There’s also good news for those of you who like a spot of decorating. In LittleBigPlanet you can collect stickers and decorations, using these to permanently spruce up or graffiti the pod that your sackboy calls home, or the existing levels. In some cases, the stickers even work as switches, opening up new sections or releasing bonus items onto the scene. All this stuff is ingeniously worked into the main story mode. You know the sort of coins or power-ups you collect in regular platform games? Well, there’s still a sort of in-game, high-score currency but here the levels are also festooned with bubbles containing stickers, decorations, objects and new costume items to pick up.
This is brilliant. In most games I struggle to work up any enthusiasm for bonus collectibles. In LittleBigPlanet I actually worry that the second level of the Mexican stage contains a costume bubble I’ve missed out on. You want to return to levels until you’ve found everything, and the fact that stickers found in later levels can be used to unlock new objects in earlier levels makes that a sensible approach. That, and the fact that most LBP levels are so much fun that you never mind another journey through them.
Yet even this customisation is only the beginning. The most revolutionary aspect of LittleBigPlanet is that, having created all these odd characters, platforms and mechanisms to delight you, Media Molecule wants you to have a go with them too. We’re not talking about the sort of map editor that PC FPS fans will be used to, but about a real-time editing mode where others can play as you’re creating – the closest thing we’ve seen before is probably Garry’s Mod in Half-Life 2 or The Forge in Halo 3.
Using the same ‘popit’ interface you use to decorate your sackboy or the levels in the game, you can place your own scenery, objects and enemies by selecting items from a goodie bag and just placing them on the screen. You can rotate and rescale them with the right stick, and flip them with a press of a button. The only thing you need to worry about is gravity. While you’re placing objects it’s switched off, but put your popit away and the whole stack falls to earth and (hopefully) into place. Once that’s done, you can let your friends play around with them, polish your design, then upload the lot to Media Molecule’s servers. Of course, you’ll have to unlock all the goodies first, and the only way to do that is work your way through the existing levels. Playing feeds creating, and visa versa.
The more you get involved in this, the more it all makes sense. The existing ‘story’ levels, each supposedly designed by a specific ‘curator creator’ are all so much more than just sample levels, but they do provide you with inspiration as to what you might one day achieve. Not all of us will reach such dizzy heights; the interface is probably as simple as it can be, but juggling all the scenery items, objects and mechanisms on several different planes of depth (the game has you moving in and out of the screen) is tricky, and it will take a lot of trial and error before you come up with anything functional, let alone enjoyable.
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