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LittleBigPlanet (Game)

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LittleBigPlanet
LittleBigPlanet North America cover High Res
LittleBigPlanet's North American cover.
Developer(s) Media Molecule
Publisher(s) Sony Computer Entertainment Europe
Distributor(s) SCEE, SCEA
Native resolution 720p
Version 1.18
Platform(s) PlayStation 3
Release date NA W/C October 23, 2008
PAL W/C November 3, 2008
UK November 5, 2008
Genre(s) Platformer, action
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer, online multiplayer
Rating(s) CERO: A
ESRB: E
PEGI: 7+
Media Blu-ray Disc
Input methods Gamepad

LittleBigPlanet (often abbreviated to LBP and developed under the working title The Next Big Thing) is an puzzle platformer and world creation video game for the PlayStation 3, first announced on March 7, 2007 by Phil Harrison at the 2007 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, California. It was developed by Media Molecule, a British company founded in part by Rag Doll Kung Fu creator Mark Healey, it's published by Sony Computer Entertainment Europe and is now avalible all over the world and now has a spin-off for the PSP also named LittleBigPlanet.

Gameplay

In LBP, players control small characters (nicknamed either "Sackboy" or "Sackgirl", owing to their material and appearance), each of which can jump, move, and grab objects. Players can use their abilities to shape and develop the highly manipulatable environment to build custom spaces either individually, collaboratively, and/or competitively. Levels focus on co-operative, physics-based gameplay, and players can use mechanisms such as cogs and blocks to build anything from small level parts to large, complex worlds. The game will also allow opportunities for players to acquire new skills and tools.

A major focus of LBP will be on the global community features through the PlayStation Network for players to interact and share their "patches"–levels and other modifications–as well as online play.

Players can navigate their way through the world by jumping, pushing, grabbing, running to overcome numerous puzzles provided by the game's robust physics engine. Players will also face physics-based enemies ranging from the small such as burning logs, to big "bosses" built around one of six AI "brains" available in the player's toolset. In addition, harmful objects can be placed in the game, such as pits of fire and being "squished" or flattened by an object that cause the player to restart that section of the level; players pop and roll out of restart points nearby.

A scoring system is also in place, in the form of a time trial with a start and end gate and players collecting world items such as sponge. Scoring is based on both time and execution of the level.

Dangers

All objects and surfaces can have "dangers" applied to them. Any object can be set on fire, electrified, or turned to gas and the character will react differently when it comes into contact with each of them. Fire will singe the character if it is touched briefly but he will die if in contact with it for a longer period. Electrified items will electrocute the player and kill immediately. While gas is also lethal, and is generally the hazard found at the bottom of bottomless pits. Explosives are also to feature in the game. The player can also be crushed if trapped under or between heavy items.

Objects

LBG screenshot

A screenshot from LittleBigPlanet.

Objects are made of many different, selectable materials, such as felt, wood, metal or sponge. The materials act realistically; wood does not change shape when you stand on it or grab it, while felt "squishes" and deforms. Objects are selectable from a pull-out menu, nicknamed "Pop-It", accessible at any point during play.

Usable items are not limited to physical objects; from the "Pop-It" menu "stickers" are also selectable. These "stickers" are pasted to any object or wall throughout the world, limited only by the player/level creator's imagination. The stickers can be created from photos taken from the PlayStation Eye.

A resource system is also in the game, where sponge and other items are collected by the player in order to fuel their ability to build new objects.

Player control

Players can jump, move, and grab objects by using the controller. The analogue sticks are used for movement and camera control during the game, but may also be used to move a characters' arms by pressing a certain button to swap between functionality. The head or body can be moved by using the Sixaxis tilt control. Pressing the left stick will change between moving the head and moving the body.

Character movement is based on how hard the controller is used, much like pressure sensitivity; for instance, when the L2 or R2 triggers are held (for the left and right arms respectively), jerking the analogue stick will cause the player to slap another player inside the game.

Grabbing is also a key ability (L1 or R1 triggers); it allows a character to pull an object, or even another character, in whatever direction they are currently moving. This allows, for example, a chain of players to hang off a rope when only one character is actually grabbing the rope. Also, it allows a jetpack-equipped player to carry other players through the sky. this neat feature in the games is also used to solve puzzles and you can even create a sackboy ladder just for the heck of it. however this is somtimes required to solve certain puzzles.

Emotions are also a controllable aspect of the characters. Aside from the normal expression the player's avatar exhibits, the player also has a choice of four different emotions to show, each emotion triggered by pressing a directional button on the controller's D-pad. Starting from the upward directional button and going clockwise, the emotions are as follows: happy, angry, sad, and nervous. Each emotion has three different levels of intensity, the emotion growing more intense with each consecutive press. Kyle Schubel of SCEA also mentioned they want to expand the emote system even more.

User-created content

After the player has completed three of the levels which ship with the game they will be able to access Create mode, LBP's integrated content-creation system. Any level or individual object can be edited by the player. This includes those which ship with the game, are created by other users or are created by the player. When in Create mode, the player can fly around the level on a jetpack. Pressing the down button on the d-pad will deactivate the jetpack, allowing the user to test the level under normal game conditions. Create mode allows the player to dynamically place, edit, morph, rotate and interact with objects within the game world. The tactile design of the objects and materials available react as at the player would expect when under game physics. Objects can be made out of glass, metal, sponge, polystyrene, cardboard and rubber. More complex items can be built using these materials in conjunction with glue, bolts, string, rods, springs, elastic, winches and pistons. Players will also have access to a range of pre-made objects, such as vehicles, which are shipped with the game, or user-created objects which can be given as rewards by the creator for completing his or her level. The user can obtain new objects and materials by collecting the Prize Bubbles placed throughout the pre-made levels.

