How do you make a jump-and-tumble platformer better? Well, of course you simply add lots of color, some new imaginative environments and more Sackboy puppets. That’s certainly the formula for the popular LittleBigPlanet games, with their customizable puppets, collectable picture stickers, and lots of cute but challenging platform puzzles.
Snippits, Snappits and Tea Can Creepies
LittleBigPlanet 3 finds our favorite wool and stuffing Sackboy plucked up and sent through a mystical, magical wormhole that plops him down in the land of Bunkum. This is yet another dream-driven world that looks like it was pasted together from scraps of yarn, fabric, marbles, cardboard and carpenter’s glue—all the tossed-off snippits and snappits that you might find laying around in Dad’s workbench junk drawer and Mom’s plastic craft crate.
This particular creative scrapbook world has a problem, though, that only a single-minded and silent Sackboy can deal with. You see, a relatively silly baddie named Newton (who has the look of a light bulb in a suit) has decided he wants to make himself the brightest burning filament in the land. And to do that he releases a trio of Titans—powerful inspiration-sucking meanies who once, long ago, almost decimated Bunkum before being bested by three brave heroes.
Once Newton frees these wicked spirits from their tea can prison, however, he himself is possessed by them and becomes their physical form through which to wreak havoc everywhere. It’s up to you and your Sackboy (or Sackgirl) to find and resurrect those aforementioned heroes—a dog-like puppet named Oddsock, a sackcloth strongman named Toggle and a stitched-together starling called Swoop. Then you join forces to battle the Titans and set things aright.
All that new creative storytelling results in some interesting twists and turns, gameplay wise. For one thing, your Sackboy gets a series of new gadgets he can use to seek out marble artifacts and bring back those ancient heroes. The hairdryer-like pumpinator, for instance, can suck and blow spongey objects around in order to make it past obstacles or electric shock blockades. The hookhat lets you slide along rails of light. And a blinkball device allows you to shoot a sphere into hard-to-reach areas and then transport your Sackpal over there in a jiffy.
You also get the go-ahead to face puzzling levels with up to three other friends jumping along for help. That trio of fluff-stuffed heroes I mentioned above gets special abilities, too. Four-legged Oddsock, for instance, is a blazing fast runner who can race straight up vertical surfaces and jump from wall to wall. Toggle can, well, toggle between being big, strong and heavy; and small, fast and light. Swoop flies and carries things through the air without the need of springboards or catapults.
Whether you’re traversing upside-down labyrinths, swimming through underwater grottos or slingshotting your way through paper-and-glue-built caves full of secret nooks and crannies, the objective is always the same: Figure out the physics, master the jumping/leaping timing, and make your way past the bosses barging into your pathway.
Then, after Sackboy wins the day, collecting stickers and rewards along the way, the truly daring can use all their puzzle-solving knowledge and stickerific booty to build fun levels and worlds all their own. The Popit Puzzles creation tutorial isn’t a new addition to the play, but the customizing tools feel fresh here. An eccentric professor walks you through each construction ability, step-by-step, and the game makes the building possibilities feel a lot like a whole new adventure unto itself.
Let’s Sew This One Up
If you’re wondering whether all those new sack friends and quirky quests stitch in any naughty nastiness, the answer is a cheery “not really!” Sack puppet friends can be zapped by electric shocks, singed by fire and hit by twirling spikes. But there’s no noticeable physical impact and even a “lost” Sackboy life is only a temporary blink-out setback before another regenerated try.
Crude or rude language is limited to Newton calling people “bird-brains” and “fools.” So him being “possessed” by the Titans is the worst of the game’s content. But that onscreen spiritual zip-zapping is deemed a very bad thing indeed: Even Newton’s lightbulb father later berates him for venturing near such foolish phenomena.
It’s like I always told my own kids, the more cute and cuddly sack puppets living in your lightly kneaded dreams, the merrier!
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.