Monday, November 17, 2008

Little Big Planet (PS3)

- I've only spent about 4-5 hrs with the game so far.
- I don't think I've seen a console game this hyped in a long time. In a lot of way it reminds me of Spore. Not the game itself but how it was perceived and received. There is this huge hype machine surrounding it, how the user created content was going to change the world, make the platform really take off, etc. Then, when it came out it was a good solid game but not nearly as ground breaking as we expected.
- At it's core it's a very capable pretty physics based mostly 2D platformer with some nice 3d graphics. It does have a certain quirky charm about it thanks to the narrator.
- It's very family friendly as far as not having anything offensive in the game. The game play itself is a different story.
- The difficulty ramps up and rather quickly. It didn't take long before my 6yr old was having problems keeping up. It wasn't soon after before I found I was having problems finishing a level. It uses the old lives system. What's worse are the lives pool is shared among all the players. So if you are playing with players with a large range of skills, it's possible that the less skilled players could drain all the lives rather quickly. When you run out of lives you have to start the whole level over again. So even though there are ample number of continue points, the whole lives thing kind of ruins things.
- I also found the camera kind of troublesome. I tries to focus on the player ahead. If another player lags too far behind, they will warp to the lead player when they cross the next check point. The problem is sometimes the camera would focus on the lagging player instead of the leader. I think I would have preferred a zoom in/out and dynamically split the screen when needed. I guess it would get pretty busy if the screen had to split 4 ways and then merge again when the players came together.
- I didn't mess with the content creating side of things yet. I really don't have the time right now but it does seem interesting.
- Browsing user levels seemed a bit cumbersome with levels arranged on planets that you zoom in and out of. I played a few that would earn you 7 trophies in 30 seconds or whatever. I did find a few original "real" levels that were quite fun.
- I'm a bit burnt out on traditional 2d platformers. OK, I was never really that much into them in the first place.
- My kids still really like this game. So it might be ok if you don't mind sticking to easier user generated content or the first few easier levels included in the game.

This game kind of reminds me of the first Viva Pinata. It was a cutesy game tied to a kids cartoon with pretty deep game play. Here you have what a appears to be a very family friendly cutesy platformer but with a punishing difficulty curve and lives system. Add to that a very deep and elaborate creation system that I'm sure the hard core will gobble up. Who are they targeting with this title? I can see myself having some co-op fun with it but I can't recommend it at full price as a family game (maybe <= $30). It will probably be worth full price if you are really interested in creating levels.

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