“LittleBigPlanet 3” is a frustrating game.
On the one hand, new developer Sumo Digital, taking over from Media Molecule, has embraced the series tagline of “play, create, share” and made a game practically bursting at the seams with charm and creativity. Building on the previous games’ winning formula, the new installment allows for even more customization, even more player involvement and even more ways to have fun. In fact, while some of the novelty may have worn off a bit, this could be the best LittleBigPlanet game yet.
Or at least, that would be the case if it weren’t riddled with technical issues — including game-breaking bugs — that make it, for the time being anyway, impossible to completely enjoy.
For those new to the series, the LittleBigPlanet games are not your average platformers. While they do feature plenty of run-and-jump action, that’s only scratching the surface of everything they put at players’ fingertips in the fantastical arts-and-crafts world of the “Imagisphere.”
Playing as Sackboy — basically a walking blank slate — gamers solve environment-based puzzles and collect all sort of doodads and trinkets, including costumes and stickers with which to decorate Sackboy and turn him into, well, pretty much anything.
Among the changes in “LittleBigPlanet 3” are three new playable characters, Oddsock, Toggle and Swoop, each of which has unique attributes. This goes a long way in adding variety to the gameplay.
This installment also features a substantially improved Create Mode where players can design and publish their own levels, including 16 layers of depth (versus the previous game’s three) and a bulked-up toolkit. Create Mode is one of the most intriguing features of "LittleBigPlanet 3" as it actively encourages gamers to participate in the game-building process and sharing them with friends and enemies.
In case inspiration is lacking, the game comes with built-in access to 9 million user-generated stages from previous LittleBigPlanet games.
Obviously, there’s a ton to do — maybe too much, in fact. The amount of options available is kind of overwhelming. Although Sumo Digital does a pretty good job of walking players through all of the different aspects of the game, it’ll take awhile to really become comfortable with everything. Expect to work through some long, fairly technical tutorials before really being able to make use of all the game has to offer.
The user interface, likewise, is not the easiest thing to maneuver. This might pose a problem for younger players.
Overall, though, “LittleBigPlanet 3” would still be a lot of fun and an easy recommendation for families if it weren’t for the technical issues.
These range from the minor — overly long load screens, dropped frames, chugging, etc. — to the major — the game inexplicably crashing at the same spot every time (something which happened on multiple occasions during the review playthrough). In the latter example, the only solution may be to delete the entire game and start from scratch. As frustrating as that is for an adult, try explaining to a child why all of their hard-earned stickers, trophies and badges have to be deleted.
Unfortunately, “LittleBigPlanet 3” isn’t a finished game; it’s a work in progress.
“LittleBigPlanet 3” is available on PS3 and PS4. The PS4 build offers a few extra features like being able to use the controller’s touchpad during Create Mode and being able to edit together trailers for player-generated levels. It also runs in full high-definition 1080p (compared with the PS3 version at 720p). Otherwise, the two versions are completely compatible with each other.
Game: "LittleBigPlanet 3"
Platform: PS3, PS4
ESRB rating: E for comic mischief, mild cartoon violence and a tobacco reference
Jeff Peterson is a native of Utah Valley and studied humanities and history at Brigham Young University. Along with the Deseret News, he also contributes to the film discussion website FilmInquiry.com.