I am going to be open and state immediately that I am not an aficionado of platformer games. As a child, I was deprived of the likes of Mario and Luigi due to my family being refugees from various conflicts/civil unrests. When the choice is between eating and owning a gaming console, my parents stuck firmly to the ideal of avoiding malnutrition. I have tried They Bleed Pixels at a friend’s place, but I’ve never really explored the genre of my own accord. It is with this limited frame of reference that I tried my hand at the third instalment in Sony’s Little Big Planet series, the aptly named; Little Big Planet 3.
From my first impression of the demo, the game look like it has a lot of polish and work put into it. The controls are slick and responsive enough that even a non-console gamer like yours truly can jump through the levels with relative proficiency. This is a game which was designed for gamers with less experience (i.e. children), which means that complicated mechanics and a difficult learning curve are not features you can expect from this game. There is an element of skill involved in the game as to collect all the points and stickers in a level, players do need to have some skill in traversing their environments. The collectibles and stickers are mainly to unlock new costumes and level design options. As I threw the main character, Sackboy, around the level, I was informed by a Sony spokesperson that all previous user generated content and levels from the previous games would be compatible with the new game. Effectively this means that newcomers and fans to the series alike will have a swath of content to get through beyond the official levels, which will come with the game.
Besides these new levels, the game also introduces three new playable characters with their own unique gameplay mechanics. Among the lineup is ‘Oddsock’, who appears to be a dog creature who moves fast and can wall-jump. Another is Swoop, who can fly and pick up and carry other characters and light objects. Toggle rounds out this band of mismatching misfits and has the ability to shapeshift from a big and small version of himself. In his big form, Toggle can push down switches, while in his little form he can move faster and run along the surface of water. Sackboy also receives a new ability in that he can now climb ladders in the background. There are also a number of power-ups which can be collected to give new and improved abilities to the characters.
These new characters and mechanics will no doubt provide budding level designers with a lot of new options to come up with creative and challenging levels. Unfortunately, I was not able to try out the level editor in the demo so I have no idea what changes have been effected in that area of the game… but considering the overall polish and production values, I’m fairly certain it’s pretty darn good.
What I was able to try out in the demo was a couple of the levels with some of the new characters and mechanics. While playing as Oddsock, the demo level was designed to showcase their speed and manoeuvrability. I was able to run up walls and then wall jump up to higher areas. Speed was also important as various sections would collapse and cause me to respawn if I fell. Death is not particularly frightening or scary and everything is very family friendly.
After I cleared the level with Oddsock (having missed alot of stickers and points along the way), I moved on to another level which showcased Toggle’s shapeshifting mechanic. The level made use of the weight mechanic extensively as I stood on and pushed down switches and levers. Switching quickly between the small and big forms of Toggle also allowed for an interesting jumping mechanic where Toggle would sink in water in his big form and then fly up and out in his bouyant little form to jump over obstacles and reach collectibles. I thought this was a clever implementation of the mechanic to create fun level design.
Overall, what I’ve seen of the game appears to be quite fun with good production values. Little Big Planet 3 will be released in November in time for holiday celebrations.
For more of our EB Expo coverage, click here.