Game Review: Little Big Planet
Platform: PS3 Published: SCEA Developed: Media Molecule Genre: Platforming
Developed by Media Molecule and Published by Sony Computer Entertainment, Little Big Planet (LBP) is a game exclusive to the PS3. LBP is a game that emphasizes puzzles and creativity in level design. The player assumes the role of Sackboy or Sackgirl, as the case maybe, who travels around levels based on different parts of the world. For example, there’re some levels based on the streets of New York City, some levels resemble feudal Japan, and others even resemble jungles in Africa. However, the game’s greatest feature is not the levels in the game but it’s the potential to make them. LBP comes with several tutorials that teach the player how to use all of the game’s tools to customize levels and Sackboy.
The game’s mechanics are very basic and simple. LBP plays like a traditional 2D side scrolling game however, LBP allows the player to go deeper into the scene or more into outwards towards the player to deliver a 3D experience. The goal of every level is to basically reach the end, however, along the way; there are these orbs that can be collected to stack up the players score. In the levels that come with the game, the player can find some orbs that give the player some extras, such as new costumes for Sackboy or stickers to use in the level editor.
In the levels, Sackboy encounters many enemy NPCs and hazards that get in his way. For every time Sackboy gets hurt, he respawns to the last checkpoint. Checkpoints are seen on the screen as circles, and are activated by simply passing in front of it. The circle lights up and show how many times the player can get hurt before failing the level. It takes three hits to kill the player but every time the player finds a new checkpoint, they recover all of their “health”. Respawning takes orbs away. LBP’s charm lies in how the physics are applied to the environment and its puzzle filled levels. While the puzzles are many, they are also varied and never frustrating.
The levels in LBP are well balanced and are good examples of what can be done with the game’s level editor. Most levels have different paths that can be taken but that are only available with two or more players. This invites the player to experience the game with multiple players. Fortunately LBP comes with a great interface to play with other players either offline or online. In offline, it is as simple as connecting another controller and play. For online play, before selecting any level, the game displays the amount of people playing that level and will allow you to join the game.
One of the biggest selling points of LBP is its level editor. While including a level editor to a game is not a unique feature, LBP makes it seem as such. There are several reasons for this; however the biggest reason has to be the balanced design of the game’s mechanics. It is hard to pin point what it is, but if nothing else it has to do with the game’s elegance and simplicity. It’s as if the game’s design wants to remind the player how simple yet interesting gameplay can be fun. Another incentive for the players to make their own levels is the ability to share them with the community of players of LBP. Levels can be published and then rated amongst other players.
Another note worthy thing is the diverse music in the game. The levels in the game are suppose to represent different parts of the world, as stated before, so they place music that suits the occasion. On good example is the music in the area near Mexico. When I played that level I heard the song and noticed that the music was in Spanish, but more importantly I recognized the singer. The song was sung by a Mexican rock band called Cafeta Cuba and nothing says Mexican like that band.
It’s hard to point out any negative features to the game, if nothing else it might need more levels, however even then if that is the problem all one has to do is check out either other players levels or new downloaded content on the Playstation Store. Little Big Planet is a game that should remind both players and developers what fun can be when we go back to the basics. In modern times we try to make games that have tons of stats and features that can overwhelm players and forget what fun is.