Friday, February 11, 2011

One-Sentence Reviews - Volume Two

One-Sentence Reviews was popular when it originally premiered here on SPC in March of last year. It doesn't seem that long at all. What I do with One-Sentence Reviews is create a review that is short, to the point (most of the time), and one sentence long (at least I try). Sometimes I goof up, and the sentence is a run-on. That's cheating, I know, but it's still fun to play around with this method of reviewing. I have thirty more games I will be quickly reviewing like a reviewing assembly line. Let's do it to it!

"Samus Aran is still a viable heroine even after the events of the game" Metroid: Other M (Wii)


"Play, create, and share with what are probably the strongest developer tools this side of consoles!" LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3)

"Take on bite-sized missions or take down a giant beast from the Monster Hunter series in Snake's latest mission." Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP)

"Sure, the story is nonsense, but the gameplay is still as fast and fun as ever." Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep (PSP)

"A lack of old-school TMNT characters hurts this otherwise competent brawler." Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up! (Wii, PS2)

"Sure, he may be a douchier Indiana Jones, but the thrills and chills don't fail to excite in this epic adventure." Uncharted 2: Among Thieves (PS3)


"Ratchet's latest journey is a time-altering treat worthy of the series' caliber." Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time (PS3)

"Disappointing and definitely not "Oscar-worthy", GTA IV takes realism but gives away fun in return." Grand Theft Auto IV (PS3, 360)

"The AI gets cheap even on the Easy difficulty setting, so take note, tennis-amateurs!" Hot Shots Tennis: Get A Grip (PSP)

"When he's not gobbling up ghosts and pellets, Pac-Man is saving the world in a fun, camera-problematic game." Pac-Man World 2 (PS2, GCN, XBX)

"Three games for the price of $40 US-- sign me up!" The Sly Collection (PS3)

"Two games for the price of $40 US-- sign me up!" God of War Collection (PS3)

"A game that is fun, addicting, and will give you a great case of the munchies, The Munchables is one of the Wii's most overlooked games period." The Munchables (Wii)

"A lack of characters and courses when compared to the PS2 games makes the latest console Hot Shots Golf a disappointment." Hot Shots Golf: Out of Bounds (PS3)

"I suck at this game totally, but it's still a blast." Super Street Fighter 4 (PS3, 360)


"Camelot concocts an epic JRPG that has great dungeon puzzles and gorgeous visuals for the GBA." Golden Sun (GBA)

"Old-school Zelda for PS3 fans." 3D Dot Game Heroes (PS3)

"This game gets too much unwarranted hate as it is quite fun to create music." Wii Music (Wii)

"Bring some wine spritzers and those tiny umbrellas as this party is one for the ages!" Wii Party (Wii)

"Cooperative play doesn't damn the game-- it just makes the experience less scary all-in-all." Resident Evil 5 (PS3, 360)


"This game shows that Move works and works well." Sports Champions (PS3)

"Even with Tiger Woods' wife being the leading money winner in the PGA (stole that joke from Letterman), Tiger's newest golf simulator gets high marks as it's great fun." Tiger Woods PGA Tour 11 (PS3, 360, Wii)

"Following LittleBigPlanet's mantra, this game also has you creating and sharing racers, tracks, and designs for some serious enjoyment." ModNation Racers (PS3, PSP)

"The God of War is back, and he's once again pissed (what else is new?)." God of War: Ghost of Sparta (PSP)

"Easier to get into than Street Fighter, Tatsunoko is an addicting fighter filled to the brim with content and cool characters." Tatsunoko VS. Capcom: Ultimate All-Stars (Wii)


"Chisel your way to victory in this incredible puzzler with hundreds of puzzles and the ability to create your own and share online with friends." Picross 3D (DS)

"This game will make feminists rage with anger at how stereotypically emotional a woman, Princess Peach, gets." Super Princess Peach (DS)

"The premise of hitting buttons rhythmically gets old quickly." Patapon (PSP)

"War-- what is he good for-- absolutely everything." Darksiders (PS3, 360)

"The camera is simply awful, and quite frankly, the constant Kingdom Hearts spin-offs are wearing thin on me." Kingdom Hearts: Re: Coded (DS)

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Hopefully you won't have to wait nearly a year for the next installment of One-Sentence Reviews. Would you like to see this feature more often? Did you enjoy it? Give everyone your opinion inside the comments section.

