Note: The LittleBigPlanet Vita beta is NOT representative of the final product. Do not take my thoughts too seriously. Some of my current issues with LittleBigPlanet Vita could be changed for the final version of the game.
Media Molecule has grown the beloved Sackboy in a PlayStation icon. Many players have enjoyed building millions of levels for millions of LittleBigPlanet players on PlayStation 3 to download, play, and rate. Tarsier Studios has now taken all of the creative tools used in the LittleBigPlanet PS3 games, and has shrunken it down for the portable PlayStation Vita. With this, Tarsier has also added touch, rear touch, and tilt controls to the mix. For the past few weeks, I was able to play a very early version of LittleBigPlanet for PlayStation Vita alongside a handful of other lucky participants. During this span of time, over 1,000 levels were created, me having created one of them. Is LittleBigPlanet Vita the big game that will save the HD handheld or it is a missed opportunity?
Within the beta, there were a few levels from the actual game ready to play. The first level was a really long level called Mainframe Heist which I found somewhat tedious, and a racing level called Jump and Jive which I enjoyed a lot. There was also a vs. level which I didn’t play and a very different styled game called Tapling which was kind of fun. What was cool about Tapling was that the game looked nothing like any LittleBigPlanet level. This really can allow people to create all types of games and let player use any kind of character they want. If you want to see any of these levels, just search for them on YouTube. You’ll find footage.
When it came to the LittleBigPlanet Vita beta testers, you can tell that very few of these people are hardcore LBP fans. Were there a lot of really amazing levels from beta participants? The answer to be completely honest is no. One of the biggest problems with the game is that only the creator is able to test out levels before publishing. If they are able to jump a platform or solve a puzzle, they will just assume everyone else can do the same thing. This is not necessarily true. I couldn’t complete most of the levels I played due to poor spacing of platforms, bad level design, or no clear indication of where to go next in a level. I’ve had these problems in the other LBP games, but much more so on Vita. There were however some great levels like a game where you had to pinch the Vita by touching the touch screen and touch pad to get rid of ants. I found this level enjoyable. Another stand out was a level called Lovesick which allowed you to control a dragon using the rear touch pad.
The create mode was a bit of a disaster. If you have played LittleBigPlanet 2, you’ll feel right at home as it uses the same interface and all of the same tools. The problem is that while the pop-it interface works great on your PS3 and big screen TV, it does not work as well on a tiny OLED screen. I found creating levels incredibly tedious as I spent a lot of my time scrolling through menus to pick out parts. There were also no descriptions of what each part or material did. There will be tutorials in the final game, however, there were none to be found in the beta. Having tutorials in the beta could have made me happier with creating and could have made every level better. And you would think that touch controls would help right? Because of the smaller screen size of the Vita, touch does not exactly help all that much. I actually found it easier to use buttons. This is mostly because the pop it interface does not work well on the Vita. I think it’s too late for Tarsier to change this. Oh well. LittleBigPlanet fans will still love it, but newcomers will be intimidated by the interface unless they take a couple of hours to complete all the tutorials. It unfortunately is not the type of interface you can pick up and know how to use immediately. This is not a smart move. You pretty much need the tutorials in order to know how it works. The pop it interface works very well on PS3, but unfortunately does not move over to a handheld system very well. It’s just too small and tedious.
On the visual side of things, LittleBigPlanet Vita is a great looking game, one of the best looking games on Vita. The game is bright and pretty. The music so far in game is pretty good as well. There looks to be a variety of music in the game.
Overall, while I enjoyed my time with the LittleBigPlanet Vita beta, I found it to be rather disappointing. Playing the game was a lot of fun, but creating was much harder to do in this game. Even with the faults of the beta, I think it will end up being a fantastic game. Once I complete those tutorials, I’ll be set to create levels and enjoy the levels other players create. LittleBigPlanet Vita will release this Fall, exclusively on PlayStation Vita. Stay tuned to LevelSave for more information on LittleBigPlanet Vita.