LittleBigPlanet landed on PS3 shortly before Christmas last year, and showed the world that there was more to 2D platform adventures than anything Mario and co had so far thought of. Now, as Mario, Luigi, et al take their 2D adventuring from the handheld DS to the ‘big’ console in Super Mario Bros Wii, Sackboy, star of Little Big Planet is going the other way, moving from the PlayStation 3 onto the console’s more portable little brother, the PSP, in an adventure which could quite accurately have been called LittleLittleBigPlanet… but which wasn’t.
If you’ve played the original version of the game then you’ll have some idea already of what to expect, and you can probably skip the next few paragraphs. For those unfamiliar with the versatile Sackboy however, LittleBigPlanet basically takes the basic concept of a 2D platform adventure and then adds about half-a-ton of features to it, thereby quadrupling the fun while still managing to keep it simple and instantly accessible to all.
Your beautifully-drawn Sack person must wander through the levels, climbing, jumping, pulling, hanging, switching, carrying and doing all manner of other simple tasks, whilst avoiding being squished, slammed, sunk, singed, eaten, electrocuted, trapped or otherwise interfered with along the way. Throughout the game there are quite literally thousands of items to collect, and these items can be used to customise your character (ordinarily something that really doesn’t interest me, but in this game, creating new looks for your character really IS almost as much fun as actually playing the game) vandalise (or ‘decorate’, depending on your viewpoint) the level with, or utilised in creating your own levels via the incredibly versatile level creation mode, then uploading these creations onto the web for gamers around the world to tackle.
With a Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy-style of narration courtesy of everyone’s favourite trivia-master, Stephen Fry, the PS3 version offered up to four players at a time the chance to explore the levels either in the same room with four controllers or via the ’net, and in fact playing with a friend was pretty-much essential as many sections of levels, along with their secrets and collectibles, could only be accessed through the cooperation of two or more participants. The worlds offered in the game were weird, whacky and – every one of them – absolutely wonderful, and thanks to the player creation option, the potential for further levels accessible via the web was practically endless.
The PSP version has managed to cram just about every feature of the original game into the handheld version, all except the multiplayer and the ‘photography’ option. The latter feature – a facility for you to pose your Sack person in his or her various costumes wherever you fancied within a level and ‘take a photo’ which could then be shared with friends – is no great loss, however the lack of a multiplayer mode IS a real shame, because playing the PS3 version with a friend is absolutely the best way to get the most out of it. However, the fact that this game is solo only does at least mean that you won’t have to run around trying to find a friend with a PSP in order to make the most of the levels. What you really will want in order to get the most from the game though, is an internet connection, because the awesomeness that is the player creation mode has made it into the PSP version, and any Sackboy fan worth his salt is going to want to both create levels to share with the world, and have the opportunity to download levels created by other gamers via the PlayStation Network.
The best news for all concerned though has to be that rather than simply port across the original levels from the PS3 version, the developers have been hard at work creating all new worlds in which to challenge Sackboy. More than 30 levels across 7 themed environments have been crammed onto the UMD, all with the level of detail and deviousness anyone familiar with the PS3 game will expect, and they’ve even somehow found spare space on the disc for Stephen Fry’s dry narration too, without which the gaming experience simply wouldn’t be the same. All in all, even without the multiplayer, LittleBigPlanet is an essential purchase and deserving of an excellent 8 out of 10. A must for all PSP owners.