Release Date: September 19 (Europe), September 25 (North America)
Platforms available on: PS Vita
Developer: Tarsier Studios, Double Eleven
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Genre: Platform Puzzler
Let's get one thing straight: LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is far from a scaled-down console port. While its resembles its older siblings on PlayStation 3, Sackboy's latest adventure plays to its platform's strength in a way that sets it apart from other games in the PlayStation Vita's library. It's the fully-fledged LittleBigPlanet experience in the palm of your hand, which in many ways makes it the series definitive entry.
The PS Vita might seem like a smaller stage, but co-developers Tarsier Studios and Double Eleven have managed to cram just as many creative tools into LittleBigPlanet PS Vita as Media Molecule did with the console editions. It's more of the same whimsical platforming coupled with creative expression, world building and community interaction, yet being able to tap into all of that on the go is something of a big deal.
The story sees Sackboy on a mission to save the marionette world of Carnivalia from an evil puppeteer and his minions. There are five worlds with more than 40 ready-made levels to play through, and this time it doesn't feel like they are merely there for gathering raw materials.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is a game that many can enjoy as a straightforward platformer without ever dipping into its creative features. Of course, these players will only be scratching the surface of what is on offer, but the core gameplay and narrative has come on leaps and bounds.
It's still your simplistic 'get from one end of the screen to the other', but the PS Vita's hardware functions have been seamlessly integrated into the mix for a more absorbing experience. Physics-based puzzles now involved shifting blocks around with the touchscreen, and the device's camera can be used to create custom stickers.
Introducing these elements could have potentially upset the balance, but the organic way the developers implemented them helps the series achieve a new level of immersion. LittleBigPlanet has always been about placing creative tools at players' fingertips, and now they can use them manually.
The online features and dedicated community make the game what it is. You can tackle levels with up to three friends over WiFi, and regular players are bound to make some new ones along the way. Downloaded costumes from LittleBigPlanet and LittleBigPlanet 2 can be carried over to the Vita edition, an inclusion that makes the game feel connected to something bigger.
Creation mode borrows heavily from LittleBigPlanet 2, with a handful of additions and some Vita-specific features. Photo importing is now easier thanks to the on-board camera, while editing can be performed through swipes and pinches of the touch-screen.
There are no fewer than 67 Stephen Fry-voiced tutorials to help creative types construct their own levels and mini-games, which is testament to how convoluted the process can be.
Granted, it's not difficult to put together the most basic of levels, but those hoping to take full advantage of this side of the game must be prepared to put in some intense study. As with anything in life, you get back what you put it, yet some streamlining would have been most welcome in this area.
The Arcade is one of the most noteworthy additions to the world of LittleBigPlanet, playing host to a raft of app-style mini-games. Most of these are user-created, and derived from the standard fare you will find over on Apple's App Store or Google Play.
A feature dubbed the Memorizer saves users progress within these gaming apps, enabling them to dip in and out on the fly - a shrewd inclusion that takes advantage of the Vita's portability.
LittleBigPlanet PS Vita in many ways defines the series. The option to create on the move or jump in and out of user-generated mini-games sees the concept take on a new level of significance, and it makes few compromises along the way. Age-old complaints about the complex nature of content creation still apply, but so does every one of the plus points of the PS3 classic.