The quote above comes from Siobhan Reddy, the executive producer of LittleBigPlanet. It's an interesting analogy for the progression of this much loved series, one that found traces of weeds in its earliest instalment, which eventually blossomed into the glorious flower that was LittleBigPlanet 2.
Now, along comes LittleBigPlanet 3. No longer developed by Media Molecule, Sumo Digital has taken the responsibility of ensuring that Sackboy's legacy lives on and carries over into the PS4 generation. While not the most perfect addition to the series, with a few hiccups along the way, LittleBigPlanet 3 demonstrates how inventive platforming, childish yet delightful humour, creation tools galore and a few of the best British comedy actors around can make for some serious hours of enjoyment!
Story in LittleBigPlanet 3
Akin to all of the games that have come before it, the third instalment has brought something new to the table with a delightfully adorable plot line. While not the most engaging of narratives in the world, it's enough to keep you interested and giggling along with the wacky characters for the short time that the story sticks around. The biggest alteration in the series' format though comes with the inclusion of Sackboy's new friends.
As the delightful Stephen Fry says "There's room for more than one 'u' in the word 'fun'!" Introducing Oddsock, Swoop and Toggle. These three characters offer great variations to the kind of navigation we're so familiar with when it comes to LBP. However, it's unfortunate that the amount of levels that involved these loveable little guys was seriously limited.
Oddsock, brings a new form of navigation to the world, being much faster than Sackboy he can also wall-jump to his heart's content. Swoop, a little wild flapping bird, brings the joy of flight to LBP and it's truly a delight to navigate these levels with wings. We can also pick up small items in our environment when controlling him, including some characters. Then finally we have Toggle, a delightful chap who can alter his size from big to small, using his heaviest version to way down buttons or platforms to help others navigate or open doors.
These three bring some great new dynamics into the series, and their animation style is just as lovingly presented as Sackboy's (or girls). It's great to see Toggle attempting to move his weight around or the feathers that fly off of Swoop as he soars through the air.
Sackboy is on a mission to find these three great legends to stop the conniving Newton from destroying the creative paradise. At the outset, this character introduces us to this new world Bunkum, and asks for help in the release of three titans. After doing so, we realise that we have inadvertently helped the villain and the whole things kicks off.
As an Irish man, my familiarity with the lifelong work of the two great friends Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (prior to his success with House that is), is simply an added bonus that makes LittleBigPlanet 3 all the more enjoyable. Fry returns with another delightful performance and Laurie lends some real charm to the evil Newton - though they're not the only ones showing off their voice acting talents. All of the supporting cast in LBP3 have their own voices now too, and it's generally stellar work all round.
Gameplay & Design
During my approximate 7 hours with the campaign, I was dazzled by the joyous display of creativity and innovative platforming on display. Sumo have done beautiful work with regards to maintaining the series' charm and variety, with some of the levels having people in the office smiling with glee. Though with these great features, comes LBP3's shortcomings that unfortunately pull it down in certain areas.
Even though the developer may have changed, the series is still held back in places with less then reliable controls, as very precise movements are required at times that, if missed, could force the player to go pretty far back on some levels. Though, as with any game, the worst thing that can happen is to see your progress hampered by the presence of serious glitches and bugs.
Areas and designs would disappear before my eyes and my characters would occasionally get stuck in some of the environments, and there was one moment when my oddsock got stuck in a gaming void. But even then, seeing him wave and dance within this environment can make you laugh.
The storyline addition to LBP3 is more than welcome, and is a whole lot of fun with plenty of new gadgets to help you along the way. The link ball was a personal favourite of mine, allowing the player to teleport to the location that you move it to. And who doesn't want a pair of boost boots to boot?!
LittleBigPlanet is a joy to play with friends. Two brains are certainly better than one, but when four of you are jumping around these levels attempting to help one another, you can't help but love it. It's just so unfortunate that LBP3 didn't use their new characters to their advantage in this area, as almost all of the levels that can be played together force players to play as the same characters, rather than mixing it up with a few different styles.
With myself only discovering one level where players can take the role of one of the four characters, it's rather astounding that Sumo didn't go out of their way to create more of these kind of areas. The need for everyone to work together with their own special abilities made everything so challenging and enjoyable, and the level of teamwork that was required made it feel like this was what LBP3 should be all about. Sadly, this is an aspect that the developers really have let slip through their fingers, it was a dynamic that could have made LBP3 such a great success.
When it comes to level creation, I myself have never been one who devoted any time or attention to working out the physics in creating my own little game. However, when it comes to LBP, one can't help but be inspired by the remarkable imagination of all of the other gamers out there. Sony, have gloriously allowed us to play all of the levels that have been created in LBP1 and LBP2, but now with a little bit of texture polish and an improved graphics engine on the PS4, they've never looked better.
When it comes to creating your own world in LittleBigPlanet 3, the options are seemingly endless. With the layers of available depth having gone from 3 to 16 in the new title, some of the creations are wondrous to behold. While the main campaign is a lot of fun, playing other gamer's levels is what makes this series so special. I've found some levels, like Mortal Kombat and Tsunami Survival, to be modes that I would return to over and over again. The replay value on these games is endless and the community around LBP is thriving at the moment.
When it came to creating my own levels, the tools were seriously overwhelming at the outset, especially when you realise how much control you have over the design and the physics that are interacting with it. Eventually you become quite familiar with what works and what doesn't and begin to realise where everything is that you're looking for. It's comprehensive and can be very satisfying once you see your finished project and send it out into the imagisphere!
But my abilities in this area where rather limited, therefore I found far more enjoyment in testing out the levels of more creative and determined players.
Ultimately, Bunkum is a great place to visit. Its changes to LBP'S formulas are enticing for those jaded with its conventions and for those who haven't played one of these games before, you'll find more in this world then you'll know what to do with. While its bugs and glitches held it back from becoming as clean and slick as the other titles, and its lack of diversity when it came to co-op play was really disappointing, I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this exciting little platformer.
There's a reason that LittleBigPlanet and Sackboy have a reputation throughout the industry. This series is wildly inventive and its creativity has been gifted to those that love to create in LBP 3. Though not everything is perfect, LittleBigPlanet 3 has most certainly blossomed into a flower of beautiful creativity.