In retrospect, it doesn’t seem like much of a shocker that Sony would bring LittleBigPlanet from the PS3 to the PSP. After all, the publisher has drafted handheld versions of several of its top-selling HD franchises. It’s also fortunate that, based on my five-minute demo, the core gameplay in LittleBigPlanet (or as I type in shorthand, “LBPSP”) seems to translate exceptionally well to a new platform.
Although Media Molecule has assisted with a great deal of input, it’s another UK-based studio that’s at the helm of this portable version. Sony’s Cambridge studio is hard at work on adapting Sackboy’s adventures to a new format. So far, so good. I tried out “Gift of the Grab,” an Australian-themed level that evokes the same sort of cultural motifs seen in the PS3 game. At this stage, the demo showed off the barebones essentials of how the new LBP plays and feels, but not much else.
Sackboy moves and jumps with a similar degree of heft, and he can latch onto objects in the environment in the same way that he can in the console version. I noticed it as I clung him onto giant quilted boomerangs and used them to leap onto platforms. Flipping switches is the same, as well. Although it was very limited in my demo, the pop-it menu still works, and I slapped a few stickers around the stage to mark my territory (and unlock a few more collectible bubbles). There weren’t any options to customize my Sackboy with funny moustaches or wacky hats, but the pop-it menu seems to indicate that we shouldn’t see anything different from the console game in this regard.
Oddly enough, it’s what I didn’t see that leaves me most curious about the game. The demo was designed mainly to show off the core gameplay, which certainly impressed me. However, Sony was coy about the details regarding the rest of the game. I got confirmation that online level sharing will be available for this handheld version, and you can expect some in-depth level creation on handheld. I’m most curious to see how the team will cram this much information onto a tiny UMD (or implement it into a download). Will there be additional free downloadable content to increase the breadth and depth of what you can build? Tight lips from the company for now.
Overall, I’m happy with the fundamentals of LittleBigPlanet on PSP. It’s just as simple and intuitive to control on handheld as it is on the home system, from jumps, leaps, and grabs to pulling out the pop-it menu. But this is just a first taste, and I have more unanswered questions about the other features of the game. Hopefully we’ll have answers sooner rather than later.