Big things in small sacks: LittleBigPlanet for the Vita preview

big things in small sacks littlebigplanet for the vita preview 10464lbp ngp sackboyplanetYears from now, when we are old and decrepit, annoyed by the music of the future whippersnappers that will be too-loud, and bewildered by the gaming systems that our children’s children understand with annoying ease, yet we can barely turn on, we will likely look back to these waning days of traditional console gaming with nostalgia tinted fondness. And when we do, one of the series that will likely stand out as a defining title of this generation of consoles is the Sony exclusive, LittleBigPlanet.

The game came out of nowhere when it first debuted in 2008, and has in many ways defined the PlayStation 3. It combines smooth and solid animations with creative designs, and a huge number of options to customize and share your own creations. That is simply something that could not have easily been done on a console before the PS3, and it is something that PS3 owners have gravitated around. It helps that the platforming controls are masterfully handled, making the series one of the most fun to play. Plus, Sackboy is kinda adorable and makes for a good de facto mascot for the PS3.

So with the franchise among Sony’s best and brightest, it was no surprise to learn that the Vita would soon be getting an iteration of the series.

We had the chance to preview the game through several levels, as well as a look at the level editor and some of the community features. The game itself won’t be out until September 25, but the preview was more than enough to give us a good idea of what to expect, and to see how developers Double Eleven and Tarsier Studios did filling in for Media Molecule.

big things in small sacks littlebigplanet for the vita preview lbp

The game still has a lot it needs to show before we can make any formal decisions on it, but it is not a stretch to say that from the preview alone that LittleBigPlanet on the Vita is going to be an extraordinary game, and should without question be among the best titles on the Vita. It may even be reason enough for some to buy a Vita, but only if you are already a fan of the series and can predict how incredible it could potentially be once the community swings into gear and begins to offer their own creations.

The biggest addition to the series for this version is the inclusion of touchscreen controls—and not just the occasional button hit, but fully integrated controls that are used as part of the gameplay and platforming, for better and worse.

For the most part the inclusion of the Vita’s unique control scheme is exceedingly well handled, and it feels like one of the best translations of any game to the handheld. Rather than just shoehorning them in, or making them very minor additions as many Vita titles — especially those based on existing games — tend to do, LBP attempts to fully use everything the Vita has to offer. Sometimes it doesn’t work, but usually it is ingenious.

One example is the touch screen-centric mini-games, including things like a wack-a-mole like game that has you hit sackboys with your finger(s) when they pop up. It isn’t groundbreaking, but it is a smart use of the potential.

The touch screen controls are also very present in the main missions, and there are even games built around the feature that require you to control the action with the touchscreen only. The mini-games and the larger games that are built around the touch screen function work very well. When it is added to the standard gameplay, however, it can feel a bit forced and unnecessary.

big things in small sacks littlebigplanet for the vita preview

Throughout the general platforming levels, you will come across several blocks that you will interact with via the touchscreen. Sometimes this simply means you move them one way or the other with your finger, occasionally to open up paths, or maybe to put them in position to then jump on. These are typically unobtrusive and even add a bit of variety. There are other times though, where you will face obstacles you can push in a block by touching them on the front touchscreen, or push them out using the rear touchpad. This opens up some new puzzle options, but it can be awkward to take your hand off one of the analog controls. That’s a minor nit to pick. 

Where the touch integration really suffers is when you need to perform multiple actions at once that also include use of  the touch screen. For example, throughout the missions are numerous spring blocks you will stand on, then using the touchscreen you will pull it down and release to shoot you up. Typically this sends you into unknown area, and it is a weird race for your hand to get back into position. The springs are just one example, others include wheels you have to turn while holding onto, which can be very odd. This isn’t a big issue, but it is usually more annoying than enjoyable.

These instances are few and far between though, and where the touchscreen controls will really help is the level creator. Creating levels is what has really made LBP stand out, so how the community embraces the Vita version is what will make the difference between a really good game, and an incredible one. The tools are there though.

