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CONSOLE: PlayStation 3 DEVELOPER: Media Molecule PUBLISHER: Sony Computer Entertainment
RELEASE DATE (NA): October 27, 2008 GENRE: Platformer
// review by SoyBomb


There's something I need to show you.

Yeah, that's right. You can play Star Wars: The Old Republic for free today.

No, wait... that's not what I was talking about. I was referring to the metascore given to LittleBigPlanet! (And, as a sidenote, what is with the horrible genre they're giving to the game? "3D" is NOT a genre.) It's a 95, meaning that, after pooling all the "professional" reviews together and averaging out their scores, you get 95. Not many games reach that particular plateau, and it is quite an honour to achieve such a feat. There must certainly be some wonderful magic in this game that provides universal pleasure and nearly flawless game design that touches the hearts of gamers all around the world.

If there is, it certainly missed this corner. LittleBigPlanet is terrible.

Now I hear you naysayers out there seeking my head to be planted squarely on a pike, burning effigies of my body while chanting my name with bloodlust in the eyes. You're saying, "SoyBomb... um... you are stupid." And to them, I say, "No, I am not stupid. I found flaws with this game, and those flaws were so glaring that I simply could not live with myself had I followed the masses and opted to rate the game highly."

As a royal collect-a-thon, LittleBigPlanet definitely has you covered. Every level features more stickers and miscellaneous objects than you could ever want. Really. In fact, at the end of the stage, you're graded by a percentage on how much stickery loot you've picked up. The number of stickers and such is immense, and it's fun being able to attach them immediately to pretty much anything around you, both in levels and in your own pod, a makeshift "stage select" headquarters made of cardboard. The stickers are held in bubbles all about, some being easy to grab, while others seem far away, like when you drop your ice cream cone into a chasm. There are also all these green bubbles... can't really tell what they are... and by collecting them, you increase your score at the end. Completing a stage also gives you your world ranking, if you're connected to the PlayStation Network. At least I'm generally in the top 500... 000...

As a level editor, LittleBigPlanet is a construction worker's dreamscape. The world becomes your proverbial oyster. With the aid of our upholstered hero, Sackboy — yes, the main character is a woven doll with beady eyes and a given waggling tongue — you can create your own stages to your heart's content and share it with the world online. Developing absolutely fiendish obstacle courses is fairly simple. Plunk stickers on there to show off your funky unique style... that the game told you to have. You can even add your own graphics if LittleBigPlanet's ensemble of pictorial slapportunities is unsatisfactory. I can already tell that people have gone wild for this feature, as well over five million levels have been created by fans. I played one centred around The Simpsons. It was... existent.

As a, urr-hrrrm... platformer, LittleBigPlanet's extremely weak. In fact, it's a bit of an embarrassment, really. Level editors and collection duties should really take a backseat to the basic gameplay of a video game. That's part of video game law! It's decreed... somewhere.

Those skulls speak the truth: this game can be deadly at times.

I could ramble on endlessly about the torments I faced while playing the various stages on LittleBigPlanet's Story mode, but much like the prattling of the narrator (voiced by Stephen Fry), it would get old rather quickly. So let's get straight to the point: Sackboy controls like a German Shepherd on fire. He has the jumping ability of a duck: he CAN do it, but it really takes some effort. Sackboy's response time is impressively slow, and so your jump timing often will fail. Jumping is key to movement in this type of game, and it failed me one too many times, resulting in mad curses at the television.

Worse yet, Sackboy is not only a poor jumper, but he's also impressively floaty. Am I controlling Sackboy or SackCloud? No, it can't be the latter; that would get the Final Fantasy VII fanatics overexhilarated. The physics simply don't feel right; the majority of deaths are caused because he did not follow my directions. Go left. Go right. Jump up. Not exactly rocket science. Another issue came with layering the screen. Sackboy can hop between the background, "midground", and the foreground (or three different x-axes for those in the math know), and although the concept is neat, putting it into practice can cause irritating headaches when Sackboy either fails to respond or pops into a different axis by axi-dent. See... see what I did there? At least some mechanics work well enough, like grasping things with the L1/R1 buttons.

Still, I could go so far as to say that this game holds some of the worst gameplay controls I've ever experienced in a supposedly simple 2D platformer. Actually, I just did. There. Flay me. Filet me. Phyllo me. Fiddle-dee-dee me. Ski-Ba-Bop-Ba-Dop-Bop me.

And these controls just make the rest of the game feel hopeless as well. The unlocked bonus games throughout Story mode are made much more difficult than they ought to be, and it made me want to avoid them more than anything else. Getting a final score of zero on one of these stages remains one of the most depressing moments in my life.

LittleBigPlanet relies far too much on hipster charm and its diverse and unconventional art style. Having environments soaked in fab fabrics and horrible 70s decor is all well and good, but visual gimmickry such as that does not automatically equate to a great game. (And it's a shame some characters you meet border on being racist, which doesn't help their case.) I do have to give credit to the developer for choosing some of the most out-of-sorts music to accompany levels. Kudos to whomever selected the song "Cornman" by Kinky to be part of the soundtrack. I hadn't heard of it before, but I'm a better person now because of it. Be sure to check out that funky song!

I wanted to love LittleBigPlanet. And it wanted me to love it. But after it screwed up the basic elements of platforming gameplay, it was beyond redemption. LittleBigPlanet, with its three capitalized letters in one word when it should have spaces, was a very rough ride. I recommend visiting a different planet. I hear Jupiter has some breathtaking scenery there, although they're still on Season 2 of Game of Thrones. Approach with caution.

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