Product: LittleBigPlanet 2 (LBP2) is a puzzle-platformer game for the Playstation 3. The game gives players the chance to create and share their own levels, stories, music videos, and more. LittleBigPlanet 2’s mantra—Play Create Share—has resulted in thousands of levels created by other players, a community of devoted fans, and tons of user generated content.
Glows: LBP2 is fun to play, gorgeous to look at, and offers kids a platform for creating bite-size games that actually work. The developers have made it easy for players to share their work with others. The community has responded by developing a wealth of resources to help new players get started. Check out this tutorial on how to create a zip line, for example.
Grows: The mechanics of the level editor, which integrates art, logic, and computer programming can be unwieldy and has a definite learning curve. Players may feel overwhelmed by all the options. We recommend playing through the game in STORY mode before tackling a custom level design. Each level of the game showcases the possibilities of the editor. Playing through the game is a sure-fire way of learning how things work while collecting design inspiration along the way.
Bottom Line: For families with a PS3, LittleBigPlanet 2 is an excellent platform for sparking a love of logic and problem solving. Players can create and publish games for their friends and others to play, and can get feedback on them as well. The game community is friendly, supportive, and stocked with player-created resources to help your child master any project they might dream up.
The first mode players encounter in the game is STORY mode, which represents the main side‐scrolling platform game. CREATE mode, which gives players access to level design and other content creation tools, is not available at the start of the game. Players must earn the right to participate by playing through at least part of STORY mode. The emphasis on playing first gives players a chance to learn basic game play mechanics, which they can draw on once they enter CREATE mode. The developers of the game created their levels with the very same tools players access in CREATE mode. Because of this, playing through the pre-made levels exposes players to novel uses of the game’s mechanics. Playing through STORY mode is a great way for kids to get ideas for future designs.
LBP2 is all about creativity. CREATE mode offers a toolkit of materials and bits of electronics best accessed through tinkering—kids can play around with the different materials and programmable tools to create almost anything they might imagine. Players of the game have created more than 10 million pieces of LBP-related content (see LittleBigMap) to date. In addition to tools for creating games and levels, players can create full-motion cut-scenes to accompany their level designs. For kids interested in animation and storytelling, this feature is amazing. Players can manipulate the camera for both cut-scenes and game play, and can even record their own sound effects for the level, too.
Once your child starts creating in LBP2 they will want to share what they’ve made with others. LBP2 makes sharing easy and safe. Players control who they share with and comments are well-monitored and typically supportive. We love online communities where kids have a chance to collaborate with and learn from more expert players. As I’ve written about elsewhere, getting better at something provides the perfect context for social interaction: your kid is not only motivated to learn but they have a ton of cool experts to talk to. LBP2 connects kids to many different kinds of creators, from those creating games to those composing music, crafting animations, or building complex logic machines, like this working calculator.
Getting the Most from the Game
LBP2 offers kids a rich story world populated with cleverly crafted gadgets and gizmos that they can learn to build with a little practice. To get the most from the game take advantage of player-created tutorials, FAQs and forums, and encourage creation and sharing. LBP is a friendly community, filled with social supports that come from fellow players. By building and sharing your child can develop an interest and further their expertise while also having loads of fun.
Image credits: Media Molecule