Yet the mucking around is fun in itself, in the sort of way that things like plastiscene or Lego were when we were kids. Plus, even if most of us are hopeless, you only need a scattering of dedicated, talented individuals to provide us with levels that can surprise us, delight us or take the game and its objects to places even Media Molecule probably can’t foresee. Little Big Planet has already been used to make Pac-Man levels, Mario, Final Fantasy and Metal Gear Solid tributes and even proposals of marriage.
I’m not sure you can quite say that the only limit is our collected imaginations – there’s only so far you can take the game’s characters, scenery and platform game furniture – but this is a big step beyond anything we’ve seen before.
For this reason, I’m going only to gently chide LittleBigPlanet for its most fundamental failings: the controls and the checkpointing system. To be honest, the controls aren’t quite as flawless as they could be. After a while you get used to the way sackboy handles and the slightly odd, pressure sensitive jumping, but it’s never as polished or intuitive as Nintendo’s classic Mario setup, and there are always going to be times when you die because your sackboy fails to respond quickly or predictably enough to your commands.
At times this puts the game on the verge of frustration, because the game uses an odd checkpoint system where passing a special circular portal saves your progress in the level, but you can only return through the portal so many times before you die permanently and have to begin again from the start. In theory, this all sounds quite sensible, but in practice – and when there’s a mountainous difficulty spike placed splat at the end of the level – it’s as close as this amazing game can get to being a nightmare.
I’ve spent hours considering whether this – or the server issues US users have been encountering – are enough for me to dock a point from what is clearly and easily one of my two favourite games of this year, or the last five for that matter. If those of you who like to believe that a 10 equals a perfect game want to do so, I’m fine with that. As far as I’m concerned, however, this is an instant classic. It’s a game we should celebrate now for what it is, and later for what it’s slowly turning into. I can’t say it clearer than this: if I didn’t have a PlayStation 3 right now, I would buy one tomorrow just to carry on exploring this LittleBigPlanet. Games don’t get any better than that.
Utterly wonderful and totally unmissable, LittleBigPlanet is a true landmark game. Not all of us will have the skills or talent to create our own gaming masterpieces, but who cares when we’re having this much fun?