LittleBigPlanet Portable Hands-On ImpressionsBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Sep 30, 2009
During a recent press event in here in Los Angeles, Sony showed off a new build of the PlayStation Portable version of Media Molecule’s critically acclaimed platformer, LittleBigPlanet. I was actually able to check out the game on a PSP Go, and the level on display was the Australian outback themed (and aptly titled) “Down Under.”
First off, LBP Portable translates very well to the PSP Go, mainly because the controls are identical to those of the console version. The thumb-nub is responsive and allows for smooth navigation of your Sackboy or Sackgirl. The face buttons are equally responsive, so jumping and grabbing objects is a breeze. Since there isn’t a second thumbstick, resizing objects and stickers is handled with a click of the shoulder button and then using the thumb nub to manipulate the size and orientation. It takes a few minutes to get used to, but then it’s second nature.
The game itself feels great. Some players might still find the jumping physics a bit floaty, but I never really had that much of an issue with the console version, so naturally I didn’t mind it this time around. What’s truly impress is how much of the console game’s design, style, and mechanics made the transition to the PSP. And while it obviously doesn’t contain all of the visual detail of the PS3 version, the game sports a clean, crisp presentation, and is impressively detailed. LBP Portable also brings with it all of the creation tools found in LBP, so you’ll be able to build your own levels and share them with other players online whenever and wherever you want. Sadly, Sony wasn’t showing off the level editor during the event, so I have no idea how level-building translates over the portable side compared to the console game.
The two major differences, at least as far as I can tell at this point, is the lack of multiplayer support and the fact that the game adheres to a two-plane layout as opposed to the three planes found in the console version. No multiplayer is kind of a bummer, but considering that the game features 30 new levels and a crazily robust level editor, it’s a bit easier to forgive. The double-planed issue is another understandable limitation of the game. Sure, having a foreground, mid-ground and background to jump between gave the original game an elegant sense of depth and maneuverability, but from what I saw, it seems that SCE Studio Cambridge has made it a point to use every ounce of space available to make the game feel as much like the original as possible. In other words, expect to see a bit more obstruction-based puzzle solving this time around.
Even though I was only able to play one level (I hoarded it and played through it three times), I still came away thoroughly impressed with what the developers have managed to do in bringing such a unique, stylish and console-defining platformer to a portable system. I’m still very interested in seeing how the level editor feels mapped to the PSP Go controls, but that will have to wait for another day. For now, I'm quite interested in LittleBigPlanet Portable.