Review by nobodys_savior
A solid platformer with a few minor issues
What do you get when you mix equal parts Mario, Level Editor, and somewhat imprecise, floaty controls? You get Little Big Planet. While most games settle for just rehashing ideas that have been in the video game industry for several decades, LBP decides to give control to the gamer, in a sense almost creating two games in one: The typical platformer, and all the user created levels one could shake a proverbial stick at. How well does it stack up against one of the most common game genre's since the Nintendo days?
Firstly, and some would argue most importantly, the gameplay. Comparisons to Mario are inevitable, as Super Mario Bros. was one of (if not the) first financially and critically acclaimed platformers on home consoles. Sackboy, the main character you control, has three basic moves: Run, Jump, and Pull. Run and Jump have been done for over two decades in games of this style, and the pulling has to do with Levers that will open up new sections of the level, or activate something in said level. You can also pull parts of the level around to make better platforms for you to jump on. For example, there is a long wall that you need to jump up to, but your jump isn't high enough. A little earlier in the level there was a moveable cube, that if you moved it up to where you need to jump up, would provide just enough height to get to the top. You can pull the cube to where you need to go.
The physics in the game work pretty well, but the problem is sometimes they aren't as precise as I think necessary for a solid platformer. Sackboy jumps with a little bit of floatiness, and doesn't always make jumps that normally aren't a problem in most games. For example, near the end of the game there are several sections where the floor is spinning, and there are holes you must jump down. Unfortunately, there are plenty of spaces that don't lead to the exit, and instead will electrocute you. The checkpoint that you spawn from sometimes drops you straight into an electric pit unless you jump fast enough, but again, the jumps aren't always precise, so you may not jump high / far enough fast enough, and fall into a pit of shocking death. It might only be a minor gripe, but since running and jumping is the name of the Single Player portion of the game, the controls being an issue knocks some points down.
Another thing I found is that there really isn't any story per se. There are eight worlds all designed around a particular theme, and while they do link together in some way by the end, it still isn't much of a storyline. Granted, the "Save the Princess in the Castle" theme is barely a story these days on its own, a lack of plot also drops this game down a couple of notches.
The sound effects suit the game for the style it is, and the music is an excellent fit. Imagine the style of music from a game like Katamari Damacy, make it sound more international (IE not completely japanese for every single track) and you'll have an excellent idea of what the soundtrack is like. Very happy-go-lucky, cartoonish style, which I personally enjoyed whilst playing through the game.
Graphically the game is also pretty impressive. Most of the NPC's are made out to be cardboard cutouts with speech bubbles, but the levels look really cool, and have some nifty effects. Not a graphical powerhouse, but they definitely get the job done.
The game also sports four player same screen multiplayer. The levels don't really change much, and all four players share lives and a score. However, at the end of the stage, the high scores are divided based on each individual performance, and ranked accordingly. If you're playing online, you could even be joined randomly by other people who are signed in on the Playstation Network for some interesting game play. There are also sections of certain levels where, online or offline, you can only reach playing with others, and if you want to collect everything, you will need to play with others for certain sections. And why would you bother collecting everything in the game? The Main draw...
The Level Editor! While playing through the pre-made levels, you collect these little point orbs which act as a high score meter to rank you in the online ranking system. Amidst these point orbs are different stickers, costumes, and level pieces that you then use to create your own levels. When you start out, you have nothing, so creating a level at the beginning of the game is nigh impossible. However, after playing through the pre-made levels and unlocking more goodies, you can make levels that are just as good as (and in a lot of cases a whole lot better than) the levels that you start with on the disc. The pre-made levels act sort of as an example of the crazy things you can do with the games level editor.
Overall, I did enjoy my time with Little Big Planet. The different levels I've played that other people have made were really what sold this game on me though. While the controls could have used a little tweaking and maybe been made a little bit more solid, the customizability of the characters and your own levels make this game worth owning if you have a PS3. That being said, if you don't like platformers, or get frustrated easily when you need to attempt the same jump multiple times, you may want to rent it first. I would have given this game a 7.5 / 10, but GameFAQS doesn't do the decimal thing, so I'm bumping it to an 8.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: LittleBigPlanet (US, 10/27/08)
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