Getting touchy-feely with Sackboy-No wait, I meant-Please Officer, remove the handcuffs, this is all a misunderstanding!
Pull this, tap that, press here, tilt there—the platforming demo for LittleBigPlanet on Playstation Vita asks you to do a lot more than navigate Sackboy through the standard jumps, swings, and bubble collecting. It suggests a game that makes use of the Vita’s features in creative ways and opens up even greater possibilities for level design by the series' community of amateur designers.
As usual, the game will expect the player to interact directly with the environment. Moving Sackboy onto a block beneath a long drop, an arrow pointing downward instructs the player to drag the block down on the touchscreen and let it go to spring Sackboy up into the next area. Another area above a canyon full of spikes involves using the Vita’s gyroscope, tilting the device to one side to make a basket slide above one side of the pit to the other.
Probably the most interesting innovation is a section with a platform above and, in the background a group of Tetris-style blocks. By tapping the touchpad on the back of the Vita, the blocks will pop forward so that Sackboy can jump up to the higher platform. If the wrong block gets popped forward, all it takes is a tap to the touchscreen on the front to move it back into the background. Sony better watch out—if it makes the game even more interactive, the fans might remember how much fun it is to play with blocks and go buy some.
Some of the features took me a moment to figure out, with only arrows and the expectation that the player had previously played a LittleBigPlanet game. However, it’s hard to imagine that the retail version won’t have the delightful voice of Stephen Fry to guide the player through the basics in the finished product. Yes, that’s right, I welcome the thought of a middle-aged British man telling me how to play a video game. The more you know.
The rest of the demo features a series of levels that seem primed to show the possibilities of touch-based level design to the game’s audience of amateur level designers. Most of these are single-screen mini-games. One of them is an air-hockey clone, another a driving game, and a puzzle game where an angry squid sends tiny squids down a series of shoots. The shoots each had a switch near the bottom that could be pressed on the touchscreen, flipping a door that would change the track so that the little squid could be directed to the end that was the same color. Lastly, there is a longer, maze-like underwater level, where Sackboy, encased in a large bubble, can be directed by pressing the touchscreen with care to avoid spikes or gears that might pop the bubble.
LittleBigPlanet will bring all its platforming cheer with its release alongside the PlayStation Vita on February 22, 2012.