Hands-on Preview: LittleBigPlanet Vita

Hitting the shelves officially on September 25th, Sackboy or Sackgirl if you so choose, will be following you in your pocket, or backpack anywhere you go! A new entry to the LittleBigPlanet franchise, LBP Vita is being developed by Tarsier Studios and Double Eleven Studios with surprisingly little input from Media Molecule.

Play.

Set on the traveling planet of Carnivalia a once happy and whimsical place, but now being terrorized by an evil puppeteer; it is Sackboy’s duty to bring laughter back to people of the planet. The platforming feels just as good as it does on the two console versions – but new gameplay mechanics that are introduced through the Vita’s touch controls provides an unsurpassed LBP experience. Expect to be bouncing, jumping, swinging and placing stickers throughout the levels and more.

Specially designed blocks are perfectly placed throughout the levels, which can be manipulated by either using the front touch screen or the rear touch pad. You can slide the blocks that impede your progress, move them around to create new platforms to jump or bounce on and even send Sackboy slingshotting high into the air and across gaps.

Collecting keys in certain levels will open up side challenges to complete. One had us rotating the Vita and holding it vertical to play a whack a mole style game with Sackboys. Using the touch screen I was frantically bobbing Sackboy on the head over and over. After completing the first set of platforming levels an Arcade section opened up. While only one game was unlocked in our preview – Tapling, the inclusion of these vastly different games than the standard LBP levels in the story mode raised a few eyebrows. In Tapling, you control a silhouetted blob through levels that resemble Limbo by using the touch. This dark and atmospheric platformer requires you to rescue white blobs captured in cages – three in each level. The gameplay gets more complex in the later levels due to mixing up the gameplay with areas that you bounce off of as well as ones that you can stick to.

Create.

Creating levels in LBP Vita feels intuitive and an overall smoother experience than on the console versions. Tinkering around I was able to use the front and rear touch controls to easily place objects where I wanted and manipulate them with ease. All of the tools from LBP and LBP 2 make a return as well as some of the PSP title and all existing DLC packs. The rear touch pad can be used to quickly zoom in and out as well as pan across the level. Using the front touch screen you are able to quickly navigate the Popit pages, access tools, costumes and stickers. The built-in microphone can be used to record sound effects as well as voice overs for levels and games. If you can’t find a sticker that suits your need, use the front or read camera to take pictures and convert them into stickers.

Share.

Switching gears and jumping online there are already a ton of levels to enjoy. Loading still feels about the same as the console versions, but once in the level I never experience any lag while playing. Levels can be downloaded to your Vita to play offline as well. Whether you are on 3G or Wi-Fi you will be able to browse, download, and publish levels and games. Did I also mention that you can play every LBP and LBP 2 level already created? Yeah, there will be no shortage of levels come release day. It is only a matter of time before someone adds touch controls to “shark” levels.

LittleBigPlanet Vita