SuperPhillip: The Game (LittleBigPlanet 2, PS3) Update

LittleBigPlanet was SuperPhillip Central's Game of the Year 2008. Perhaps you love this gem, too! I've enjoyed the game enough that I've decided to create a series of levels-- a "game" if you will-- using LittleBigPlanet's (and 2's) expansive creation tools.

Just some quick history: my user name is based off the character I created in second grade as part of some creative project in school. Not the other way around. Since then, I've created multiple versions and mythos of the character. SuperPhillip: The Game will be a yearlong project of mine. I've completed an RPG featuring my character, so this isn't too big of a stretch to do.

The game will have six worlds of three levels each. Each third level will conclude with a boss battle featuring one of the many villains of the SuperPhillip universe. Each level has five prize bubbles that will unlock that level's challenge world-- a shorter, more challenging level-- sometimes a race, sometimes a survival challenge, sometimes a high score affair.

0-1 The Warehouse



This level is the first of many, and it serves as the tutorial level. The information provided from SuperPhillip's friend, Dan, may seem elementary, but I'm making it so the game takes it that LittleBigPlanet doesn't even exist and that SuperPhillip: The Game is all the player has to learn these things. As it is its own game, I'm including everything that a retail game would have-- a coherent story, a tutorial to assist players, and loads of collectibles.

The Warehouse does not have anything to kill the player. I didn't want the tutorial level to have anything like that, but rest assured every other level definitely will. There are checkpoints in case for whatever you reason you get stuck (which you shouldn't since there's a way out of everything).

Unlike every other level, this one has six prize bubbles. The others will have five. They're usually well-hidden or hard to reach. It is a tutorial level, but there are definitely secrets to be found!

Please let me know what you think of the level. Remember that this level is the first of eighteen, so it is easy. It wouldn't be good design to make it tough or easy to die at the very first level.

1-1 Central City



Central City is the first story level of SuperPhillip: The Game! It's actually a two part level which I wasn't really planning, but I ran out of space-- not thermometer-wise but room-wise. There was nowhere left to build to the east. That was a blessing though because it allowed me to add so much detail to make the city come to life. Now this definitely filled the thermometer.

As with 0-1: The Warehouse, there are five hidden prize bubbles to collect. This earns you the sticker needed to reach the key. If you're just rushing through the level, you're not really doing it right. I've built my levels (excluding challenge levels) to encourage exploration. I hope you will look around. This level is split into two parts. Part 2 is quite exhilarating, so please look forward to it!



1-2 The Sewers



After being blown down below Central City's surface, SuperPhillip must find a way out of the subterranean depths of the sewer. Poisonous gas from Dr. Christian's robots has caused the otherwise stinky dungeon to become hazardous to one's health! Can you beat the Crocbots, survive the deadly gas, and get out of the sewers alive?



1-3 Power Plant



The first of the Fearsome Five is holding himself inside a nearby power plant. His name is Electrohound, and he's packing heat! The mechanized menaces inside the power plant will certainly shock you to your very core! From spinning wheels to electrified walls, can anyone put an end to Electrohound's evil rampage?



2-1 The Forest



The second of the Fearsome Five is hiding out in a temple inside the forest. Reaching him won't be easy. Hop on the heads of Rockin' Robins to reach new heights. Leap over fiery platforms, and take it to 'em! Just watch out for those snake-like Slithers!



2-2 The Treetops



Going on the ground's too dangerous, so it's time to head up into the treetops to reach Rosebud's temple. Avoid venomous spiders, falling lava rocks, and other dangers as you inch closer to Rosebud.



2-3 The Temple




Inside the temple of Rosebud lies danger everywhere from falling platforms to slithering snakes to rising magma to spinning wheels of doom! You're close to taking down Rosebud, but can you go the distance?



