The LittleBigPlanet series is one of the best titles of the past decade. Its legacy in multiplayer games and player-made content is apparent and deeply felt. From the cute visuals, the great platforming, and overall fun gameplay, you can see touches of LittleBigPlanet in a lot of titles. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been an entry to this acclaimed game series for quite some time now, which is a sad thing. Luckily for this year, there’s a new entry as Sackboy makes a cute return in Sackboy: A Big Adventure.
But before we can get to this new entry on the series, we need to take you back a notch to the original LittleBigPlanet.
Who Is Sackboy and What Franchise Is He From?
Now for those who don’t know about Sackboy, he came from a beloved game series by the name of LittleBigPlanet. The series is a puzzle platform franchise published by Sony Entertainment and developed by Media Molecule to be released on multiple PlayStation platforms.
The games in the LittleBigPlanet series have put an incredibly strong emphasis on user-created content because of the series’ tagline, “Play, Create, Share.” This tagline emphasizes the series’ three core elements: players can either play by themselves or with others locally, either on the same game console or online.
The ability to create new and exciting content through the use of the in-game creation tools available to them. Lastly, players have the ability to share their creations online where they can be seen and used by other players.
The franchise has released three main games. Several spinoff games enjoyed some commercial success as well, bringing the total number of titles under the franchise to five. The games vary in theme.
LittleBigPlanet Karting is a racing game that’s similar to Mario Kart. Sackboy’s Prehistoric Adventures, Run Sackboy! Run!, and LittleBigPlanet Hub are the other spinoff games you can play. And finally, our topic for today, Sackboy: A Big Adventure, joins the list to give gamers more Sackboy content.
What Kind of Game is Sackboy: A Big Adventure?
Let’s talk about the game itself for a little bit now, shall we?
Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a 2020 platform game released by Sony Entertainment and created by Sumo Digital for the PS4 and PS5 consoles. As mentioned, the game’s a spinoff of the LittleBigPlanet series and follows the titular Sackboy. It features 3D platforming, rather than the usual 2.5D of the game’s previous entries.
The game was revealed alongside other games on the PS5’s reveal event, which was live-streamed on the 11th of June, 2020. The game was also announced to also have a release on PlayStation’s older console, the PS4, on a blog post by developers on September 16. Sackboy: A Big Adventure was released on both consoles on November 12, 2020 in North America and Oceania, and the world finally got their hands on this game on November 19, 2020.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure Review
Now, let’s talk about how Sackboy: A Big Adventure fares today on the PS4 and PS5.
What Makes it Different From Other Little Big Planet Games?
First things first, is the fact that Sackboy: A Big Adventure is going to be the first on the LittleBigPlanet series to feature full 3D gameplay. This is groundbreaking for the series when compared to the usual 2.5D gameplay that the previous titles have. The player can make Sackboy jump, obtain Score Bubbles, jump on various objects like Bounce Pads, and fight enemies in full 3D.
The game’s exploration mechanics are also expanded upon due to the shift to a 3D perspective. This means that the game now looks similar to Super Mario Odyssey. While it’s not a huge shift, seeing as the game’s pretty much similar enough to it even back in the day, but it’s a noticeable change for players who loved the original games in the series.
Next on the agenda is the fact that the developers also said that they created the game to be purely focused on gameplay. Due to this, Sackboy: A Big Adventure doesn’t contain LittleBigPlanet’s Create Mode. The removed mode was a selling point feature on all of the LittleBigPlanet games up to that point, and its removal was one that’s will probably annoy some fans of the original series.
The game’s story is pretty generic from our perspective. However, it’s helped by the fact that Sackboy and the game are just so damn cute. Like a lot of platformers that came before it, the story isn’t something that Sackboy: A Big Adventure focuses on.
The game’s story is an incredibly simple one. The player takes control of the titular Sackboy as he explores the Craftworld to find Dream Orbs. He intends to use these orbs to defeat Vex. Vex, the big bad who looks like a pretty creepy ventriloquist doll, wishes to corrupt Craftworld and turn it into a place of nightmares.
