Back when I previewed LittleBigPlanet PS Vita, I was struck by just how close it was to LittleBigPlanet 2 for PS3.
The resemblance is still striking, and it's undeniably impressive to see a game of this calibre running on a system you can chuck in your bag.
However, while this remarkable parity is LittleBigPlanet PS Vita's strongest selling point, it's also the source of its biggest issue.
This Vita version is trying so much to be like the latest home console outing that it forgets to truly innovate beyond a few clumsy attempts at integrating the touchscreens and Sixaxis into play.
Of course LittleBigPlanet 2 is a very good game in its own right, and Tarsier Studios has done well to reproduce that experience on a portable. Where you could clearly see the cut corners in LittleBigPlanet for PSP, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is the real deal. Consequently, the gameplay transfers wonderfully.
After listening to Stephen Fry chat about the power of creativity, you're given a Sackperson to customise. This task achieved, you go gadding about the single-player mode.
Fry sticks closely by your side for the first hour or so before quietly retreating to let you make your own progress, offering advice when something new crops up.
The customisation options just for your Sackperson - let alone your hub-like Pod - are staggering. Unlocking outfits, stickers, decorations, and more by collecting item bubbles throughout each level gives you the impetus to explore and take risks in pursuit of lovely new hats and the like.
Many of these items also increase the number of parts to work with as you build your own levels. It's simpler than ever to create something cool quickly, or something achingly intricate over the course of an evening.
Touch too much
The process through which you gain access to all of this content - the platforming - is enjoyable enough, but it falls short of previous games in the series.
One problem is that there's very little challenge, with a minuscule number of enemies to face and fewer points where you'll feel any sort of genuine threat for your Sackperson's safety. Rather than the cheeky cool of previous entries, this one's a bit touchy-feely.
Speaking of which, you're asked to tap, swipe, or rub either the touchscreen or the rear touchpad throughout your adventure, and the experience is less than perfect: when you try and move your character around while pressing on the touchscreen to shift an object about, the game often forgets your input, meaning that you drop whatever you're carrying.
Even if you do manage to master the controls in single-player, you'll really struggle when online - the multiplayer is generally atrocious, with very noticeable lag. While getting access to (and publishing your own) community-made levels is fast, having four players in a party invariably cripples your game session.
Despite all this, LittleBigPlanet PS Vita is still worth every penny. There's plenty of content included, the community is already creating its own levels, and the added bonus of transferring items you purchased in previous games is the stitched icing on the cloth cake.
But there's no escaping the sense that this is LittleBigPlanet 2.1, albeit with a LittleBigPlanet 3 price tag. While it's fun to play, it does nothing new beyond the single-player levels and touch mechanics.
Buy it, play it, enjoy it - but don't expect to be blown away by innovation.
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