One of the more alluring Vita titles at Sony’s E3 booth this year was LittleBigPlanet. The pick-up and play gameplay makes it a natural fit for a portable. Additionally, the colorful visuals combined with a dreamy aesthetic look stunning on the Vita’s vibrant OLED display.
In terms of core mechanics, the Vita edition of LittleBigPlanet plays similar to its PS3 brethren, while also taking advantage of the touch screen and tilt functionality on Vita. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen it demonstrated, as Sony announced the title ahead of the Vita debut at E3 last year. Regardless, the E3 2012 demo featured more than a few levels, each designed to highlight a particular play style.
The first level I went hands-on with was your typical platforming affair, with touch elements added in. Scattered about were platforms that could be used as a spring to propel Sackboy into the air by dragging the platform down with your finger. It’s worth noting that the touch controls were quite responsive, it never felt as if there was any delay to the movement at all. Sometimes, mixing button-based controls with required touch gestures can be a bit of a nuisance, but at least with LittleBigPlanet, the mashup works well. It never became a chore to use the touch controls.
Moving on to the second level represented a change of pace. It was a mini-game featuring a pair of boxing robots. For this level, players hold the Vita sideways, with each player using the analog sticks for movement and nearby button sets to attack. Fairly basic, but neat to see nonetheless. Certainly gives a glimpse into the wealth of possibilities that the built-in level creator will offer.
The last level I tried shifted gears to the tilt functionality. It involved navigating a spinning object through a series of winding paths. The controls were pretty self-explanatory, tilt the Vita to pick up speed and proceed to the next area. There was the option of activating a quick speed boost by pressing R, which was required for breaking through some projectiles.
All in all, the E3 2012 demo of LittleBigPlanet made a good showcase for the capabilities of Vita. It’ll be really exciting to see what level creators do with the added functionality, especially with the ‘Memorizer’ feature that allows players to save progress in user-created levels. Unfortunately, Sony still hasn’t committed to a firm release date, but the rep I spoke with said it’ll definitely be out sometime this year. Here’s hoping it arrives sooner rather than later. The wide appeal of LittleBigPlanet, combined with copious amounts of replayability thanks to community content make it a much-needed title in the Vita lineup.