LittleBigPlanet on the PS3 was one of the more pleasant surprises in the industry last year. While the PS3 certainly lags behind systems like the Wii in terms of casual appeal, it was fantastic to have a game come about for the fledging system that encouraged easy to pick up and play controls, loads of easy to use customization options, brilliant platformer gameplay all wrapped into a presentation so sugary sweet it'll rot your teeth.
Fortunately, it seems like the PSP version is on track to not only continue its predecessor's legacy, but advance it in a few unique ways.
Gameplay wise, LBP on the PSP (I'm a poet and don't I know it), is almost exactly like the original title. The game is played on a two dimensional plane and generally follows the time tested Mario and Sonic conventions of moving either to the right or upwards. Where LBP differentiates itself is in the fantastic physics and customizable environments, both of which have made it to the PSP intact. The jumps, movement, and on the fly customization all felt polished and responsive during our hands-on session. Honestly, the only real difference we found in the port from the PS3 version is that the game takes place on two planes (front and back), while the PS3 version was front, middle, and back. Not exactly a huge sacrifice for LBP on the go.
All of the customization options from designing your character, to splattering stickers all over the environment, to building full levels from scratch have also made the portable migration without a hitch. While levels built for the PS3 will not be compatible (due to the aforementioned difference in available planes), the incredibly active LBP community will no doubt embrace the portable title too. With over a million user created levels for the original game, it's not much of a stretch to assume that you'll never run out of new levels to play.
Sony assures us that level sharing will be a total snap, allowing players to trade levels over local ad hoc, through the PSP's infrastructure mode, or by connecting the PSP to a PC and downloading levels directly from the LBP website. Sony also confirmed that there will be the same number of customizable items in the portable version.
Unfortunately, Sony remained mum on the possibility of actual multiplayer mode, but maintained that it could possibly be something that they add through DLC at a later date if it doesn't ship with the game.
Probably the most shocking aspect of the game is how closely it resembles it's console counterpart. The graphics are simply fantastic. The sack people are beautifully animated and the levels are nicely detailed with lots of acitvitiy, animations, and very well defined textures that bring the PSP's screen to life. I'm sure when the graphics are blown up on a TV it won't look as good, but the game is real showcase for the power of the PSP. The fact that the game has a beautiful art style loaded with whimsy is just the icing on a delicious cake. Only issue we found was the load times were excessively long, as much as two or three minutes, but that's to be expected with a preview build. We were assured that the load times would be trimmed down in time for release.
For LBPs many fans, the idea of taking their adorable little sackboys and girls on the go is a fantastic one. Fortunately, Media Molecule and Sony truly appear to be on the right track with this one. LittleBigPlanet will be released both on UMD and digital download on November 17.