Sackboy is the star of LittleBigPlanet, a game developed by Media Molecule exclusively for Sony's PlayStation 3. This little doll, made out of a burlap sack, is your avatar to explore a revolutionary new video game. The game is so good, that for some, it could be a platform maker, meaning if you don't own a PlayStation 3, you might want to get one, just to explore this game.
For $59.99, you get three games for the price of one, with all three parts fitting together seamlessly. In the first part, you will experience a 2D platformer that rivals the best of Mario and Kirby games. In the second part, you become a video game designer; and in the third, you participate in a robust community of others who are designing new LittleBigPlanet levels to play.
When entering LittleBigPlanet, a magical place where everyone's dreams are stored, you start in the Story mode. You appear as Sackboy or Sackgirl, an emoting avatar who you design to become your hero, experimenter, and builder.
The Story part of the game takes you to eight different worlds with over 20 levels of creative 2D platform puzzles. Your goal is to figure out how to move through each environment. These environments are filled with crazy contraptions and fascinating, craft material-like scenery, much of which reacts to your movements. You will quickly realize that this is a real-world physics environment that can be manipulated. With your Sackperson leading the charge, you will learn to run, jump, and even grab hold of and move objects in this world. You will also find tons of objects to collect, which are hidden in bubbles that you pop. Those collectibles become important in the second part of the game because they're the building blocks of game creation.
In this Story mode, tutorials abound, told by the characters or shown through hilarious videos. Each world has a different cultural flavor reflecting different parts of our real world so, in one, you'll be crawling up African animals and in another, over temples. Up to four people can explore these worlds together.
After you have made it through the first world's three levels, you can visit the MyMoon, the place to create user-generated game levels. The objects you collected in the Story mode appear in your Goodies Bag, and they are now available for use in creating your own game level. By going through tutorials in this part of the game, you earn even more goodies, including shapes, craft materials, tools, and stickers. You can put together objects in a variety of ways using string, glue, bolts, rods, winches, and more. You can start with a blank canvas or use an existing template from the Story mode. Depending on your interest, you can create something quickly in under an hour, or spend days tweaking it so that it will earn you bragging rights with friends. Once you are finished, you can upload your level online to share.
The third part of the game, the multiplayer online sharing aspect, is accessed from the InfoMoon, which unlocks at the same time as MyMoon. From there you can select Quick Play to be whisked away to a random level where up to four other online players join you. This is also where you can explore the online community of user-generated game levels. You can search for levels by game creators, or by using keywords like "Brilliant" or "Easy." You can rate other levels and view the scores and comments of others. "Little Big Planet" uses a community monitoring system called "Griefing" where anyone can report content that is inappropriate.
What makes this game so good is the combination of the three parts. The platform gaming is unusual and at times brilliant, but it isn't perfect. The controls are a little floaty so you will fall off things when you don't expect to and die. When you die, you are "respawned" at the closest checkpoints. For each checkpoint you have a limited number of lives so occasionally, when you have hit a particularly challenging section, you may use up all of your lives and have to replay the whole level again. This is not a major complaint, particularly because there is so much to see in this funky craft world. The bottom line is that the Story mode is good enough to justify buying the game, even if it is all you play.
The building area is likewise fascinating and deep – a wannabe game designer's dream. However, it may not appeal to children and casual gamers who don't have the patience to work through all the tutorials. But that's OK, because the user-generated content is there to explore, which will provide endless possibilities of new levels.
Parents, since the some of the user-generated content is being created by imaginative, and sometimes naughty teens and adults, if your child or tween wants to explore this part of the game, you might want to join them so that you can avoid inappropriate levels that have yet to be caught by the "Griefing" process of monitoring.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.