Little Big Planet's release date is slowly creeping closer, but some members of the editorial team have already jumped into the limited beta to get a feel for what's to come. It's hard to ignore Sackboy's innocent smile or droopy expressions as we explore the wonderful world of Little Big Planet. We hope to eventually build levels from scratch and share them with everyone in our world. (Ambitious, we know.) However, at this point we're quite content exploring with friends and goofing around.
Shaun McInnis: Thanks to what has been more or less universally glowing coverage, I think everyone around here has had some pretty high hopes for Little Big Planet. We all knew it was going to be great, but with a game like this, text previews and limited hands-on sessions--achieved via elbowing through crowds of strangers at a game convention--can't do it justice. LBP is very much a social game that's at its best when it's you and three other players playing locally. The chaos that ensues when you've got four cute little Sack people trying to learn inventive new platforming mechanics and solve odd puzzles is best appreciated in person, with friends around. You also get a better appreciation for the wonderfully makeshift cardboard-cutout artwork and infectious music when you're all sharing in it together. I knew this was going to be a very social game, but I figured that was largely based on the content-sharing aspects of it. Although the ability to create levels and share them with others online is certainly still a great feature, I simply underestimated how much fun it would be to get a few buddies together, ignore all the Web 2.0 business, and actually play the game.
Ricardo Torres: So, after a good year of frenzy-inducing hype, the Little Big Planet beta is out and it's still packing some serious charm. After having seen different demos of the game for a while now, it was surprising to get a feel for the actual story wrapper of the game. The live-action opener and the Stephen Fry narration are cool and give the game a unique feel. It's this weird hybrid of droll British humor and Japanese levels of cute character design wrapped up in a quirky platformer. Considering how much we've seen of it, I wasn't expecting to still be as impressed. The game's surreal look is goofy fun and it has a real personality. I'm very taken with Sackboy because of how fully formed he is as a mascot. You just don't see mascot-worthy characters as often as you used to, so it's always a nice surprise to see one. Above and beyond that, the gameplay has a nice, comfortable feel to it. You can see Mario in the game's DNA, and that's fine. There are some quirks to the action, like keeping track of which plane you're running on, but it hasn't seemed to be much of an issue right now. It also makes for some funny moments when you're playing with friends, which adds to the game's appeal. I'm only just starting to mess around with the creator stuff. Although I'm a little intimidated after the Parsons thing, I'm impressed by the depth of options. I'm so curious to see how the final game shapes up.
Sophia Tong: I've managed to avoid Little Big Planet for the most part until this past weekend, when a group of us went to Parsons the New School for Design in New York City. I had the opportunity to watch students put together elaborate level designs in just 24 hours. I still didn't get any hands-on time until later this week, and now I can see exactly what all the fuss is about.
What I think is so appealing with LBP at first is how everything feels familiar. Sackboy certainly is cute, but not in the overly girly sort of way. He's like the lovable sock puppet we all (I?) had when we were younger. The household items and handmade objects make it feel like you're sifting through a giant bag of toys that you once had. Being able to create, share, and jump into each other's levels will provide an endless stream of content that I hope will still be enjoyable after many long hours. I love multiplayer games, and just being able to wander the levels, drag your friends around, and stamp on their faces is enough to keep me amused. I can't wait to really dive into the game, since I'm still slugging my way through tutorials at the moment. But being able to head-bang with the Sixaxis while my Sackboy is in an Elizabethan getup is hilarious. I love it.