Rory Galvin reflects on a wonderful, floaty time in gaming
LittleBigPlanet 2 (or LBP2) is a wonderful, whimsical, wholesome (and other words that begin with W) game. Media Molecule’s PlayStation exclusive first began in 2009 with the first entry - a strong effort that stood out at the time, but this sequel elevated the series to a standard that I believe hasn’t been reached since.
To keep it simple, LittleBigPlanet 2 is a 2D platforming game, where you control your Sackboy or Sackgirl through an endless supply of levels made by other players across the world. The controls aren’t perfect: there’s a strange weight to your character, almost as if under that burlap skin you’re full of potatoes - but you jump much higher than you’d assume. Once you get a hang of the movement, it sets a solid foundation for all the other possible gameplay elements to follow. Plus, Stephen Fry narrates everything, and teaches you how to play - it's as fantastic as you think.
The best thing about LBP2 was the online aspect. The game essentially allowed you to create whatever kind of level, song, machine - whatever. And if you were like me and didn't have the time nor talent, there were legitimately millions of amazing levels for you to play made by others. I can't count the number of times I had friends over asking to play levels like Angry Whale Encounter or Bora Bora Island - even going through the handmade campaign was a treat. The ever updating list of MM Picks (by the developers Media Molecule) gave a seal of approval to the best creators - giving their levels way more recognition, as well as an exclusive crown you couldn’t get anywhere else. People pushed the limits too. I played first person shooters, turn-based RPGs and more; any genre you could think of was probably attempted in a game that was primarily meant to be a platformer. Sure, it could be a bit wonky, but it was always fun. The content was never ending, and because of that I played it for years after school and throughout many summers. A harsh realisation though, is that once the servers get shut off, everything made will be gone forever - and technically, it has already happened.
LittleBigPlanet 3 is the last game with functioning servers, essentially acting as the last place to access any content from LBP2. During most of 2021, hackers impacted the security of every entry in the series - and the developers made the choice to focus their efforts on fixing the servers for the most recent game, while leaving the rest closed permanently. This could happen again, and if it does, that’s over ten million community made levels lost to the ether.
I would love to see a proper new entry in the LittleBigPlanet series, but even if that dream is never realised, I will always have the amazing memories of playing LBP2. Even in its current state, it’s worth checking out for the strength of its campaign alone, and to see some of those amazing community levels - LBP3 is there, in an albeit more buggy, and less polished state.