I’m going to start this off by saying that I’m not normally the kind of person to collapse head over heels in adoration of anything overtly cute. Innocent Smoothies don’t draw me into their range of vegetable pots by wrapping them in little woolen jackets, Where The Wild Things Are is great because it’s directed by Spike Jonze and not because the mysteriously asexual “wild things” look like absolute darlings. Etc. Despite all of that and my staunch refusal to believe that any game actually let’s you “create” something original (I grew up infuriated with Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and it’s lame park editor), I gotta admit that LittleBigPlanet stole my heart.
No matter how much people blow their rocks to Halo and all it’s spin-off packages, I just can’t get on board with something so cold and lifeless. Some games do alien worlds well, just take a look at the Half Life series; even the first one painted a more believable and interesting picture than the most recent Halo game. It takes spark and flair, a silent appreciation for the underlying intelligence and whims of the player, to make a game truely shine. This, Halo doesn’t have. But it’s not just Halo; year upon year games trot out onto the market expecting to walk off the shelves with their hollow promises of innovative gameplay but instead fall by the wayside in a twisted mess of vaguely executed ideas. When you treat consumers like idiots, you eventually end up creating games that only idiots like. However, with a healthy dose of fresh ideas and a bucket full of charm Media Molecule managed to create one of the most endearing games of this, if not any, console generation.
Put simply LittleBigPlanet is a platform game; point A to point C while acrobatically avoiding all the horrors at point B. It sets itself apart in two ways though; firstly with it’s heavy reliance on physics to structure and indeed create the perils along your journey, and secondly in it’s creation tools which basically let you create whatever the fuck you want using all the textures, objects, and weird little stickers you find while playing through the main story. But it’s the limitless charm exhibited in the levels of the story mode that really draws you in; from the nodding giraffes in the Africa levels that form bridges for you to cross, to the gently hiccuping bridegroom who’s run away on the eve of his wedding. It’s all constructed so lovingly and so delicately that you can’t help but smile to yourself as Sackboy (he’s the protagonist you play, he’s made out of cloth) hops along to your commands. It’s escapist gaming in it’s most joyful form, clearly created by people who believe in the power of their own imaginations with a driving desire to see every wild dream come to felt-covered animated life. Sucks if you’ve got an Xbox though…
LittleBigPlanet is out now for PS3 & PSP from £17.99 via Amazon.co.uk.