LittleBigPlanet released on PS3 over two years ago and instantly concreted itself as a landmark title for the system. Sackboy, the adorable stitched doll who is the main character, has become an icon for the PlayStation brand, and is about to partake on his second retail game release in LittleBigPlanet 2 in early 2011. Soothing the wait for eager fans, Media Molecule has unleashed standalone title Sackboy's Prehistoric Moves onto PlayStation Network, with Sackboy transported back in time to face off against the Evil Big Rex. In this offline co-operative only game, Sackboys and Sackgirls team up with DualShock and Move controllers in hand to defeat this evil beastie, collecting trophies along the way.
LittleBigPlanet is known for its creative level design, either engineered by Media Molecule itself or the millions of user created levels online, and Terrance Dactyl has expertly engineered ten prehistoric-themed levels that are brought to life with erupting volcanoes and roaming dinosaurs. Sackboy has obtained the power of PlayStation Move, and all levels are designed specifically for the implementation of Move, but two players are required to play, one controlling Sackboy while the other plays a support role with the Move controller, a small round circle cursor. Sackboy can no longer run and jump his way through the level himself as the obstacles can’t be scaled by his skills alone. These inaccessible areas are marked by bright pink coloured objects that can only be manipulated by the Move controller, and it’s the job of the Move holder to find how to manipulate these objects correctly to navigate Sackboy to the end of these challenging levels. Pink blocks can be stacked up so Sackboy can climb up a high ledge, and falling objects that can hurt our fragile hero can be diverted with Move to keep an object above him as he crosses the dangerous area. Objects will be pulled to launch the clothy chap up in the air and platforms activated for safe passage across deadly gaps, but there's plenty of variety and these are only a few examples of the challenges that will be faced throughout the game.
The new levels once again look gorgeous, and even though the game is built upon the original LittleBigPlanet engine instead of the new game engine seen in the LittleBigPlanet 2 beta it still looks as great and full of the charm that can be expected from the franchise. LittleBigPlanet veterans will be instantly familiar with dropping into the cardboard pod with the plush Earth behind being utilised as an overworld for the levels it holds. The cardboard cut-out style of the game remains with vibrant colours and wacky characters throughout all ten levels, along with bringing some new tunes that are perfectly fitting of the game's prehistoric theme. It all comes together here as perfectly as it always has with previous levels crafted by the talented hands at Media Molecule.
Ease of play that allows gamers of all ages to be able to enjoy has been a staple for the series. Sackboy runs and jumps easily with the analogue stick and X button respectively, with the R1 button used to grab hold of objects. Move is nothing more than pointing the cursor and pulling the trigger on objects to manipulate them accordingly, and is as accurate as ever with issues only being found if the camera loses sight of the orb, and recalibration only requires pointing at the screen and pressing Triangle. Controlling Sackboy and moving the objects with Move feels natural even to those with only a little platforming experience, yet even though the controls are great there are still issues to be found here. Teamwork is critical, as the objects have to be placed accurately and timely, and triggers need to be activated with precise timing for Sackboy’s safe passage. Frustration can quickly ensue if the players playing cannot cooperate with each other in game as well as verbally outside the game. Up to five players total can play together, with four Sackboys and one Move user, which can be loads of fun with friends or total chaos as it all depends on the skill levels of the players, and younger gamers may find this to be too difficult. This is best played with two, and with a good partner beside you Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves is a great standalone title.
The levels can initially be played through in a little over an hour tops, but the hidden special bubbles to collect and ace runs (completing a level without dying) to obtain trophies add some much needed replay value. Sadly the special bubbles don’t hold new items to customise Sackboy’s appearance here, as he can only be customised with the items given from the start of the game. Keys hidden throughout the levels unlock unique mini-game levels that utilise a unique gameplay element and theme from the level the key was obtained in. Trophies can be earned for achieving high scores on the levels and will challenge even the best, as it takes great teamwork to achieve. Collecting all the trophies and items with a friend can be great fun, yet still if a suitable partner is nowhere to be found, this could easily end in frustration all too quickly.
PlayStation Plus members will find Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves already available on PSN as a free download, and non-members will be able to purchase on December 14th for $5.99 or £5.99 depending on location. LittleBigPlanet 2 is slated for a release in January 2011 and Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves will be available on the disc as well, something to be taken into account if you're planning on purchasing the upcoming game. This could have been a simple add-on to the original LittleBigPlanet, but for Move owners yet to experience LittleBigPlanet this is instead a great way to sample the charm to be had with the series, as the original game doesn’t need to be purchased to play.
We're no strangers to local co-op gameplay, and having a capable partner made for a great couple of hours with Sackboy. Having a real living person by the side while enjoying a video game isn’t a norm in our modern virtual society, and this prehistoric outing forces friends to sit down and play together like they did in ancient history. LittleBigPlanet fans will enjoy the new gameplay elements and those new to the series will get a taste of the charm to be had with Sackboy, as long as they have an adequate partner.