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LittleBigPlanet Vita: Handheld game breaks boundaries

A raft of new features make this the most compelling LBP yet

This article originally appeared in PSM3 magazine.

This isn't the first time that Sackboy's adventures have gone handheld, but while 2009's PSP incarnation was largely great, this forthcoming Vita offering is being pitched as the 'definitive version' of the game.

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Big words, especially as development duties have been shifted to Tarsier Studios, whose previous contribution to LBP was creating costumes for the PS3 games. However, Media Molocule are keen to stress they're still overseeing things from the shadows, while Tarsier - in an interesting move - have been busy recruiting prominent members of the LBP creator community to work on level design.

Like the PSP version, the adventure has a carnival atmosphere as Sackboy teams up with an eccentric ringmaster to tackle a new foe - the Puppeteer. Full advantage will be taken of the Vita's inputs, encouraging players to tilt, touch, pinch, push, pull, drag and flick their hessian hero back and forth through levels. In addition to four-player online competitive and co-op modes, the touchscreen can now be used by two players in competitive matches, as well as 'Pass'n'Play' support for turn-based games.

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In the Create suite, all existing tools from LBP2 will be available, as well as extra Vita functionality such as drawing objects directly onto the touchscreen and using the built-in cameras to capture stickers and textures. However, perhaps the biggest addition is the Memorizer function, which − for the first time − allows saving in user-created levels. That side of it promises to be huge: creators will now have the tools to make huge standalone adventures featuring characters that develop over time, and with the high quality of content the dedicated LBP community has become renowned for, it essentially means an endless stream of new gaming experiences: for free.

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In addition, a Cross-Play patch is heading to LBP2 on PS3 that will allow players to control Sackboy using their Vita. Far from being a glorified Remote Play feature, players will be able to activate new power-ups using the touchscreen, and portals will transport Sackboy between areas on the television and Vita screens to give things an extra dimensional feel. Expect new story DLC taking advantage of these cross-platform features to be released some time later in the year.

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