10 LittleBigPlanet levels you have to play

Four online players? Levels that you warp to from an orbital hub station? It was only a matter of time before someone saw the obvious similarities between LittleBigPlanet and Phantasy Star Online, and created a level accordingly. Gevurah22’s homage to PSO nicely captures the look of Sega’s proto-MMO, right down to the bright colors and terrified, parakeet-looking Rag Rappies that flee at the sight of you.

But what sets the level apart is a relatively complicated switch puzzle, some towering (but not invincible) recreations of PSO’s Booma and Hildebear monsters and a gigantic frigging dragon that vomits storms of flaming boulders and can only be defeated by running underneath it, grabbing hold of its waggling tail and climbing onto its back. Did we mention this level is kind of tough? You’ve been warned.

By Danielsan88

While this Shadow of the Colossus-themed level – another favorite from LBP’s beta period – doesn’t directly replicate any specific Colossus or area from that game, it nonetheless does an excellent job of capturing the look and mood of the PS2 classic. The bleak, washed-out lighting is perfect, the environment features the right mix of weathered-looking stone and lush vegetation and the Colossus itself is pretty, largely unthreatening and will leave you wondering if you did the right thing after you killed it. A little.

OK, that’s a blatant exaggeration; the Colossus here doesn’t have anywhere near the personality of its PS2 cousins. Still, if you want to play through a 2D recreation of one of the PS2’s greatest games, and you want to play through it on a rocket-powered horse (during certain segments), you owe it to yourself to check this out at least once.

By Kirathian

While there are a ton of musical levels in LittleBigPlanet – by which we mean levels that only exist to play a piece of music, by pushing players to trigger a series of pre-set sound effects in sequence – Kirathian’s adaptation of this Final Fantasy X theme is the most beautiful one we’ve found so far. It’s also the most widely copied, as its creator gave permission for anyone to use the piece for any reason, in any level.

Since the release of To Zanarkand 1.0, plenty of other imitators and “improvements” have cropped up, some of which – like To Zanarkand in Colour – are actually quite pretty and require almost zero effort on the part of players.

Finding To Zanarkand led us in the direction of a few other videogame themes that made the leap to LBP – while we don’t count the next two as part of our overall list, you might want to take a look regardless:

Metal Gear Solid Theme Song
By markfoley94

Musically, markfoley94’s rendition of the Metal Gear Solid 2 theme isn’t anything too impressive. It’s off-rhythm, short and sounds like a beginning piano student hesitantly hunting for the notes and banging them out one at a time. But what impresses us about this is the way in which those notes are hit. While most musical levels simply use proximity switches to trigger sound effects, MGS Theme goes an extra step, triggering a bunch of emitters that drop balls onto a sequence of pressure switches. The fact that it all works with that extra layer of complexity is impressive enough that we’re willing to overlook any of its other shortcomings.

Little Big Music - Air Man Stage [JPN]
By bibineko

This isn’t quite as pretty as To Zanarkand, but it’s faster and catchier, and its mechanized trigger-gondola means that listening to Mega Man 2’s Air Man theme will take even less effort than simply downloading the song or booting up the original game. Also, there’s a giant, pixel-art sculpture of Air Man at the end of the stage, and that alone makes this level worth the minute or two it takes to “play” through it.

By abstractsimian

How do you re-create the fully explorable, mostly vertical maze from one of the most iconic games of all time in a platform-hopping side-scroller? You give players a jetpack and turn all of the deadly ghosts into simple automatons with a limited range of movement, that’s how. It’s far from a perfect clone, but abstractsimian’s take on Pac-Man is an excellent example of doing a lot with limited resources.

GP Pacman Maze is definitely missing something – namely the ability to eat a big power pellet and chomp some ghosts – but speeding through and collecting every last score bubble (a requirement for finishing the stage) is weirdly satisfying. And because you can’t kill the ghosts – which are now confined to patrolling single platforms, instead of just roaming the maze – the strategy and timing needed for victory are completely different from what you might have already played thousands of times before.

What the hell, it’s a pretty clever amateur remake of Pac-Man. Go play it already.

By RRR30000

Japanese PSN user RRR30000 has created some really impressive levels, including TETRIN.jp, a ridiculously slick variation on Tetris. But none of them have amazed us quite like Libidius.jp, a near-perfect recreation of the first level of 8-bit space shooter Gradius. AsLBP level builders ourselves, we’re insanely curious to know just how RRR30000 created this marvel, which hides your Sackboy completely behind a starry background layer while still keeping him connected to a flat, floating Vic Viper.

The movement, powered by a behind-the-scenes jetpack, is a little sluggish, but otherwise the controls work flawlessly, with an R1 tap instantly triggering the Viper’s main cannons. It’s tough, too – one hit will kill you, and you’ve only got one life to make it through the armada of twirling enemy ships, stationary cannons and floating bosses. Amazing from start to finish, Libidius is an absolute must-play if you’re looking for something completely unlike anything else on LBP… until someone else figures out how to make it, that is.

Nov 4, 2008

Mikel Reparaz
After graduating from college in 2000 with a BA in journalism, I worked for five years as a copy editor, page designer and videogame-review columnist at a couple of mid-sized newspapers you've never heard of. My column eventually got me a freelancing gig with GMR magazine, which folded a few months later. I was hired on full-time by GamesRadar in late 2005, and have since been paid actual money to write silly articles about lovable blobs.