3-1 The Marina



Now it's time for the Aqualord, the third of the Fearsome Five to get his comeuppance! You arrive at a peaceful seaside marina, but not all is as it seems. You'll face explosive-shooting robots, ride a robotic bunny through a fiery lighthouse, and deal with electrified Jellofish! Can you reach the S.S. Big Toe (the submarine)?

3-2 The Ocean



Ah... the ocean depths, peaceful one second, dangerous the next. Face off against a giant octopus, submarines, and the ocean's underwater puzzles in this waterlogged adventure. Just remember to keep on your Scuba Suit!

Challenge stages 0-1, 1-1, and 1-2 are playable as well for a limited time!



If you own a PS3 and a copy of LittleBigPlanet 2, please try out my levels. You can find them under the name "SuperPhillip"!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Mario Sports Mix (Wii) Review

Two new reviews in one week? Has your good buddy, SP, gone mad? Apparently so, but I'm not complaining. Tonight we have a new game to review, and it's known in the Mushroom Kingdom as Mario Sports Mix for the Nintendo Wii. After the botched attempt at a sports title from Square-Enix's first go-round in Mario Hoops 3-on-3, how do they fare doing four sports instead of just one? Let's find out.

Four score and several sports ago


Mario is a man of a thousand professions. When he's not cleaning pipes as a plumber, he's refereeing a match between Little Mac and King Hippo, and when he's not doing one of his many jobs he takes the time to cut loose and have some fun. Perhaps on the golf course, tennis court, racetrack, or Olympic event. Now the Mushroom Kingdom cast is participating in four sports this go around with Mario Sports Mix. Featuring four unique sports: basketball, volleyball, dodgeball, and hockey, does Mario's mix keep players coming back for more?

When a meteorite falls from the heavens and crashes nearby Peach's Castle, a brigade of Toads investigate. What they uncover is a rainbow-colored crystal just begging to be broken open. The Toads break up the crystal into four pieces-- each with a game ball or puck inside-- one for each of the four sports Mario Sports Mix contains. The Toads then decide to create trophies out of the four differently-colored crystals and have the denizens of the Mushroom Kingdom participate in a series of tournaments for each of the sports to see which duo or trio of characters deserves the trophies and the title of champions.

Each sport follows the same basic idea. There are three cups to each sport: Mushroom, Flower, and Star. Each cup lasts three matches each. It's tournament-styled, so the tourney begins with eight characters, weeds off four for the second round, and then it's a one-on-one battle in the final round to see who will be the champion. There's three difficulty modes in Mario Sports Mix, but you'll have to tough it out and be bored playing on Normal difficulty first. The AI is so brain-dead and easy to defeat that you might get the wrong impression about the game. It's not an impossible feat to beat an opponent by at least one-hundred points given the particular sport. Of course, Hard and Expert modes offer more of a challenge. There's no catch-up AI to speak of, but the Expert mode will have you cursing at the screen quite often. Luckily, nothing is unlocked from completing Expert mode (which coincidentally is the SportsMix mode that unlocks after beating the Star Cup in all four sports).

From downtown!

In all sports, collecting coins and items is key. In basketball, volleyball, and hockey, grabbing coins gives you extra points for when you score. Items are used to throw your opposition off-balance, giving you the edge. Dodgeball is a different case. Coins gives your characters' throwing arms more power. More damage is taken off when you have more coins in your possession. Items in this mode are used the same way as in the other three sports.

After you beat a sport completely, you have the option of replaying said sport in hopes of unlocking alternate pathways to gain new locales and characters. In the Star Cup, you can bypass the traditional tournament mode and take a trip via airship to Star Road. It's here where you can unlock all sorts of goodies by participating in matches with bonus stipulations such as your opponents having a huge lead on you, the first goal wins, or items are exceptionally larger than usual. By completing Star Road, you unlock new characters for all four sports. It's important to note that most of the time, you only gain new characters and arenas in the sport you're currently playing in. For instance, that means that you have to unlock a character or arena in all four sports which is, quite frankly, a needless hassle. Oftentimes, Star Road occurs seemingly randomly in the first place, so trying to unlock it is an effort in frustration when sometimes you do get a chance to try the mode out, and sometimes you don't.

