The original Little Big Planet on the PlayStation 3 boasted so many novel ideas that even though this new PSP game has made some concessions, it's still a great game. Sony's Cambridge Studio has managed to re-create the gameplay of the Media Molecule-developed original, while crafting its own great Story mode and making some gameplay tweaks as well. Some of the key tenets of the PS3 game have been removed, including multiplayer, the ability to manipulate Sackboy's arms and hips, and some of the more advanced sharing features. Given the limitations of the PSP hardware though, the game does a good job of translating most of the key features of the original and should please fans of the series and newcomers alike.
You can't manipulate Sackboy as much as you could on the PS3, but he's still as adorable as ever.
Little Big Planet is a side-scrolling platformer where you run, jump, and grab hold of objects in order to progress. As Sackboy, you have to leap across gaps, avoid deadly traps, and jump on the heads of enemies--familiar mechanics for anyone who has ever played a platformer. Little Big Planet's twist is its handmade aesthetic--not only in terms of the charming visuals, but also in the "anything goes" level design. One moment you might be chased by an angry dragon, and the next you'll be racing a magic carpet or flying a hot-air balloon. There is a story in each of the seven worlds, with recurring themes and characters, but they exist only to serve the outlandish ideas. Thankfully, the game constantly throws new ideas and situations at you, so you never really know what you're going to be doing next.
It's not just the designers who have been afforded this creativity, either; your enjoyment of the game hinges on your interest in customising every aspect of the world. You can completely redesign Sackboy with new clothes and accessories--and even the material he's made from. The world is also manipulatable; you can place stickers on any physical object, and placing them on special switch triggers allows you to open up new areas and collect more stickers and Sackboy accessories. This self-perpetuation works well, because you find more content as you progress, which in turn allows you to go back to earlier levels and collect even more stuff.
These concepts should be familiar to players of the PS3 game, but even they will be surprised at how close the PSP version is to its PS3 big brother. Both games have similarly epic levels, technically and artistically impressive visuals, and plenty of physics-based puzzles. The 30 levels in the PSP version are all completely new, and while there's nothing within them that's startlingly different, the level design is at least on a par with the original. The PSP game even improves on it in some ways--Sackboy now only moves between foreground and background, which reduces the fiddly nature of the three planes from the PS3 version, but doesn't completely eradicate it. Also, instead of giving you a limited number of lives at each checkpoint, the PSP version simply deducts 100 points from your score when you die, making the game much less frustrating overall.
Physics-based puzzles play a large part of Little Big Planet's level design, and aside from a few annoyances, they're good fun.