In a world where so many games are dark, nasty, and profane, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy something brighter for a change. If you’re getting sick of grim and mean-spirited games, a cute little platformer like LittleBigPlanet may just be the cure.
What will hit players at once is the cuddly aesthetic of the game, having a distinct ‘homemade’ feel; levels are made to look as if they were constructed with craft materials like felt and wool, creating a very pleasant environment. Don’t confuse the graphical direction as being childish, though; there’s much for both young and old to love here.
Aiding with the warm and comforting presentation is the narrator of the game, played by the wonderfully paternal Stephen Fry, whose dulcet voice fits the happy-go-lucky world of LittleBigPlanet. Indeed, this game looks and sounds like a beautiful piece of craft work, and it’s hard not to fall in love with what it does.
However, above all, LittleBigPlanet is still a game, and that’s what must be looked at most critically. Crushingly, if you peel away the look and feel of the game, what we have is a fairly standard platformer with controls that aren’t as lithe and responsive as you’d expect them to be. The levels and characters are uninspired, based on real-world countries and unfortunate racial stereotypes (see Uncle Jalapeño, the flatulent Mexican bandito in a lowrider). However, the game does provide enough of a challenge to be worth a look, especially in the infamous Bunker level, which is capable of making grown men cry.
The game does have at least one saving grace by way of customisation. Namely, you can make your own levels, make your own outfits for Sackboy – anything. Let your imagination run free. You can share your work online, where you can also find over two million user-created levels. That is ultimate replayability.
LittleBigPlanet is by no means a perfect package – it is, at heart, a platformer, and the platforming is average; but give it a chance. The aesthetic and the potential for good community levels will be enough to win you over.