This article was originally posted by me on Hittin Crits, which has since been taken offline. The content in this article was either taken from a web archive of the original, or from the most recent copy on my hard drive. As archives do not always contain images it’s probably that the images contained within the original article are not present here.
LittleBigPlanet is one of the series that capture what the PlayStation ‘feel’ is for me. A lot of people associate PlayStation with the big names- the Uncharteds, the Last Of Uses, the inFamouses, but for me it’s always been the quirky fun stuff, like the EyeToy and Buzz! games I played with friends and family as a kid. LittleBigPlanet just has so much charm, it makes you feel good playing it. So I was excited to try out LBP3, to see if it continued the series’ tradition of quality, and I’m happy to say that it most definitely does.
The LBP games are platformers, with a focus on building your own levels. It has a makeshift, homemade feel to it, with characters and levels made from crafting materials and odd bits of junk. In the past games you played as Sackboy, a small person made of wool who you could customise with a variety of different outfits and decorations. In this game, in addition to Sackboy, you have three new characters to play with, each with their own abilities. Toggle is the one that looks like Grimace, and he has the ability to grow and shrink as the situation requires. Oddsock is a dog, who can walljump and run faster than the others. And finally, Swoop is (as you can probably guess) a bird, who can flap their wings, acting like an infinite number of jumps.
The EBX demo had one level available for four players to play through, with each player using a different character. I was playing as Swoop, with a little kid and two other guys manning the other characters. Each character is introduced one by one, with a little segment that makes use of their abilities, before the group moves on to a couple of puzzles that require players to work together, using their unique talents to get to the spaceship at the end of the level, and fly off into space. For example, one puzzle required Toggle’s weight to push down a switch, but it was too high for him to jump onto it. Swoop had to then pick him up and carry him onto it in order for the other characters to progress. The puzzles were simple enough for kids to understand them, but interesting enough for me to appreciate the ways the characters’ talents complemented each other.
The game gets real fun when you have to have each character doing different things in order to progress past a part of the level, because half the time people won’t know what they’re doing and it devolves into a frantic mess. The people who know what they’re doing try to explain to the others what to do, while they stumble about cluelessly, often with hilarious consequences. There’s a section where Sackboy has to use his airgun to blow a spiky panel upwards so the other characters can walk past, but the guy controlling Sackboy in our group couldn’t aim the gun properly to blow the panel, and then when he finally pushed it, he ended up on the other side of it and blew the spiky side right into the rest of us, killing us all. It might have impeded our progress, but it was hilarious nonetheless.
And that’s why LBP games really come into their own in multiplayer. You can work together, of course, and in this game the ways that powers combine make that much more rewarding. But when you’re playing with friends, you’re naturally going to want to annoy them. The demo had plenty of opportunities to do so, but I didn’t want to anger my group so I decided to save it for whoever’s unlucky enough to play the final game with me. In addition to the spiky death I mentioned above, there was an area where Swoop had to lift some panels so the other players could run underneath them- but the bottoms of the panels were covered with spikes, so if Swoop were to ‘accidentally’ let go too early, their friends would get crushed underneath. Swoop would be fantastic for griefing with his ability to fly off with other players. But you guys wouldn’t do that, right?
LBP3 was one of the stand-out games of the expo for me, it was a heck of a lot of fun and showed off the game’s biggest new feature in a concise and entertaining way. While I’m not sure how the same level would work when playing by yourself, what I saw shows that you’ll be in for a treat if you’re looking for a fun new co-operative game.
LittleBigPlanet 3 swoops into stores on November 26th, 2014 on PS3 and PS4