Sony have tried to get a mascot that can match that of SEGA and Nintendo ever since they stepped into the console market. Jak, Daxter, Ratchet, Clank, Crash and more. All of those are good characters but none as iconic for Sony as Mario and Sonic are to their companies. When they introduced Little Big Planet on the PS3, Sackboy was to become that mascot and to some degree he has.
Sony have been able to market him well, with his games and various bits of merchandise. Yet he still isn’t at those Mario levels yet.
The main reason for this are the games themselves, Little Big Planet was a very interesting game, it looked (and still does) beautiful, the textures were almost lifelike and Sackboy had a lot of character. All the previews showed a charming game that looked like it would be a ton of fun to play and create things in.
The problem with previous LBP games are that whilst the creation tools are amazing, they were also difficult to get used to and the gameplay just lacked that something. It was fun enough but simply not memorable, thanks to some floaty controls and frustrating moments. That was improved on in the Vita release which was recognised by many as the best version of the series yet.
So on to Little Big Planet 3.
What you have here is essentially more of the same, a series of pre-made levels set out in a story environment, access to a community hub to find user created levels and the ability to create your own. There have been a few tweaks though that do improve things.
First up is the level structure, you still have a hub you must navigate, but now you are given a series of tasks that start in a bigger worlds and take you into deeper levels, where you eventually complete said quests. It is a nice change from the usual, select this, go to that, do this here and back to another menu.
Obviously though, the biggest change is the introduction of new characters and a potential marketing goldmine for Sony. Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop join Sackboy on his journey and add a bunch of interesting new mechanics. Swoop can fly, toggle can shrink or grown and Oddsock can wall-jump and other things. It does a nice job of introducing new things, but there is a minor niggle here.
The characters are introduced one by one, after you complete level to ‘rescue’ them, they can then be used to find the next and so on and so forth. The problem here, is that is pretty much a main structure of the game. You actually spend little time with the new characters as part of the main arc and whilst you can go back to old levels to replay them, it feels a bit of a letdown.
Having said that though, the new characters are wonderful and Oddsock is hard not to fall in love with, he acts like a big stupid puppy and whilst Swoop and Toggle have personality, it is Oddsock that stands out the most. Hell we want out own little Oddsock to sit with the Sackboy that is on the shelf right now.
What is interesting too, is thar the characters to fit well into this world and there is surely more to come from them. Whether that be a load of DLC levels, Little Big Planet 4 or some kind of spin off series. When Sonic started to introduce ‘friends’ it became the beginning of the end for him, but this could well be something that help proper Sackboy to the next level.
Little Big Planet 3 is compatible with all previous DLC including costumes, which is a nice tough, it is also compatible with older community created levels, which whilst again is nice to see, actually causes a few issues. There have been tweaks to the gameplay that are for the better, but it also makes some older created levels pretty much broken, purely based on the clash between new mechanics and old. The fear is that in trying their hardest to be fair with already purchased DLC, they are holding future iterations of the game back a little.
At this point, many wouldn’t be overly annoyed it the next Little Big Planet was completely standalone, as long as the gameplay warranted that. The next game really does have to nail the platforming mechanics because whilst improved the floaty feeling is still there, which is a crying shame.
There is something about a Little Big Planet game that keeps you coming back and despite a few flaws, it is still a great game to play. However it is a game that is best shared and not one for playing on your own. Sitting down with family is a wonderful experience and thanks to some clever creators, there really is an endless supply of content.