuasion is needed. Physics play their part in the LBP levels, you will find yourself riding on top of an animal on wheels and gathering pace as you go down hill, see-saws will move appropriately depending on the weight difference on each side, some hinged platforms will bend under your weight, in short, things act like they would do in the real world. You will find yourself having to hold a platform down with weighted objects so that you canít make the jump on the other side and you will find yourself timing your jump to get better height off a platform which moves up and down. It might be a simple 2D platformer in theory but in reality there is a lot involved in getting from one end of a level to the other.

The real challenge in LBP is to collect all of the items and the key in each level. The items and keys are easy to spot but not all of them are easy to get to. The key is used to open a score challenge level where you will participate in all manner of mini games with a view to beating your high score. The items to collect take the shape of a bubble, the little ones add to your score, collect enough in a row and you will increase the multiplier which naturally leads to a higher score. The large bubbles are either stickers, clothing or objects. Collecting stickers may seem unusual at first but in LBP you can decorate the levels with a variety of stickers, this includes your own levels or the existing levels. In most cases this is purely decoration but certain stickers need to be placed in specific areas to act as a switch and open an area you couldnít get to or simply reward you with more stickers or objects. When you complete a level it will track your score and the percentage of collectables you gathered but you may need to play later levels to find a sticker you need in an earlier level which does add a replay incentive. Objects are items that can be used when it comes to building your own levels and the clothing items speak for themselves but letís just say you can make sack boy look very interesting. Your overall score for the level will be tracked and if you are connected to the internet then you will see the global leaderboard for the level and you will start wondering just how some people manage to get a score several hundred thousand more than you did but not losing lives and collecting all the collectables is a good start to boosting that score.

The big difference with PSP LBP and PS3 LBP is the lack of multiplayer. The PS3 allowed multiplayer over PSN and many of the levels required some team work to complete them at 100%. The PSP is purely a solitary experience and this will disappoint some but I prefer to have the 100% completion targets completely in my own hands. It is also more fitting for the portable gaming machine as if you are playing on the move then you may not be near an internet connection.

Graphically LBP gives you a warm feeling inside and you will see many weird and wonderful things on your travels. This is a game designed by people with quite some imagination, the levels are works of brilliance and can be a little wacky too, in what other game do you find a character that asks you to step into his digeridoo? The cute and charming look might not appeal to everyone but I canít fault it myself. It does lose a little of the sharpness from the PS3 version, particularly with sack boy. A sack boy helmet on the PSP can look a little jaggy and there are some edges which seem less smooth but on the whole it stands up very well in comparison and you are going to have to really look for differences. And like the PS3 version, it has a jolly little soundtrack to go along with it.

Sony rightfully talks a lot about the endless opportunities the level creation element to LBP brings and the number of levels created by the LBP community. This is technically a game that can never end with the ability to work on your own creations as well as the levels created by the other users. Levels published by other users are freely available for you to download to your PSP. Naturally the quality varies and you may need recommendations in order to find some gems but it all works well and the download takes a few seconds. And more importantly, there is no shortage of levels to choose from.

When it comes to creating your own level you will find all manner of tools and objects which will enable you to create levels of similar quality to the ones that Sony Cambridge have produced. You are not left on your own wondering where to start, Stephen Fry is on hand to take you through how to build you own level and how to use each of the objects in a multitude of tutorials. This isnít some cut down level designer, everything you have seen in the game can be created and with the right amount of imagination you can create some stunning levels. And therein lies a little problem, it may be easy to create a level but to create a masterpiece it is going to take time and an imagination. The game can teach you how to use the items but it canít teach imagination. However, I canít fault the game for my lack of imagination, especially when the level designer works very well, is simple to use and all the tools are there just waiting to build an inspired level.

You can publish your levels to the community and make them available for all to play. This means that every time you put on LBP you can be playing a different level. It is a brilliant aspect to have to a gameís lifespan. The quality of the levels varies as you can imagine but there are some talented people out there who have created levels worth playing and Iím sure some of the developers will be astonished by the creations. You can also easily share levels amongst your friends.

The game is supported with updates for the online play so this does feel as well supported as the PS3 version which is nice to see.

LBP is an excellent, good clean fun game. It is a game that wants you to get involved in every aspect, itís easy to play and control and even the level creation is easy to do, there is very little complexity to be found except within the challenge of completing the game. LBP tries and succeeds to make it a friendly place to be, make you confident enough to try to make new levels and make you realise that this is your game to customise as you see fit and make it easy to do so. The friendly feel to it is probably best summed up by a line from Mr Fry, ďcome in and make yourself at homeĒ.

I find the levels and their content in this PSP version show even more imagination than in the PS3 version and some of the puzzles are more complex. The PSP version ups the difficulty a bit earlier than the PS3 version did but practice makes perfect and with the removal of the lives system you will see the end of the level eventually. The PSP game may not have multiplayer and it may be on a less powerful machine but the game is very bit as good, if not better.

On criticism I do have is that the loading times can be quite slow. I am playing this on a PSP 1000 using the UMD, it should be quicker to load on the newer PSPs and from memory stick but I canít comment on how much quicker.

Little Big Planet is a joy to play and is perfect handheld gaming material.

9/10

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