LittleBigPlanet: Still fresh and ingenious

LittleBigPlanet and Vita are a perfect match.
LittleBigPlanet and Vita are a perfect match.

Sony's powerful, feature-laden handheld has been largely ignored by the public since its release over six months ago. The lack of must-have software has been the most common criticism, so the wildly creative, ambitious and immensely fun LittleBigPlanet is the perfect antidote.

Big-screen games can often feel shoehorned and compromised when moved to a handheld, but Vita feels like a natural home for LittleBigPlanet.

The game really benefits from the array of different control mechanisms, including the touch-screen, rear touch pad and even the tilt sensors.

And the dazzling screen beautifully showcases the rich, vibrant and tactile tapestries of LittleBigPlanet levels.

The platform-leaping obstacle courses are hugely inventive and contain more variety than previous instalments, providing constant surprises, giggles and delights.

New ideas are constantly introduced and tossed aside almost as quickly - reminiscent of the Super Mario Galaxy games.

The 40-odd levels can be demanding (and previous critics of the physics system will still grumble) although laughter is more common than frustration, especially when you are able to find (local or online) friends to play with.

In addition to running, jumping, grabbing and swinging you will find Sackboy hurling bombs, firing rockets, using grappling hooks, swimming, racing and much more.

There are also many fun mini-games to unlock and enjoy.

Of course, the charming, ready-made levels littered with collectibles also serve as inspiration for your own creations.

Users have hand-crafted millions of their own LittleBigPlanet levels since the original game was released in 2008, and now there's even more tools to utilise, although sadly the PS3 levels aren't compatible with Vita.

Many tasks that were previously very fiddly with a joypad are now much more simple thanks to the touch screen, and budding games designers will find few limits on their imaginations.

There's even a new feature that allows you to save player progress when connecting levels, which allows for deeper story-driven adventures and RPG-style stat-building.

Such a powerful and flexible creation tool still has an intimidating learning curve, so be prepared to invest plenty of time and patience.

You might also experience performance issues when the scale of your hand-made creations gets larger.

The good news is that even ridiculously over-ambitious or feebly primitive creations can be terrific fun to build and amusing to play.

Better still, the further expansion of the toolset is almost certain to lead to a new explosion of user-generated levels for all to enjoy - this is a game you will get plenty of value from.

LittleBigPlanet on Vita feels as fresh and ingenious as the original PS3 game, and represents a must-buy for early adopters and a very compelling reason for others to consider investing in Sony's handheld.

It's the definitive version in the popular series.

What have you been playing lately?

- Jason Hill

twitter Jason Hill is on Twitter: @thatjason

This story LittleBigPlanet: Still fresh and ingenious first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.