Lightning doesn’t strike twice, so I was a little skeptical as to whether a game that relied as much on a surprising, offbeat charm as LittleBigPlanet did could work a second time around. The news that multiplayer (one of the most loved modes of the first game) was being taken out of the PSP version didn’t do much to raise my hopes. I’m glad to report that, while it might not be the classic that the original is, LittleBigPlanet PSP is something we see far too rarely on the system: a well-made and captivating platformer.
I won’t lie: a bit of the magic that made LBP the toast of the video game press is gone. On the PSP’s smaller screen, SackBoy and the environments don’t have the same impact, lacking the realistic, cloth like textures that made the original one of the most visually arresting PS3 games. While you can say that graphics are just window dressing, this visual downgrade effectively neutralizes one of the original’s most infectious features – dressing up and interacting with your SackBoy. The customization is still there, but when he’s shrunk down to the size of a pea, I found it hard to care what pair of microscopic glasses he was wearing. I feel the same way about the level creator. It works well and offers nearly the amount of features the original does, honestly I don’t have the time or the talent to make really good levels. I just want to play the cool stuff other people make, and I don’t see many of the best LBP geniuses taking the time to make levels for this version when they could be doing it on a PS3.
While it isn’t as striking as its predecessor, this is still one hell of a 2D platformer. The brilliantly designed levels crisscross the globe, leading up to a Hollywood-style ending that casts SackBoy as a stuffed action hero. Many of them exceed the standards set on the PS3, particularly in the switch puzzles, which seem to be a bigger focus for this game. Aside from the predictably great art design, every level throws an ingenious new spin on familiar jumping and swinging mechanics. Those who were frustrated by the sometimes wobbly controls will be pleased to note that the physics on platforms has been radically toned down, making this play more like the precise, old-school platformers we grew up with.
There’s so much that can still be done with this genre, and Cambridge Studio maintains a high standard of quality from beginning to end. Great platformers are a rare breed these days, so I hope PSP owners take a chance on this pint-sized powerhouse.
I’m glad to report that, while it might not be the classic that the
original is, LittleBigPlanet PSP is something we see far too rarely on
the system: a well-made and captivating platformer.