And while it’s all fine and dandy, and that the player gets a pretty steady stream of dialog reminding them that Vex is an evil villain. Other than the plot itself and what Sackboy needs to do, there’s not much that the player needs to know. There’s even an argument that could be said that the game’s story is a waste in the face of Sackboy’s cuteness.
On the flip side, you can also argue that Sackboy’s very cuteness keeps the player’s attention and interest in the game afloat in spite of its lackluster story. The game’s sense of style, as well as overall presentation, is great. And all in all, the game is a nonstop barrage of fun that can give you hours of fun.
From Sackboy’s adorableness to the stages that are seemingly made out of cardboard cutouts and other materials, it’s a game that’s made with ultimate cuteness. We’ll talk a bit more on this on the level design review but it’s just something that has to be mentioned. After all, the world Sackboy is playing in is part of the storytelling.
The first thing that players need to know is that a lot of the stages in Sackboy are pretty easy to finish but hard to fully complete. You can get easily clear a level if you have a basic grasp of the game. However, getting all the cosmetic items, Dreamer Orbs, enough points for the highest rank without dying at all poses quite a challenge. Getting a 100% completion of Sackboy: A Big Adventure requires a certain mastery of the game’s mechanics and physics.
However, players can easily go through the level and get the collectibles due to a pretty generous life and checkpoint system. Do note that unless you’re looking for them, it’s a rare thing that you can get all of the collectibles on your first attempt. The game’s later levels and time trials increase the difficulty of the game. However, the main focus is still on the platforming segments. The game was not designed with speedrunning in mind.
There are some annoyances in the gameplay that wouldn’t be that apparent on the initial levels. It’s the fact that the camera and controls can be a bit wonky. Due to the game’s level design (more on that later), the camera tends to move around and transition to several camera modes. The controls can be a bit inconsistent and janky, making the game unnecessarily hard in some segments of the game. While it’s not to the extent that it’s unplayable, it is just wonky enough to frustrate the player off the face of the earth.
Coattails of Inspiration
As mentioned before, the game seems to have taken quite a bit of inspiration and structure from a few Super Mario platforming games. If you’re looking for specific inspiration, A Big Adventure has the same feel as Super Mario 64 and Super Mario Odyssey. It also borrows elements from a few of Nintendo’s other platformers.
Now, this isn’t said to detract from the game’s overall polish and style. However, the game is so similar to them that when you directly compare it to these games, there are some areas where Sackboy falls a bit short. A specific and quite important one in this is how deep and enjoyable the game’s platforming feels.
Don’t get us wrong, Sackboy: A Big Adventure is a great platforming game overall. However, the game’s jumping is a bit imprecise on occasion. This is even more apparent when Sackboy is trying to bounce on certain objects like the heads of his enemies or the various bouncy things scattered around the map. Other things that can become a nuisance are the air time when jumping being a bit longer or the slight skid whenever Sackboy runs. It’s not going to be that apparent and obvious to the casual player, but platforming fans can more than tell the difference.
The Need For Better Movement Controls
To add more to the movement part, Sackboy has a pretty apparent lack of any additional techniques that offer additional depth and nuance to his move set. When compared to Mario, who has a pretty versatile hat on Super Mario Odyssey, Sackboy only can extend jump distance by doing mid-air rolls and punches, He can’t do a lot of things, and that fact may affect how players enjoy the game.
Granted, it’s still early days yet, so there might be additional movement options still undiscovered. But still, more and better movement options can be a plus. The fact that the developers didn’t manage to add more variety to Sackboy’s movements will disappoint some fans.
A lot of the game’s trademark charm and cuteness comes from its great music. This includes the series’ original OST’s, some pretty clever remixes of older soundtracks, and some reworks of recognizable classics that you’ll just have to listen to find out. Included in these are a few handfuls of levels that have some musical themes.