Along with those touch screen controls are a few other inclusions of the Vita’s hardware, including the occasional use of the tilt function, as well as the option of using the Vita’s camera. For a game that thrives on customization, this small addition is very, very smart.

big things in small sacks littlebigplanet for the vita preview lbp playstation

But the thing that will make or break this game, beyond the additions, beyond the touch screen additions, is the gameplay—and not just the gameplay in the traditional sense, but gameplay in the LBP fashion. In this, Double Eleven and Tarsier nailed the landing, so to speak. The Vita version feels like a LBP game. The platforming controls are crisp and responsive, and fans of the PS3 games will be able to make the transition smoothly. But beyond that, the game manages to capture the fun, creativity, and charm of the series. It helps that is game is more of an adaptation than a sequel, but it manages to walk the line between sticking with what works and creating new content.


We’ll have to wait until September 25 to see if this game can live up to the potential that it has shown, but the early signs are very, very good. The touchscreen integration is more than just skin deep—which can be a bad thing at times, but is smartly handled for the most part, and it doesn’t feel like the developers grudgingly added touch controls because they had to, a problem many Vita games are plagued with.

LittleBigPlanet for the Vita has the potential to be the best game on the Vita, bar none. A lot of that will rely on how well the finished product turns out, of course, but more than that it will depend on how the fans embrace the Vita, and how much content they add. The potential is there, and LittleBigPlanet is a game you should be paying attention to.

Movies & TV

Stranger Things season 3 teaser proclaims it's almost feeding time in Hawkins

With a sophomore season as strong as its first, Stranger Things is now moving on to season 3. Here's everything we've learned so far about the Netflix series' upcoming third season, premiering in July 2019.

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.

How you can share your best gaming moments with friends on the PS4

Check out Digital Trends' quick guide to everything you need to know to save your outstanding PlayStation 4 gameplay moments, share them online, and transfer them to your computer.

Have an issue with your 3DS? We can help you fix it with these common solutions

The Nintendo 3DS has seen its fair share of issues since it launched in 2011, including poor battery life and fragile Circle Pads. Here are some of the most common, as well as the steps you can take to solve them.

Upcoming zombiefest Days Gone boasts 30-plus hours of story-driven content

Days Gone, the first PlayStation 4 title from Sony's Bend Studio, looks to offer a different type of zombie game. Here's everything we know about the forthcoming title, from the setting to its gameplay.

Need to perform a factory reset on your Xbox One console? Here's how to do it

Whether you're upgrading to a One X and giving your old console to a friend, or troubleshooting a technical issue, sometimes your Xbox One needs a clean slate. Here's our quick guide on how to factory reset an Xbox One.

Is Google launching a game-streaming service? Watch our GDC livestream to see

Google is presenting its 2019 GDC keynote on March 19. Here is how you can tune in to watch the event, as well as what could be shown during the presentation. Google's Project Stream service could be on the agenda.

New character Octane makes an entrance with the first Apex Legends Battle Pass

Apex Legends' first season kicks off March 19 on PS4, Xbox One, and PC. The Battle Pass comes in two versions, with the base version costing around 10 bucks. Seasonal rewards include a bevy of new loot such as legendary skins.

The Unevn One is a portable desk that brings PC gaming on the road

Bringing a gaming PC outside your usual setup can be a challenge, but the Unevn One is the first all-in-one, portable gaming desk complete with a computer chassis and integrated monitor mount.

How to get the most out of agent builds and specializations in The Division 2

The Division 2 has an intricate loot system to let you fine tune your agent to fit your play style. In our builds and specializations guide, we'll walk you through all of the stats you should pay attention to when tinkering with gear.

Transport your Nintendo Switch in style with these nifty cases

The Nintendo Switch, which boasts both wired and handheld modes, needs a good case to ensure it doesn't get beat up while you're on the go. We scoured through dozens of Switch cases to bring you the best ones.

Here's how you can control your PS4 right from your phone

Sony built the PlayStation 4 with smartphone and mobile integration in mind. Take a look at our guide for connecting your smartphone or tablet to a PS4, so you can get the most out of the system while on the go.

Here's our guide on how to progress through The Division 2 endgame

Your mission as an agent doesn't end after taking out the three main factions in The Division 2. The endgame brings the Black Tusks, a dangerous new faction, to D.C. Our endgame guide will help you on your quest for the best loot.

Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs brings 3D demolition into your living room

Angry Birds is releasing its next entry in the spring of 2019 - with a new spin. Bringing 3D environments and destruction, Angry Birds AR: Isle of Pigs uses augmented reality to add a new dimension to a classic series.