Amidst all the kiosks at Sony's pre-E3 event, I was hesitant to visit the one for LittleBigPlanet Vita. It's not that I was expecting it to be bad. I just expected it to be "just LittleBigPlanet for Vita"--and not much else.
In many ways, my fears were correct. Playing through the new adventure mode for Vita felt like a retread to the previous two console games. I wasn't entirely fond of how touch controls were implemented. Some blocks in the world can be moved with your finger, and although they are indicated as such, it felt unnatural for me to move my hand away from the face buttons to the touch screen.
It felt like an incredibly disjointed experience, one that made LittleBigPlanet for Vita feel much clunkier than its console brethren.
My impressions changed quite significantly once I got my hands on some of the touch-specific mini-games crafted for the handheld game. As in LittleBigPlanet 2, the Vita game isn't just a platformer. The creation tools allow for entirely different gaming experiences, ones that don't necessarily feature a Sackboy.
In one mini-game, I controlled a blob that could jump and cling onto walls. The art style was vastly different from the world Sackboy inhabited, reminiscent of World of Goo. As the glob slid around the world, I could try to collect hard-to-reach stars in the environment. At the end of the level, I returned to a "title screen" specific to this mini-game, which allows for level select. New to this iteration of the LittleBigPlanet creation engine is the ability to not only link levels, but create save data for use within these games-within-a-game.
Another touch-specific mini-game had me playing multiplayer on one screen. It was air hockey, created in the LittleBigPlanet engine. While simplistic, it was a great use of Vita's multi-touch functionality and giant screen. It also showcases the potential value of the LBP ecosystem. This could be a simple standalone PSN download--but it's just one of many games that LBP fans could eventually create and share.
Yes, LittleBigPlanet for Vita is "just LittleBigPlanet for Vita." But it is also much more than that. With powerful game creation tools aimed at touch screen gameplay, I'm excited to see what kind of brilliant new game ideas appear within the LBP universe.
Watch the Shacknews E3 2012 page to follow all our coverage of this year's show. This preview is based on a hands-on demo shown at a pre-E3 event.