Rumours about LittleBigPlanet for the PSP emerged before the PS3 game even hit stores, so excited was the PlayStation fanbase about the upcoming physics-based 2D platformer. It made perfect sense. Sony was looking to improve the flagging handheld's software line-up and the Media Molecule developed title has few peers when it comes to hardcore appeal. The rumour became reality in February this year, and got the Sony faithful very hot under the collar: If Sony's Cambridge Studio could successfully replicate the PS3 experience, we'd have a contender for handheld game of the year.
So, how close did it get? Well, pretty damn close, as it turns out. If you've played the PS3 exclusive this PSP version will look and feel strikingly similar. Once again you take control of Sackboy, a customisable avatar that resembles a kind of basic children's stuffed toy. In his unclothed form he's a bit of a blank canvas but, just as in the PS3 game, you're able to dress him up and bring out a personality of your own making - a rooster hat is my accessory of choice.
As before, Sackboy is pretty nimble on his feet, able to hop with a tap on the X button or leap to cover more distance by holding it down. In the PS3 original his movement was somewhat floaty - a quality that was either loved or loathed, depending on your temperament. To an extent the same can be said of this PSP game, but it certainly seems as if he's a little easier to control than before, even if the difference is minimal. The rest of his limited move set is included here too: He's able to grab hold of objects by holding down the R button, letting him swing on ropes, pull switches or manoeuvre objects into the correct position.
Much of what made the PS3 game so much fun to play stemmed from the way objects in the game world obeyed the rules of physics. There may have been some concern that this wouldn't be so in the PSP game, but everything behaves as you'd expect; if any downgrades to the physics engine have been made, it's hard to notice. All the 30 odd levels here (spread over seven locations) are brand new, created by Sony Cambridge for this portable version of the game, but it's remarkable just how close to the PS3 game it looks and feels.
LittleBigPlanet on PSP is a game that oozes originality and charm. From the hand-drawn characters and seemingly random level designs that never fail to raise a smile, to the dancing Sackboy animations and the way you can make him express his emotion, the game is never anything but lovely. There are flaws in the platforming, which still isn't nearly as precise as some will want it to be, but it's forgiveable when the levels are so creatively designed.
Returning is the pop-it menu, an in-game interface that lets you change your character's appearance on the fly and stamp your collected stickers over the level. There is some point to this mindless vandalism, with certain sticker points actually being switches, triggered when the correct image is plastered over the top. It's not a complicated gameplay mechanic, with a bit of resizing and rotating being as tricky as it gets, but it works in the sense that this is a world that has been cobbled together by bits and bobs.