|System: PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: SCE Cambridge||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SONY||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Nov. 17, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Maria Montoro
July 20, 2009 - Some may have a doubt, but the truth is LittleBigPlanet looks and feels the same on the PlayStation Portable as it did on the PS3. It was exciting to get my hands on it back at E3, and I even got to play it on the new PSPgo! Playing it on the new device was definitely an added experience, but overall, the game looks and plays great, no matter how you look at it.
The development task has been given to a UK-based team of SONY Europe, although they're working with Media Molecule to achieve the closest possible feel to the original. However, for the most part, the SCEE team is the one in charge to make the portable version of last year's most creative game, which is definitely a tall order.
My first impressions were incredibly positive. Seeing the little sackboy hop on stage and start platforming just like it does on the original was very redeeming. The environments are very detailed and feature the classic fabric and cardboard textures that make LBP so unique. The sackboy character is equally authentic, and it can be customized on-the-go the way we're used to, by simply pulling out the "Pop-It" menu. The stage I played was brand new and exclusively designed for the portable version, as will be the 35 others that are planned for the game, in addition to the at least four secret stages included.
The demo level was the second in the game, and it featured Australia - boomerangs and kangaroos included. Sackboy is on vacation and travels around the world to find the ten level creators. This quest will take him to places such as China, Persia, and even Brazil, which is having a carnival - funny it seems like the perfect scenario for LittleBigPlanet! In addition to the standard, platform-based stages, the game will also feature mini-game style gameplay such as races, just like the first one did. The mini-game we saw had us surfing the waves while collecting bubbles. Also, although we didn't see an example yet, the team promises great boss battles.
The controls are very similar to the ones offered on the PSP's big cousin, although not quite as tight yet. Nevertheless, downsizing the game to fit the PSP's lower processing power and smaller screen is undoubtedly a big feat. We noticed the game only has two levels of depth this time around rather than three. This makes the gameplay a tad easier and more accessible, especially considering the game is played on a small display. The lack of a second analog stick slightly crippled the developers' intentions to mirror the PS3 controls, but even still, they did a good job with it. The D-pad buttons are used for facial expressions, and if you hold the left trigger and push one of them, the little sackboy will do one of the corresponding animations.
As you can see, not much will be changed from the original. They're trying to emulate the experience to the max. Even the level creator will supposedly be as deep as on the PS3, and they're also planning to offer a community where players can share their creations, check out high scores, download level packs, costumes, etc. Level sharing will also be supported offline via ad-hoc connection. LittleBigPlanet relies almost fully on these features once the single-player campaign is over, so it's important for the developers to include them and continue to support the game via DLC. That's all part of the main plan and won't be changed.
Unfortunately, one thing that's still iffy is the possibility of playing the game cooperatively with someone else. They really wanted to include this option, but the team is finding the task extremely challenging, so the end product may or may not include co-op multiplayer. They will, however, add some connectivity with the PS3 version of the game, allowing players to unlock goodies when linking the two versions.
LittleBigPlanet PSP has been in development for over a year now, and the team seems very confident about their product. It won't bring anything new to the table as far as gameplay, but it will allow players to experience the game fully, offering a brand new adventure and most of the features delivered on the PS3 version. The single-player campaign will last about ten hours, and the levels will be a little more puzzle-based, including plenty of stickers and costumes to collect, just like the first game. It definitely won't be a watered-down version but a full experience, so PSP owners without a PS3 will finally discover how genius this game really is, and series veterans should be able to enjoy it as much as the first one.
While there's no firm release date for the game just yet, the original deadline was November of 2009. At the very least, we know it will release sometime before the holidays, which is good news for all of us. Hopefully that will give the developers enough time to iron out the issues with the multiplayer. We'd hate to see it launch without that option!
CCC Site Director