Speaking of characters and arenas, there's a multitude to open up and play with or on. There's a total of twelve Mushroom Kingdom members to play with including standbys like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Daisy, Yoshi, Toad, Donkey Kong, Diddy Kong, Wario, Waluigi, Bowser, and Bowser Jr. Then there's the secret characters that, like Mario Hoops 3-on-3, are comprised of Final Fantasy characters such as the Ninja, White Mage, Black Mage, Moogle, Cactuar, and even Dragon Quest's mascot, the Slime, to play as. On the spectrum of arenas, there's fourteen in total. These range from traditional gimmick-free levels like Mario Stadium to places like Koopa Troopa Beach where the tide comes in, pulling in green shells to use on your opponents, Bowser Jr. Boulevard where you can score multipliers and point bonuses (or have points taken away) for scoring, and Daisy Garden where the premise at least in basketball is to slam or shoot the ball inside Petey Piranha's mouth while it remains open. Each arena is full of eye-candy and things to gawk at. Not every sport can be played in every arena. Waluigi Pinball can house hockey, volleyball, and dodgeball, but not basketball, for instance.

Basketball

One thing to add before I begin is that any sport can be played 2-on-2 or 3-on-3. In a given cup, you can play with up to two other friends to help you out. Furthermore, players have a choice between the Wii remote and nunchuk or just simply the Wii remote turned sideways by itself. The goal of basketball is simple: earn points by either shooting the ball into the net or slam dunking it. With the ball, players can juke around opponents handily while defense can try to swat the ball away from their competition with the A button. Like NBA Jam, shooting is performed by waving the Wii remote up into the air to jump and then lowering it to shoot. By running up to the net, you can perform a slam dunk this way. The opening tip-off is also handled by waving up the Wii remote to grab the ball as it is tossed into the air. The A button is additionally the designated pass button. Just watch out so you don't pass in the sights of your opponent as they will steal the ball away from you. Unlike the NBA, there are no fouls and no goaltending. Though a shot clock violation is still enforced even in the Mushroom Kingdom. Basketball can become very intense depending on the set rules. There's generally two periods of three minutes each for games in Tournament mode. This happens to be one of my favorite sports as your CPU teammate actually helps out instead of simply standing there like in Mario Hoops 3-on-3 on the Nintendo DS.

Luigi goes about this whole basketball thing the wrong way.

Volleyball

Nothing like beach volleyball on Koopa Troopa Beach with Peach or Daisy wearing short-shorts to resonate memories of Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball, eh? Those thoughts aside (perverts), volleyball is played with two or three teammates working together to knock the ball into the court of the opposing side. The first player serves the ball by waving up the Wii remote and then slamming it downward to strike it over the net. The opposition then volleys the ball to each teammate to set up an opportunity for a player to slam the ball to the other side of the net, hopefully scoring a point or points in the case of having coins. You can move the projected point of impact with the analog stick or d-pad as you set up your shot to attempt to fool your opponents at the very last possible second. If a player hits the ball out of bounds, the opposing team earns that point. Each game in volleyball goes to fifteen points. The winner, best two-out-of-three sets, earns the victory.

Volley to your partner to build up enough momentum to strike.

Hockey

Either played on ice, sand, grass, or whatever themed arena floor you're playing on, hockey is a fun sport where the camera shows the rink vertically unlike Mario and Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games where the rink was shown in a horizontal fashion. Players can win the face-off by waving the Wii remote. You can also body-check opponents this way as well and fire off shots at the net. Your goalie is usually a Shy Guy (AI-controlled) which can be told to dive for the puck with the hit of a button. Like the NHL, there's plenty of opportunities for fights, one-timers, slapshots (by holding a button and then striking with the Wii remote), and trashtalk. By pressing and keeping down the A button, you can perform a combo move (this is used in every sport, not just hockey) to pass the puck to your teammate to pull off a one-timer. Like basketball, there's two periods of three minutes each. Since the camera focuses on the player you are controlling, it can be maddening trying to find the puck even with the on-screen prompts. Trying to defend your net when the camera is focused on you is even more frustrating. Nonetheless, hockey is still an enjoyable sport that is simple enough to learn and tough enough to master.

The Mario brothers face off in a sensational showdown.

