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Recently, I’ve been working on getting all the unlockable items from LittleBigPlanet 1 & 2 for Create mode, so I’ve had a good chance to compare the two games. Perhaps the most striking difference is an overall shift in metaphor.

LittleBigPlanet is all about the idea that the world is handmade. Objects are very big, thick, and blocky. NPCs are obviously made of bolted-together objects, with their interactive parts pasted on. When LBP came out, there was no option to change the visibility of your connectors, so everything is exposed in story mode. If an object wobbles, you can see the wobble bolt. If something reacts to you, you can see the proximity microchip light up. There’s a heavy emphasis on presenting the idea that you could make this yourself.

LittleBigPlanet 2 is more about presenting a finished world. The seams are hidden more. NPCs act like characters, following you around, and reacting (in a limited fashion) to your actions. There’s still a blocky, handmade look, but the connections and game logic are hidden. It’s more of a traditional game story: rather than being a puppet moving through a diorama, you’re a character in a world.

Other than that, they just did an impressiveĀ  number of tweaks without changing the underlying game mechanics. Characters seem to move better, objects look better, and fire looks like fire instead of a wispy sheet of flames. It must have been an interesting development experience – needing to tighten the gameplay and improve the graphics without invalidating any levels created in LittleBigPlanet 1.

It’s the classic question of a sequel: how much can you change without fundamentally changing anything at all? In LBP’s case, the answer is “quite a bit!”

  1. February 8, 2011 at 12:29 am

    I found another difference between LBP and LBP2:
    LittleBigPlanet is terrible!

    It really kicks in after the first few areas, which is why I didn’t notice it at first. But there are some fundamental problems with the first game’s physics engine, exacerbated by some terrible level design, that makes the whole thing just totally not fun. I remember now why I had memories of grinding through LittleBigPlanet, but never really memories of enjoying it.

    Here’s an example. Sackboy’s jump does not work well – at all – when you’re on a moving object. The momentum of the object interferes with his movement, so you might just stumble and fail to jump at all, or you might launch in the direction you were moving, or you might make an entirely normal jump. Sackboy also has a problem with small, curved surfaces, which likewise interfere with his jump physics.

    What should we do, guys? Let’s make a level composed entirely of jumping between small, round, spinning objects!

    After playing LBP and LBP2, two things amaze me: first, that anyone actually enjoyed LBP enough to make levels for it, and second, that they managed to turn LBP2 into a tight, satisfying action game without seemingly changing anything about the movement engine. I think they just cleaned up the edge cases (literally – edges were another thing that caused jumps to fail and Sackboys to die) creating a much more reliable gameplay experience.

  2. February 26, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    I ended up Acing and 100%-ing all of LBP1. The completionist in me wouldn’t let me be satisfied when there was useful stuff that I owned but hadn’t unlocked.

    There are some tricks that make some of the tough stuff more playable. For example, in the ‘jumping off spinning objects’ level that I mentioned in my last comment, what you need to do is to release your grip, run across the top of the object to get your balance, and then make your jump. It’s still twitchy and unreliable, though.

    So maybe LBP1 didn’t deserve such ire, but I am still very, very happy that they improved the system for LBP2.

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