Late last week, Game Informer leaked the news that LittleBigPlanet is definitely a thing that exists. Today, Sony unleashed the first trailer for the game, revealing that it’ll dwarf what the first game offered in terms of player control. The biggest additions? The ability to create artificially intelligent enemies and pilotable creatures using robotic templates called “Sackbots,” and the ability to create entirely different types of games, including racers and top-down shooters.
That’s all very exciting, but amid the storm of new features, there are a few small shortcomings from the first game that we’d like to see addressed. As impressive as the sequel already sounds, we’ll be even more impressed if it includes the following:
As fun as LittleBigPlanet was, jumping around as Sackboy always felt kind of weird and floaty. Anyone expecting the exacting consistency of a Mario-style platformer instead got a more “realistic” jumping mechanic that never felt quite right. Given that most players probably spend more time jumping in LBP than anything else, that’s inexcusable.
Above: GET THIS RIGHT, DAMMIT
In the first previews, we’ve seen developer Media Molecule float one possible solution: if you don’t like the jumping, create a remote-controlled Sackbot stand-in, tweak its abilities until you get its jumping just right, and then have players control that instead of a Sackperson from your level’s outset.
Thanks, but no. We realize something on the level of LittleBigPlanet 2 is a monumental undertaking, but a developer who says “fix it yourself” when confronted with a basic gameplay problem deserves a little flak. All the stuff LBP2’s going to introduce sounds amazing, but if it’s going to stick with this platforming thing, it’d be great to see it really nail the jumps.
LBP comes with exactly one way to dispatch threats: look for the glowing, unprotected “brain” and jump on it, at which point whatever robotic creature was menacing you will instantly dissolve. 2008’s Metal Gear pack introduced a paint gun, enabling players to splatter threats from a distance. And while LBP2’s grappling hook and apparent vehicle-based weaponry already look like a big improvement, we’re hoping to see it do even more.
Above: A good start
Much as we respect the attempt to keep LBP wholesome and (relatively) free of violence, the fact is that Mario’s been doing the family friendly thing for decades with a far more interesting arsenal than Sackboy’s. Fireballs, pointy sticks or more destructive guns would be welcome additions. For that matter, so would non-weaponized power-ups. Items that allow for better jumping, speed, invincibility or flight could potentially add a lot to user-created levels, and they’d give creators a cool bonus to throw into their levels besides score bubbles and stickers.
Of course, with all the customization options LBP2 is going to introduce, it’s entirely possible players could create and customize their own power-ups, which has the potential to be awesome (even if it’s just in the form of a remote-control Sackbot).
Whoa, whoa, settle down. We’ve seen the trailer. We know LBP2’s level-creation tools are going to make the first game’s look fantastically puny. But we’re not talking about versatility, here.
Above: Don't get us wrong, the microchips are very impressive
Creating levels in the first LBP was something that had seemingly limitless possibilities… until you actually ran up against its limits and got frustrated. Each custom level was constrained by an 8-megabyte size cap, something we discovered after applying too many PlayStation Eye-captured texture stickers in our recreations of 8-bit levels. We get it: it’s important to keep the levels at a manageable size, so that they don’t fill up the servers and become unwieldy for players to download. But this is the PS3 era, and serious creators are going to need more room than what’s afforded by a PS2 memory card.
Above: Few things are worse than getting this far, and then being told you're running out of memory
On that note, if LBP really wants to be the YouTube of level-creation, it needs to relax its proverbial sphincter and let players directly import their own music and images from a PC, without this silly PlayStation Eye-scanning crap. Worried about obscenity? Someone will report it. Worried about copyright violation? Shut it down when someone complains, like you do already. If LBP2 is going to be taken seriously as a creation tool, it needs to give users the ability to implement their own creative vision – not just try to approximate it on Sony’s terms.
Whatever happens, though, we're still pretty damned excited to see more of this.
May 10, 2010
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