The player may place stickers onto the objects in their level. These stickers can be images included in the game or photos taken using the PlayStation Eye camera. From here, levels can be uploaded onto the game's servers where other players can download, play, and edit them. When levels are created, the player can choose to provide a reward for completing the level. Objects given as prizes can then be used in the player's own level, however they are not able to provide it as a reward. The developers hope that this will help expand the share aspect of the game by encouraging users to discuss others' levels with each other and in turn exponentially improve a level's popularity.

Character customization

The player may customize their character in a range of ways. They are able to select a base color and texture for their Sackboy from a range of materials and designs. They are also able to create items for the character to wear such as masks and clothes as well as give them pre-made items including swords and capes. The game will also feature items based on other PlayStation 3 franchises such as a Killzone 2 mask and character models based on Kratos from the God of War series, Nariko from Heavenly Sword, Old Snake from the Metal Gear Solid series, and Sephiroth from Final Fantasy VII. You can also get a Chimera character Resistance 2 to many of the Metal Gear Solid cast.

Multiplayer

LBP features a range of multiplayer options. Levels can be played online with up to four players, locally with up to four players or with a mixture of up to four online and local players. Up to four local users can play together in Create mode, the ability to create levels with up to four players online will be added in and update at some point after the game's launch. How multiple users play with each other is dependent on the design of the level and how the users choose to play allowing the players to choose whether they play cooperatively or battle against each other to get to the finish line first or collect the most bubbles. Each local player will also be able to sign in to their own PlayStation Network account and individually collect trophies for their own account. This is the first time such a feature has been included in a PS3 game.

Development

Marketing

Both Sony Computer Entertainment and Media Molecule have undertaken a robust marketing campaign in the run-up to the game's release. In North America, SCEA have partnered with several of the major online retailers including Amazon.com, GameStop, Circuit City, Best Buy, and Game Crazy to offer unique bonus gifts to customers pre-ordering the game from the selected retailers. These gifts include codes to access additional in-game characters, a sticker book, a burlap pouch for storing the game disk in and an official game guide published by Brady Games. The game's developers have also created retailer-specific trailers for Amazon.com and Wal-Mart. These videos feature in-game footage of levels featuring the retailer's logo built using the in-game toolset and have been embedded into LittleBigPlanet's product page on their respective websites.

In the UK, SCEE have partnered with Play.com to offer a downloadable Nariko character to customers who pre-order the game. Also, a temporary shop has been set-up in Manchester's town centre where people will be able to play the game before its release.

Release

A demo version of the game was planned for release on the PlayStation Network in the fourth quarter of 2007, but was delayed until 2008. Original announcements pointed to a full release early in 2008, but Sony later said that the game had been delayed until September 2008 in the UK. During the Sony PlayStation Day on May 6, 2008 in London, Sony announced that the game would be delayed by one month, and was finally scheduled for release on October 24, 2008 in North America, October 22, in Europe and Australasia, October 24 in the UK and Ireland and October 30 in Japan. In the UK Pegi rated it a 7+, and in USA ESRB rated it an E.

Recall

On 17 October 2008, SCEE started a World-wide recall of the game and announced that the game's release would be delayed further worldwide, and later that it would be delayed by around one week for North America and the UK & Ireland. SCEE stated that

"During the review process prior to the release of LittleBigPlanet, it has been brought to our attention that one of the background music tracks licensed from a record label for use in the game contains two expressions that can be found in the Qur’an. We have taken immediate action to rectify this and we sincerely apologize for any offense that this may have caused. We will begin shipping LittleBigPlanet to retail in North America the week of 27 October . Sorry for the delay, and rest assured, we are doing everything we can to get LittleBigPlanet to you as soon as possible."
— Sony Press release

On the same day, SCEA made a similar announcement along with confirmation that they will start sending stock to North American retailers in the week beginning 5th Novemeber. (this is a confirmed release date)

Reaction

Previews

The unveiling of LBP at the 2007 Game Developers Conference elicited numerous positive reactions. In his BBC News blog, technology editor Darren Waters wrote, "LittleBigPlanet is perhaps one of the most dazzling demos I've seen in the last 10 years." IGN described the game as "beautiful" and reports that "Even in the presence of Home, Sony's impressive new community software, LittleBigPlanet stole the show at Phil Harrison's Game 3.0 practice conference, and was the thing that everyone was talking about." 1UP writes that "There are plenty of questions remaining about LittleBigPlanet … but it's clear from the reaction to the game so far that it has already won over many fans" and that "this could be something very special." Slashdot Games editor Michael Zenke suggested that the game could be the PlayStation 3's killer application, saying, "if these elements are for real, this is the reason to buy PlayStation 3". Even Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America, praised the product, though he was unsure how the game would fare on the PS3.

Reception

The reception of LittleBigPlanet has been excellent.

The first major publication to review LBP was the UK edition of PlayStation Official Magazine. In their November edition they gave the game a perfect score of 10/10.

More recently, the game has been reviewed by other critics. IGN US gave the game a 9.5/10, while their UK and AU websites gave the game 9.7/10 and 9.2/10 respectively.

The game currently has a Metacritic aggregated score of 94/100 from 31 reviews.

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