Dodgeball

Thankfully, Ben Stiller is nowhere to be found in this version. That man is somehow considered funny. I don't get it either. Regardless, dodgeball is the fastest sport in Mario Sports Mix. It takes but five minutes to complete a match if you're really smokin'. You throw by waggling the Wii remote, catch the ball by pressing A and B at the same time, fake out a player by holding the d-pad while waggling, and shake the Wii remote without the ball to dive out of harm's way or to catch a ball. You see, if you're hit, and the ball is caught by you or one of your teammates, you don't lose any health. Every player has a set amount of health. When they get hit so many times, their health dwindles to zero, and they are eliminated. They then get placed on the side of the court. If they hit a player with a thrown shot, they get to come back in, be it with little health remaining. Each team has a Yoshi which stands on the opposing team's sideline. In some cases, one could say dodgeball can be up to a four-on-four affair thanks to Yoshi. Yoshi can be passed to, so the opposing side must quickly turn around or else be smacked in the back by a dodgeball. Overall, dodgeball is a fun sport that much like volleyball is a best-of-three set game.

3-on-3 in dodgeball is just as hectic as it sounds.

When a player's gauge is at maximum, by pressing A and B together you can perform a devastating special move. Some trick the player into thinking the puck or ball is going one way but ends up going the other, while others are simply stronger versions of regular shots. Peach shoots out five hearts that daze anyone who gets smacked by one as she fires as hot whereas Mario blasts a fiery shot which usually not even the strongest of characters can block. These special moves are best saved for clutch moments. They can easily turn a game around when defeat seems like the utmost possibility.

Yoshi gears up for his super special move!

As stated, local multiplayer is a definite option in Mario Sports Mix, and that's a blast. However, there's also Nintendo Wi-Fi play as well. You can play random matches where you select a team and an arena to face off in. If both players choose different arenas, then it's chosen randomly. A win boosts something called a Nintendo WFC Skill level. Quitting matches early lowers it severely, so it's better to rough it out and lose than quit prematurely. You can also play with friends, of course, via those darned friend codes Nintendo is so crazy about. Sure, it isn't as big of a hassle as I state, but it is annoying a bit all the same. Online is virtually as smooth as butter with little to no noticeable lag. So if you lack nearby friends, you can always happily and successfully play them from across the country or even the world.

Everything about Mario Sports Mix oozes with a beautiful presentation. While the character models aren't Super Mario Galaxy quality, they are indeed a step-up from the Gamecube which is sad to say after four years and we've finally reached this point. Stages are littered with Mii faces (you can also choose to play as any of your Miis by the way), characters, and sensational set pieces to make things interesting. This is a good-looking game without a doubt. Masayoshi Soken and friend return from the astounding Mario Hoops 3-on-3 soundtrack, and come out shining with this brand-new score for Mario Sports Mix. There's a myriad of memorable melodies that your toes will be tapping to.

Overall, most of the sports in Mario Sports Mix have just enough depth from growing quickly stale. As aforementioned, they're mostly easy to learn and tough to master. Collecting all the characters and arenas in every sport is something that will take quite a while to do, and with the option to check your stats for each sport, stat-lovers will go crazy for this game. The online works really well, the presentation is near-perfect, and Final Fantasy fans will get a kick out of the game's final boss. Yep, you read right. A Mario sports game has a final boss in it. Along with the various themed mini-game (one for each individual sport) like checking opponents off the arena in the hockey-themed mini-game, for starters, there's plenty of content to enjoy in Mario Sports Mix. Yes, grinding for unlockables in each sport is an unnecessary pain, but if you can persevere, there's something for everyone in this marvelous medley of sports.

[SuperPhillip Says: 8.25/10]

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Games I Liked, Others Didn't - Round Three

What a simplistic title for this series of articles, no? "Games I Liked, Others Didn't" was the best I could come up with. Seriously? Regardless, same principle goes for these next games. They were mostly panned by critics and/or the gaming community, but I happened to enjoy them. Sounds simple enough.

