REVIEW: LittleBigPlanet on PSVita (Vita)

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Sony PlayStation Vita / Rated E / $39.99 / rel. September 2012



FINAL: You NEED this game. 5 out of 5 stars

The “LittleBigPlanet” series has become a reliable performer for Sony, transformed from an intriguingly unique upstart to an expected player in the Sony pantheon. When Sony first announced their next generation handheld, the PS Vita, the room was entirely devoid of shock when a new “LittleBigPlanet” was revealed for it. While this is not LBP’s first portable rodeo, what makes “LittleBigPlanet on PSVita” so impressive is how the game refuses to act like a portable game. This is a full-blown PS3 console experience smashed into the Vita’s box.

The franchise’s gently endearing craftworld visuals haven’t just made a leap to small-screen from big, they have owned it. “LittleBigPlanet on PSVita” is a gorgeous showpiece for the Vita’s graphical capabilities. All by itself it shows why dedicated gaming handhelds still exist in this world of iPhones.

“LittleBigPlanet on PSVita” is also one of the best Vita games around for showing off the system’s other abilities. The touchscreen plays a huge role, enabling iPhone-esque tap games to appear as natural extensions to the LBP framework. By combining the front and rear touchscreens, some areas let you push and pull elements in and out of the player’s path just by tapping. The camera will easily get pictures of yourself into the game. Tilting the Vita can be used to control on-screen vehicles. At times, you’re playing with the Vita itself as much as the game.

Level creation is greatly enhanced by the touchscreen controls. Smart placement of tappable icons allows for quick access to the game’s frighteningly voluminous collection of building tools. If “LittleBigPlanet” has a fault, it’s that level creation is insanely complicated. Building anything more aggressive than a simple obstacle course requires intense devotion. This Vita edition helps streamline the process of accessing those tools, even if the actual build is as intimidating as ever.
These complex levels have another downside: the amount of time required to load them. This can be a drag over laggy connections for online multiplayer, sure, but it also leads to lengthy loads even for the built-in boards.

“LittleBigPlanet on PSVita” is one of the first games to utilize Sony’s new concept of “Cross Goods,” or, extra content that you buy once for both “LittleBigPlanet” on PS3 and PSVita. To kick off this bout of generosity, players of “LittleBigPlanet” on PS3 will find that a majority of the Sackboy costumes they already own can be re-downloaded for LBP PSVita at no cost. Sony also has an update coming for “LittleBigPlanet 2” that will let the two games work together, allowing for levels that literally jump between your TV and your hands.

Perhaps what is most surprising about “LittleBigPlanet on PSVita” is how un-surprising it is. The game is a full-on recreation of its console big brother, with almost no visible sacrifices. This one should be in every Vita owner’s library.

Image courtesy Sony Computer Entertainment America. This review is based on product supplied by the publisher.