Sack boy goes portable
Sony's PS Vita is a great piece of gaming bling, but it's seriously lacking must-play games.
In fact, since its launch earlier this year, very few games have cried out "You must own me and play me". I can pick probably three games Vita owners should have, and many of them are ports from games that have appeared on home consoles. The most innovative game for the Vita so far is Gravity Rush.
The Vita was all but neglected at this year's E3 gaming expo, and to make matters worse, the handheld's worldwide sales are severely lagging behind its handheld rival, Nintendo's 3DS.
The Vita needs good games to bolster its flagging fortunes and Little Big Planet Vita, which is out next month, could just be that game. It's mobile LBP: what's not to love?
PS3 LBP developer Media Molecule has handed development to Tarsier Studios and in the preview code I've been playing, it has done a brilliant job in capturing the LBP magic.
British actor Stephen Fry is back as narrator, and once again he does a superb job, making light-hearted remarks and providing colourful commentary to a game already bursting with vibrancy. Opening levels have all the clever puzzles you'd expect - playable pianos and xylophones have keys that make a note when Sack boy steps on them - and LBP Vita makes great use of the Vita's touch capabilities, too. You push blue-coloured blocks and pull down on blue spring-loaded blocks using the front touch screen and push green blocks using the rear touch screen. It feels natural and doesn't seem tacked on for the sake of it.
The opening levels act as the tutorial, and as in the home console version there's a lighthearted, humorous feel to the whole thing: when Sack boy makes his first jump across a chasm to grab a swinging block, an unseen crowd cheers enthusiastically when he succeeds.
You can customise your Sack boy with a variety of fabrics and accessories, and pressing the handheld's D-pad causes your Sack boy to grimace, smile or appear frightened.
Unlockable locations include a world called The Arcade, which features video-game inspired places: One is a horror-themed world with blob-like monsters where you control a black blob that has to free imprisoned white blobs. It's weird but strangely addictive.
One of the biggest appeals of Little Big Planet is the level creation - and it still is for players - where you make your own levels and share them with the world. So it is with the Vita version, and while it'll take some serious investment to get to grips with the sometimes complex creation tools, it's just another reason to buy LBP Vita. This is where you can create your wildest G-rated fantasies for all the world to see.
LBP Vita captures the charm of the original, which I'm delighted with. It's out on September 20.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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