Metroid: Other M (Wii)


Whether you dig the storyline or not, I do not care. Whine all you want-- you're gamers, that's what you're so good at doing. I really enjoyed Samus Aran's latest adventure despite the anime-like story. The cinematics were something extraordinary-- something you wouldn't usually see from Nintendo. Having Adam allow weapons and abilities to be used was so much better than Samus magically and coincidentally losing her abilities somehow for the fiftieth time. The level design was not as good as something as up to the caliber of a Super Metroid, but it was competent all to its own. Finding secret weapon and energy tanks was still as enjoyable as ever even if you constantly saw a different side of Samus than we're used to seeing. Plus using the d-pad to control Samus wasn't a problem at all, nor was switching views by holding up the Wii remote. All-in-all, a solid game like my review states.

Mario Sports Mix (Wii)


Talk about negativity. The latest Mario sports title was developed by Square-Enix who worked on the mediocre DS game, Mario Hoops 3-on-3. In my eyes, they've redeemed themselves with this title. Each sport is simple enough to learn but tough to master, and though the early cups are mind-blowing-ly easy, it doesn't stop you from having a good time. Multi-player is where this game really shines whether online or offline, participating in cups cooperatively with friends/relatives or duking it out two-on-two or three-on-three in heated competition. Expect a review of Mario Sports Mix sometime tomorrow evening.

White Knight Chronicles: International Edition (PS3)


Take sword, dagger, or battle axe in hand as you play this MMORPG-like JRPG. Whether you play the offline story that hangs up on a cliffhanger or partake in online play, there's something for everybody in the world of White Knight Chronicles from Level 5. There's even HD towns, something Square-Enix (the cowards) stated would be impossible to produce! Take out foes in real-time combat similar to Final Fantasy XII. You have only a set amount of moves you can make before your action gauge fills back up, so use them wisely! From the breathtaking visuals to the ability to play online with friends, there's something for everyone (well, except trophy whores) in White Knight Chronicles: International Edition.

Shadow the Hedgehog (PS2, GCN, XBX)


Shadow the Hedgehog was too edgy for its own good. There was no reason for the dark tone or the need to curse. Oh, wow, he said "damn"! Regardless of the source material, the game allowed the titular character to drive vehicles, shoot guns, and otherwise avoid using that dreaded homing attack, something that doesn't really work well in 3D. The levels were adequately-designed with hidden passages, multiple pathways, and secret bonuses. Each playthrough of Shadow was six stages long. The way you progressed depended upon your decisions in the game's levels. Help Eggman? Then you'll follow his level path. Help Sonic? You guessed it. An above-average title with an excellent rock soundtrack, Shadow the Hedgehog is by no means an awful game.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash Up (Wii, PS2)


This budget-priced title featured the more-recent cartoon version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The difference between the Wii and PS2 versions was that one had online play, and one did not (the PS2 version). The game gives no secrets about its point of inspiration as the subtitle says it all-- Smash Up-- as in Super Smash Bros. The combat, however, does feature lifebars instead of percentages like SSB. The cast of characters, though, leaves a lot to be expected. During development, the developers hinted heavily that characters from the 1980s TMNT cartoon would be in the game such as Bebop and Rocksteady. Instead, what we received were characters all from the 2000 TV series. The only remnant of the old TMNT show is a themed Technodrome stage.

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My writing thirst has been quenched, so it's time for your turn. What games does most of the world dislike but you happen to enjoy? Don't be shy now, let me know in the comments section!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

LittleBigPlanet 2 (PS3) Review

It's about time we kick things up a notch as the great Emerill Lagasse would say. BAM! That's another one. Regardless, it's time for a big game to start off the month of February, and we're doing so in style with LittleBigPlanet 2 for the PlayStation 3. The original title won the Best Game of 2008 award at the SPC Best of 2008 Awards (sponsored by Taco Bell and Mountain Dew). Could we see a repeat of 2008 with the sequel? Bah. It's too soon for GotY talk anyway!

RE: All Happy Gadders!!!
All screenshots by SuperPhillip


In 2008, Media Molecule took the entire build-a-game concept and revolutionized it with easy-to-learn, tough-to-master creation tools, simple Sackboys and Sackgirls to use as avatars, and levels built to teach players proper level design. It was then that only the most hardcore and ingenuity-filled players could create something outside of the platform genre. In LittleBigPlanet 2, Media Molecule has made it easier to create games from other genres such as the shoot-em-up, third-person action game, and even over-the-head Zelda clones. Are these new tools worth the price of admission to LittleBigPlanet's new galaxy, or are you better off sticking with the original game?

