Last November I, like many PS3 owners, finally got my hands on LBP. It surfed in on a wave of hype and outstanding critical acclaim. Create and publish your own levels, experience content produced by gamers the world over. To begin with it was just as shiny, inventive and accessible as I’d been led to believe. Then as the days went on and the mechanics began to grate a little, I joined the throngs of complainers lamenting the floaty platforming, unexpectedly steep difficulty curve and twitchy online interface. Half the user-created levels were just trophy runs and prize giveaways, the other half were taken off the servers for copyright infringement. Due to an insanely busy Christmas gaming schedule I put it down for a few months.
I went back last weekend to re-assess. While many of the above problems are still present I finally realized what was wrong with my perception. I was judging this as a platformer. A total redux of what we thought that genre was, true, but a platformer like Mario and Sonic nonetheless.
Littlebigplanet is a grand art project begun by Media Molecule in November 2008 and added to by thousands of artists both talented and talentless. It’s an exploration of what gamers can do creatively with a console; a machine usually unsuited to this task. And it simply takes the form of a platform game.
It’s still annoying, floaty and full of shabby, prize-littered levels whose inept designers are begging for approval, but crucially the reviewers who gave it tens on pure speculation that there would be excellent content were absolutely right. A little digging and patience turns up levels of extraordinary complexity, beauty and fun. Everyone can find something to love about this game. You may be muttering “Welcome to last year’s opinions,” but, you see, I had to let the hype die down, the deeper content be published and the new purchase price drop to such a tragic low that this became the brilliant underdog it was always meant to be. LBP, I misjudged you and I apologize.