Playing LittleBigPlanet may be fun, but it’s arguably more fun to make levels for other people to play. In a recent PS Vita event we went to, our look at the handheld LBP title focused entirely on the level creation, and for good reason: touch controls may make this the best LBP level builder yet, and it may even be superior by a long shot. We’ve done similar level creation ourselves with another Vita title we’re excited about, Sound Shapes, and since LBP seems to work similarly, we’re fairly confident players are going to crank out amazing levels at a rate unseen in previous LBP games.
See, it’s one thing to move a cursor around with an analogue stick and decide where to place blocks. It’s entirely another when you can have a block type selected and simply tap on the screen where you want the block placed. Even the most efficient level builder on the PS3 couldn’t possibly keep up with even a novice builder on the Vita when it’s possible to create ten blocks in under three seconds and have them all placed exactly where you want. So what if an object needs adjusting? Thanks to multitouch, a mere pinch allows for rotation and size adjustments. Drag blocks around rapidly and you can build complex structures that would take way longer on PS3. If your finger is in the way of what you want to see, you can use the back touch panel, which brings up a handy cursor so you can see where you’re touching. You can also navigate your level-in-progress with swipes on the screen, allowing for rapid overviews of your work.
While sculpting objects into custom shapes might seem easy enough with an analogue stick, drawing with your finger is faster and more precise. We watched one puzzle in a level where a dotted line required the player to trace it with a finger, boring a tunnel into the material in the background, creating a path for a ball to follow. Then, to get the ball to go through the tunnel, tilting the Vita changes the direction of gravity. So not only is the level creating faster, it allows for neat little obstacles (and surely elaborate created gadgets) not possible on previous versions.
You can, of course, also use the Vita’s camera to take pictures and then use them as stickers, so you can make a level look like anything you want with little effort. We have to say, we didn’t expect touch controls to make that much of a difference in creating levels, but after seeing this (and playing Sound Shapes), we’re sold. This is the way to build levels. Once you start touching, sliding, and pinching your way to your own little world, it’s going to be hard to go back to building in LBP 2.