If you possess data from the previous LittleBigPlanet, you can immediately jump in and take all of your downloadable content, levels, costumes, prize bubbles, etc. into LittleBigPlanet 2. Even your pod, the in-game hub in where you access all of the game's content, will be designed the way you had it in the original game. The process takes less than a few minutes to do, and it's a great way to get re-accustomed to life in LittleBigPlanet.

Your pod is yours to design, so design away!

Now more aspiring level creators will want to dive immediately into the new create mode where new options abound such as the ability to program Sackbots. These bots can be customized to your every whim, and its these Sackbots that allow you to make more interesting games. The new movie camera gives your levels a more cinematic feel to them if you so desire. Everything from the first LittleBigPlanet is already available to you to access. By exploring the dozens upon dozens of tutorials, you can access even more content to tinker around with. The problem though arises with tutorials as they try to be more entertaining than actually helpful. That's fine and dandy with Stephen Fry narrating-- you'd probably expect dry humor, but when it's at the cost of properly describing what a certain part does, you're doing something wrong. I had to go to various message boards asking questions that the in-game tutorials should have already covered but didn't.

Creating levels is fun, but creating a good, capable level is a challenge. There's thousands of materials to build from-- from soft, grab-able materials to iron, metal, steel, glass, cardboard, and wood. By pressing the square button, Sackthing's pop-it opens up. This is where all the maestro's tools are located from the different types of bolts to stick platforms to walls to rods, elastic strings, and pistons to hold up and/or move walkways. You can alter materials with a click of a button, making previously walkable platforms turned into deadly gas, shocking electrified platforms, or walkways on fire. There's also a whole variety of checkpoints to select from including regular four-tries-and-it's-game-over to double checkpoints to infinite checkpoints where you have an unlimited amount of continues in case you continuously fail. Modifiers include a way to change the water level in a given world, lighting, special effects, fog, etc. You can add a multitude of music, even create your own using the game's synthesizer tool this time around.

As they say, birds of a feather...

Once your level is to tiptop shape and standards, you can publish it. Players can give it a thumbs up or thumbs down after playing it, write reviews, take photos, and otherwise share their thoughts about your newest creation. My concern with this process is that with so many levels being and already published (it's in the millions easily), there's little chance for your own levels to be viewed by the gaming public. What's the point in creating an intricate level with no way to promote it? That's one of my littlebig problems with this game. It was already a difficult process in the original LittleBigPlanet, and now it's even larger in the sequel.

Of course, creating levels is but a part of the LittleBigPlanet 2 experience. The real fun for those without a creative bone in their body is the story mode. The evil Negativatron is consuming entire portions of Craftworld, and it's up to your personally-made Sackthing to join the resisting squad, the Alliance, prove your mettle, and shoo away the Negativatron in one of many worlds. In the previous LittleBigPlanet, all dialogue was relegated to text boxes. Not so this time. In fact, there's entire levels dedicated to pure cinematic scenes featuring full, well-done voice acting.

Behold-- the Negativatron!

The levels pre-made by Media Molecule show off their greatest creators' work in the in-game level creator. Every level, every bit, every nut, every bolt in the story mode can be remade in the level creator. Quite impressive, no? When you consider multi-tier boss battles, shmup levels, creative mini-games, and other non-platform-eccentric displays of creation, it's very astounding that the tools of LittleBigPlanet 2 are so deep and complex. You start out as a cadet for the Alliance, trying to impress Larry Da Vinci, the leader of the Alliance, through a multitude of levels. Once you bash his boss creation, you are officially a member of the Alliance.

Play through the first series of levels
to prove your mettle to join the Alliance.

