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LittleBigPlanet Vita – Small wonders

Submitted by on March 1, 2013 – 11:25 pmNo Comment

LittleBigPlanet Vita - Small wondersLittleBigPlanet Vita – Small wonders, That’s not to say that it’s terribly different from its predecessors. You’ll still find the same physics-based platforming, robust building tools, and customization options as before. Rather than redefining the franchise, LittleBigPlanet Vita is more of a “greatest hits” compendium of everything Media Molecule built in previous incarnations, with a few welcome bits of tinkering to improve the already-strong formula.

The most significant addition is the use of the Vita’s touch controls, allowing an assortment of new mechanics. Unlike many Vita games, the touch applications are actually additive to the LittleBigPlanet Vita experience. These range from flicking timer switches or tugging on a spring, thereby pushing a block into the background and out of the way. Or, you might use the rear touch panel to push a block forward, creating a new platform. Stages that rely on a healthy mix of these mechanics are among the strongest in the game’s repertoire.

Touch controls could have easily felt frustrating or out of place but, aside from the inevitable screen smudges, they were never distracting. It always felt like an organic part of the experience and added an active layer to the traditional platforming. Best of all, it made perfect sense in the context of the game, since the proportions of the found-object scenery usually conformed to the size of my fingers. It felt, essentially, like I was reaching inside the Vita to impact the world.

The touch features are also used to aid in the creation mode, which is largely borrowed from LittleBigPlanet 2. It features many of the same functions, albeit with easier photo importing thanks to the Vita’s built-in camera. Editing can be performed by pinching or stretching using the touch screen, but I found the dual sticks easier to use and more precise. The touch functionality is a concession to the device’s abilities, and I’m sure some creators will get more use out of it than I did.

LittleBigPlanet Vita also packs a variety of touch-based mini-games via the Arcade. Some of these are clear shots at popular games on the mobile market, and the whole notion carries a distinct “me too” feel. Many of the games come with similar level select screens and three stars to collect for a perfect score. “Tapling,” in particular, feels like a darker incarnation of games like Angry Birds, which focus on planning the arc of a jump. The mini-games, however, also serve as a clever and subtle showcase for the robust creation tools, as pieces of the engine occasionally peek out from the periphery. No two Arcade games are alike, and none of them feel like the series’ standard platforming. They range from a retro-styled space shooter to a quick-reflexes marble puzzle game, making the set as a whole an excellent display of LittleBigPlanet Vita’s flexibility.

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