Playing LittleBigPlanet On The PSP Go

LittleBigPlanet for the PSP packs all of the character and creation of the original into a more portable format, but the PSP Go's button layout presented a small stumbling block.

During a tour of Sony's booth at E3 2009 yesterday I got a chance to poke around in LittleBigPlanet on the PSP Go, and while the overall experience was every bit what you'd expect from a portable version of the game, my choice to play through on the new PSP Go proved to be more of an obstacle than the delight I was hoping for.

Senior designer Gareth Hughes waited patiently while I got myself acclimated to the new handheld, enjoying the weight in my hand while questioning Sony's choice to lock the systems open so we couldn't try the sliding mechanism, one of the system's biggest features. After a brief bout of new toy giddiness, I launched into the game.

There were two levels available to play in the E3 demo; a challenge map and a normal one. Tight for time, I tried out the normal level, and it was indeed LittleBigPlanet. The physics are similar to the PlayStation 3 title, and sackboy looses none of his charm with his new, smaller size.

As I stumbled through the level, Gareth explained that the PSP version of LittleBigPlanet would have its own community, echoing the PlayStation 3 version without actually integrating with it. They are looking into finding a way to get levels from the PS3 to work on the PSP, but he didn't seem too confident that that would happen. It's a pity, but it looks like PS3 level creators will just have to Play Create Share all over again.

I at first thought that the pop-up menu randomly appearing as I played was a glitch, or a symptom of my being distracted while talking, but I soon realized that the smaller PSP Go button layout was causing the problem. Unless I concentrated on avoiding it, nearly every time I hit the X button to jump, I was also hitting the Square button to open the menu. Even actively concentrating on avoiding it I managed to launch the pop-up maybe 1 out of 10 times. It was amazingly frustrating and I wound up stepping away from the demo level before finishing because of it.

Gareth helpfully suggested that perhaps we'll need to retrain ourselves a little for the new device, but that doesn't seem right, does it? Isn't intuitive control a hallmark of good gadget design?

I still plan on picking up the handheld when it launches this October...I suppose I have no choice, considering my job. I just hope the retraining doesn't take too long.