The story mode of LittleBigPlanet 2 does a great job of introducing new tools and gameplay mechanics throughout its duration. With great tools come great responsibility, or something like that. There's loads of new tools in Sackboy's (or Sackgirl's) repertoire including the paintinator (from the MGS4 level pack DLC from the original LBP) which fires paintballs at targets to destroy them, the grappling hook, the grabinator which allows your Sackperson to chuck light objects at enemies or throw them to use as platforms to cross an electrified floor, for instance. There's also the creatinator which shoots out delicious cupcakes that weigh down platforms for you, topple over ledges, and help you through levels. Finally, there's a hat that shoots out water to douse fiery platforms into safe havens for your Sackperson to walk on. All-in-all, these new tools are mostly excellent, and there isn't a stinker in the bunch. Using these in your own created levels expands the limits of what you can and can't do in LittleBigPlanet's creator mode.

The boss battles are very satisfying with one having you being chased by a giant chicken, one which is a multi-tier battle where you must toss projectiles into the eye of the boss using the grabinator tool. Then there's the multi-stage final boss which uses tricks never-before-seen in a LittleBigPlanet game. I don't even want to spoil it for you.

This first boss uses electrified yo-yos to take you down.

Going back to your customizable Sackperson, there's plenty of prize bubbles hidden in the various game levels that Media Molecule made. In fact, there's probably near one thousand individual prizes to collect. These house stickers, decorations, contraptions to use in your own levels, and costume pieces for your Sackperson to wear. After all, your Sackperson is your in-game avatar to show off and kick Negativatron butt in. There's millions of possible combinations to select from-from Sackperson color to hair to makeup to accessories to torso outfit to pants to headgear to gloves to footwear-- there's a lot to consider here. You can also earn prizes for clearing a level without dying, collecting all prize bubbles in a given level, or simply by completing a level. Mini-games now offer prize bubbles, too. The better your score, the more prizes you accumulate.

Meet SackerPhillip!

Speaking of prizes, there's certain areas of the story mode that are only available to two or more players. Up to four players can dive in together and play the story mode's levels. As long as there's a host (the person who selects the levels whether they be from the actual story or from the hustling and bustling community), there's a medium through each of the game's intricacies. One cooperative puzzles demands teamwork as you pull levers, shifting the direction of a wave of electricity to open a door housing a quartet of prize bubbles. However, with a wireless connection, things can get sporadic. You can get kicked from the game via your connection, you can constantly see loading screens, or you can just not be able to join any games at all. Media Molecule is working on this as I type.

Join up with friends (if they allow you to).

Meanwhile, the mini-games show off gameplay that LittleBigPlanet just couldn't provide such as a mirror puzzle where you control two Sackthings with the goal of getting them onto the green space at the same time. Of course, platforms and perils stand in your way, and timing is everything. There's races where you grapple hook your way through electrified currents, spinning grab-able wheels, and lightning-conductive enemies or swim through a labyrinth of puzzles to reach the opposite side of the screen in as fast a time possible. There's even a third-person shooter where you use the left stick to move around and the right stick to aim and shoot in a circular arena where enemies come from all directions. Case in point, there's lots to see and do in LittleBigPlanet 2, more so than the previous installment.

Things get tense in a hurry when
you're bombarded with enemy fire.


Presentation-wise, LittleBigPlanet 2 updates your levels from the original game. You can clearly see a difference. Fire is much more visually striking, gas has more particle effects to it, and electrified floors and walls are all the more... ahem... electrifying. The new backgrounds feature impressive visuals, and with all the action that goes on, there's nary a case of slowdown to speak of (except online). The soundtrack is appropriate, and gives players a wide assortment of tracks from trance to disco to classical to opera. The story mode's voice acting is quite good and adds a new element to the otherwise bare bones storytelling.

But still there's more to mention about LittleBigPlanet 2 even in this conclusion. You can take pictures, and share them with friends, build racing levels, shmup levels, adventure game levels-- heck, any type of level you want with the overwhelming amount of creation options. Perhaps there's TOO much in the way of tools to make games. The casual LBP player will love going through the story mode multiple times whereas the more hardcore of hardcore will enjoy making and sharing their prized level and object creations. To make it clear, there's something for everyone in LittleBigPlanet 2 whether you're young or old, part-time gamer or full-time gamer, Sackboy or Sackgirl.

[SuperPhillip Says: 9.5/10]

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