Though this gives some spice to the level design, these levels tend to be a bit repetitive to hear as some songs just repeat over and over again until the level’s finished. The songs will definitely sound a bit monotonous after a certain amount of time. However, this doesn’t take away from the fact that the game’s music was created masterfully
What makes the platforming on the game fun is actually how frequently the game’s levels keep things interesting. These levels also provide opportunities for the game to show the players new mechanics and skills that they can use. A level in the game might seem to be a pretty straightforward platforming level. Another will have Sackboy escort and herd cute creatures into pens. There might be another level that’s will make Sackboy dodge spotlights to avoid being seen.
The game also swaps the player’s camera perspective pretty often. The isometric camera view sometimes shifts to a side-scroller. There are even parts of the game where the camera switches to a top-down angle as it is what the level requires to be playable. This comes into play on quite a few levels in the game, so the player should stay sharp and be ready for these camera transitions.
Lastly, some levels introduce power-ups that alter Sackboy’s movement and combat mechanics. These powerups can range from a laser pistol and hoverboots to a boomerang. There are more of these powerups on the game, of course, but saying any more would run into spoiler territory. Some mechanics even change the way players see the levels they’re in and provide interesting solutions to some of the game’s puzzles.
The game’s levels get better if they’re played in Co-Op mode. This is because the stages are made in mind to be enjoyed with other people. Without minding a few of the game’s co-op-only levels that are optional to complete, the game’s campaign can be still played and enjoyed on a single-player run. However, the game’s additional charm is more apparent when you’re playing through the levels with other people, taking advantage of the various pathways and areas the levels have.
One thing that’s a real shame is the fact that Sackboy: A Big Adventure doesn’t support any form of online co-op during launch. This is something that’s said to be coming before the end of 2020 in a free patch, which is nice. However, it still seems odd that a game that wants players to play together and actively encourages it doesn’t have online co-op during a time where everyone is encouraged to socially distance from each other.
Luckily, the game’s local co-op works perfectly. This feature does a great job in allowing both players to play the game how they wish. If they want to work together to complete the level, that’s good. If they want to compete to get a higher score, also great. However, If one player wants to completely dunk on the other player by blocking his path making him fall to his doom? Incredibly doable.
In short, it’s more than recommended to play the game’s multiplayer mode if you have someone with you. The game opens up more opportunities to experience the game. Moreover, it’s just more fun that way.
Sackboy: A Big Adventure’s aesthetic is incredibly similar to its predecessors. It works well, to the game’s credit. There are a lot of adorable, cute, and awesome visual details in the levels that make the game a worthwhile experience.
From hand-drawn cutouts of various animals in the level’s background, the various enemies look as squishy and adorable as Sackboy himself. The art style and graphics look equally precious. The whole setting seems to look as if it’s all happening in a child’s bedroom. Which is apt for the Craftverse. Though some may say that this is pretty uninspiring and very generic of a children’s game, I say that it fits the setting, world, and narrative.
In addition to this, the game’s graphics show the incredible improvements in the technical capabilities that the PS5 has. The game’s bright, vivid, and colorful levels, which have various moving parts, areas, enemies, and platforms, create a feast for the eyes when viewed in 4K. The camera is incredibly smooth and transitions from place to place in a slick and graceful fashion. You won’t notice it due to the visuals, but it’s a nice touch.
The game has quite a few secrets and collectibles scattered throughout the levels. These secrets make it a good idea for players to go back and replay the levels again. In addition to this, if you have a friend that can come and play co-op locally. You will have quite a bit of fun playing the game with another person helping (or impeding) your progress. You can more than turn this platformer game into a sort of party game, which adds to the game’s fun value.
Unfortunately, as we’ve already mentioned, there’s no Create Mode or online co-op on Sackboy: A Big Adventure. This means that players can only replay existing levels in the game. And even if online co-op gets added later on, there’s only so many times you can replay the game’s levels before you get tired of its charm.
Is It A Fun Game to Play?
First off, the game plays like a dream on PS4 and PS5. In addition to this, the visuals are beautiful and cute. If you want to go and explore an adorable world filled with secrets and great platforming. Then, this game’s pretty much tailor-made for you. In short, I recommend getting Sackboy: A Big Adventure for the PS4 or the PS5.