Best of 7th Gen: #20-LittleBigPlanet

by Matthew Thompson (All images courtesy of the LittleBigPlanet page found here)

(I am counting down my 25 favorite games of the last console generation. I explain a little about how I put the list together in this introduction. And you can see a collection of all my articles on the Best of 7th Gen compiled here.)

LittleBigPlanet 2

When LittleBigPlanet came to the PS3, it was a breath of fresh air. A lot of developers were going in a more mature direction to chase an older market for the new system. But then Sony partnered with a little known developer named Media Molecule and they delivered something completely different.

LittleBigPlanet’s charm begins with its unique aesthetic. It was hard to not have a smile on your face as you ran around slapping your friends and sticking your tongue out with LBP’s knit hero Sackboy. Its world, made from felt and cardboard and various other craft-type items, helped give the game a look that was all its own back when it launched in 2008. Seeing the clever ways the developers created different items, looks and levels was fascinating. And that aspect fed directly into LBP’s best feature: it’s creation tools.

The game brought user-generated content to consoles in a big way giving players a huge toolset to create levels of their own. It was easy enough for anyone to try their hand at the development side of their beloved hobby, but it was watching the most talented creators that really showed off how great a feature this was. Some of that just came in the way of sharp level design. Other times it was in the way the tools were manipulated to give levels wild artstyles. I still remembering seeing the silhouette style people made so that your Sackperson appeared as a dark outline on a bright background. And then there was the way users practically broke the tools to create genres outside of the typical sidescroller that the game was designed as. I still marvel at what users were able to create in LittleBigPlanet. There is some really insane stuff out there and it is still coming all the time.

LittleBigPlanet 3

LBP was more than just a set of creation tools though. I feel it really kicked off a new craze of cooperative platformers with its 4-player mode. It had that great balance of working together and being able to mess with your friends that made even lesser moments fun. I also thought this was a solid platformer. A lot has been made of the physics and jumping controls. And those complaints are completely valid, but I feel the creative level designs and grab mechanic made up for those issues enough to create something I had a lot of fun with.

With LittleBigPlanet, Media Molecule created an innovative series with all the imagination and charm that has become a trademark of theirs as a developer. It also helped start a wave of new co-op platformers and games with user-generated content, so not only was LBP a lot of fun, but it had a big impact on the video game landscape as well.

LittleBigPlanet 1

A few more things:

  • I picked the original over the second game mostly because I put way more time into it. Other than the original being more innovative and having a better story mode, LBP2 is a better game. I loved the new competitive minigames, power-ups and creation tools just to name a few of the sequel’s many improvements. I could have went either way with this series, but ultimately went with the first because of a more personal connection. It might as well be a series entry though.
  • I did create a level. It wasn’t that great, but I was proud of it. A very challenging platforming level with a treasure hunter vibe that used the grip mechanic in a variety of ways. The issues I had putting it together made me appreciate people’s much more challenging creations that much more.
  • This was one of the very first games I played online. I still remember playing my level with three friends and realizing it was in no way designed for multiplayer. It did make for a hilarious time though and it was always a good time to play with friends online or off.
  • I never shell out for costumes in games, but this game got me. I particularly loved any themed after video game characters. LBP2’s Jak costume was amazing. I think I ended up using the Nariko one the most. The way her long red hair flew around as she jumped was so cool. Customizing Sackboy (or girl) was another reason this game was such a joy.
  • These games had a great soundtrack. And I discovered Passion Pit from a trailer for the second game who I still love and have since seen in concert!
  • Sorry for the big gap in entries for this feature! I got caught up in E3 in June and then took some time off from the blog in July. I hope to start really digging further into my Top 25 soon though.
  • Clue for #19: It is the highest ranked first-person shooter on this list. There are other shooters to come and other first-person games, but no true FPS games after this next one. Which probably says something about where my tastes lie that such a popular genre won’t technically crack the top 18.
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