One of the big highlights from the PS Vita reveal last year was that LittleBigPlanet would be coming to the system. The original game and subsequent sequel for the PS3 were regarded as classics while the PSP version was also well liked despite its lack of multiplayer. Some people have had a chance to check out the game in the closed public beta, and while Sony could have easily shown that build for E3, it decided to craft one specifically for the show to showcase both the familiar and new elements.
The E3 build showed off lots of elements from LittleBigPlanet 2, including specific cut-scene levels and a level showing off the use of the grappling hook. Those work out as expected, which should please those who expect the console game in portable form. The other levels, designed as race levels, show off some unique elements, including tilting to manipulate yourself and/or things in the environment. Some examples include tilting the system to move a pulley to which you're attached and a level where tilting is the only way to move — and where jump, speed and a speed boost are all governed by momentum. The levels also use the touch-screen to let you manipulate parts of the environment either by shifting it to the side or pulling it down to give you access to certain paths. The rear touch pad also seems to be in use for aiming, though with no tools at your disposal in this build, it's pure speculation.
Most people are interested in LittleBigPlanet for the creation elements, and in a way, this version may be more expansive than the console iteration. While we didn't get to play with the building tools in this version, we were shown a game purely controlled by touch, where you move a blob from one area of a level to another. Something like this is par for the course for PS3 creators (minus the touch controls), but a few things stood out. The game has custom fonts, and we were told that you can also make your own. The second is custom menus. Players have been able to create their own title screens and crude menus, but you can now make custom menus for everything from the title screen to the pause menu. Lastly, you can have a progression system in place for your game. In the example level, you needed to capture at least one of three orbs to reach the next level. As you progress, the game kept track of how many orbs you got and unlocked something new when you got all three orbs. Those additions help to make the game your own and drives LittleBigPlanet toward being a general game engine rather than a title with a few building elements.
At this stage, the graphics look good. The backgrounds look better than the PSP version but fall a hair below what you see on the PS3. There isn't much depth to the individual textures, but they still look impressive for a portable. The same goes for Sackboy, though that can be attributed to the diminutive size of the character given the camera zoom. The OLED screen makes things look very sharp, though, and the colors really pop.
The only frustrating part about LittleBigPlanet on the Vita is that there's no concrete release date yet, aside from sometime in 2012. Considering what the community has been able to do with the previous versions, the wait is painful. When the title finally hits, though, the wait will have been worth it.
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