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23/05/2011 Artistic Novel Gamer Podcast
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LittleBigPlanet 2 PS3

LittleBigPlanet 2

Format:
PS3

Genre:
Platforming

Style:
Thirdperson
Singleplayer
Cooperative
Competitive
Augmented

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Sackboy's Progress: Two tiny pilgrims journey to the wilds of the In-The-Net find adventure, hardship, and wonder. A review of LittleBigPlanet2 in the form of a short story.

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When Sackboy and Sackgirl decided to set out on a new and great adventure, they already knew exactly the supplies they would need to take with them in order to survive.

The specialist equipment which most adventurers would think to take would be unnecessary; No compass, no protective clothing, no vehicle and -- most importantly, thought Sackgirl -- no weapons.   They were quite capable of conducting the journey wearing only the sack they were stitched in. In fact they planned to take only the most basic of maps. It was a map of the world, showing the relative paths between the places they knew they would surely visit on their journey.

Forget Ray Mears. The rules of survival in the experience of sack-people were the street rules of Blue Peter: A colouring pencil, pair of scissors and a roll of sticky-back plastic.

For, in this world which the great maker -- known as Mm, may his levels be praised -- had deigned to construct for the sack-people, everything which one saw bore witness to the simple elements that made up its construction. As Sackboy himself bore a skin of cloth, so too the trees bore leaves of fabric, the stars made of shiny metal foil and the fields made of rolling sponge.

Sackgirl looked out of the window and saw the bright sun beating down upon a field of straws. That's right: Straws. Clean white plastic ones with a red stripe down the side and a bendy neck.

She turned to Sackboy and said, "I don't think we'll get a better day for it." She opened wide a huge grin and declared, excitedly, "Let's start our adventure!"

Sackboy nodded expressively, saying nothing. He often spoke little, but through his animated hand and body gestures, Sackgirl knew what it was that he was feeling -- Sackboy was a truly expressive creature, even without words.

Even though it would be quite acceptable for them to travel without additional clothes, they decided it would be more fun to wear outfits, if only to set them apart from all the other sack-boys and girls out in the world. They chose outfits which they felt would not seem out of place. Sackboy opted for an afro wig, suit of armour, tribal skirt and high-heeled boots. Sackgirl chose to keep it more simple: a full astronaut suit with flashing light on top.

"Perfect?" Sackgirl asked. Sackboy nodded vigorously in agreement.

They each grabbed a generous empty sack in which to place the many exciting things they hoped they would find on their journey and stepped out of the front door.

Skipping off merrily down the path, they quickly wondered at nature's bounty around them. It was a literal bounty -- as they experienced new scenes and designs around them, they found that there were plenty of gifts to load into their knap-sacks and very quickly they realised they had a collection of stickers, objects and material almost far greater than they could organise. They had the kind of supplies now with which they could start to build their own worlds, just as many other sack-people had done before them.

Sackboy and Sackgirl realised that there was a choice ahead of them. They could either continue on the journey of discovery ahead or they could delve off into the wastelands of the In-The-Net and begin filling the space with creations of their own.

The In-The-Net is the great storage space in which our world -- and others like it -- exists. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together. All people who inhabit this world can be found somewhere in the In-The-Net and all the creations of the great maker, Mm (may his levels be praised) and the other sack-people reside here.

Sackboy was for adventure and seeing all that the world had to offer, while Sackgirl loved the joy of creation and making new stories for an audience to enjoy.

With a touch of sadness, Sackboy and Sackgirl realised that their journeys must now go in very different directions.

"Don't worry," Sackgirl said as Sackboy wailed emotionally at their parting, "we'll be together again soon and I'm sure you'll meet lovely companions on your journey."

Sackboy considered this and nodded, cheerily. He pointed at her sack full of bits and then at himself; Sackgirl knew that he was saying that one day he would travel to the adventures that Sackgirl would create and she smiled and kissed him goodbye.

As Sackboy waddled off into the sunset, Sackgirl drew out the Good Book; a hefty tome containing the truth of creation -- or, to describe it more accurately, a list of 52 tutorials which would impart to Sackgirl the wisdom needed to create her own worlds.

Fifty.

And then another two.

She sighed in anticipation of the task ahead and turned to chapter one.

*****

Sackboy was thoroughly enjoying his adventure. It seemed that with each new place he explored he opened up more new opportunities and came across new ideas and sights that he could not have imagined existed in this world of simple objects.

It was a wonder to him how the simple principles of physics and engineering could create a world so full of apparent life; even it that life was only truly automata. He knew, as did all good people, that in this world only sack-people had true life. The wonders that he saw were simple machines that performed their roles perfectly.

But, in spite of the wonders of his journey and the fun which he had, it was not long before he felt a pang of loneliness. He missed Sackgirl and longed for a companion with whom to share his adventure.

Sackboy prayed to the expanse of the In-The-Net for a travelling buddy and it was not long before a fellow Sack-boy named Trophywin93 dropped out of the sky. At first, Trophywin93 and Sackboy had a great laugh. They ran through fields of cotton and between them, they managed to access areas to which neither of them could have gained entry alone. Trophywin93 picked up Sackboy and threw him up to a high branch so that he could access the prizes stashed on the roof of a ramshackle cardboard building.

They even came across some lands that were clearly designed to pit them against each other in a battle of skills. There was a racetrack upon which each rode a mighty mechanical rat as a steed and they raced for the finish line, grabbing all of the prizes on the track which they could. They crashed across the chequered line, laughing hysterically.

"I made you my beach!" Trophywin93 told Sackboy, who gave a nervous laugh, not clear what this actually meant.

But Sackboy realised after a while that, to Trophywin93, everything was a competition. If there was a style into a field ahead of them, Trophywin93 would yell "last to the field is a big loser!" and run cackling ahead. Often there were complicated challenges and rather than helping Sackboy through, Trophywin93 seemed to take delight in watching Sackboy fall behind and fail. As they passed over a straight and narrow path between two pits of fire, Trophywin93 actually picked up Sackboy and made to throw him into the flames.

Sackboy cried aloud in despair. This was meant to be his journey; his adventure. He had invited Trophywin93 here, to be sure, but as a guest and travelling companion for fun; and yet he had taken over and was stopping Sackboy from enjoying his quest.

Sackboy prayed again to the expanse of the In-The-Net for respite from this invader and was answered. Sackboy found he had possession of a Giant Boot. Giant Boot kicked Trophywin93 away and out back into the In-The-Net from whence he came. Sackboy had peace once more.

*****

Sackgirl's own trials were equally challenging. She had come to the wastelands with an idea already formed of the adventure she wished to create.

Ever since she was a hacky-sack, Sackgirl had a dream of a spaceship of her own which she could travel in at will between the worlds. She'd had some experiences of these kinds of journey, but for her the thrill was to take command of a vehicle which she could fly anywhere and land anywhere before adventuring on foot; safe in the knowledge that she could return to her ship at any time and take to the skies once more. This was the dream she wanted to realise in the wasteland with her collection of cardboard, stones, fluff, pencil, scissors and sticky-back plastic.

She'd thought she'd make a game of it. Visitors to her special creation would first take command of a ship, then fly to an area with a trapped prisoner to rescue. The prisoner would get on board the ship, come with them to a landing area where they would be reunited with a lost love. Once they were reunited, the happy lovers would open a final door for the adventurer which would lead them to the exit.

Sackgirl thought it was a sound idea for a project. However, there were one or two things which got in the way of her perfect story.

Firstly, even though she had a bag full of bits and pieces, she often found that the object she was looking for was missing. She began to regret leaving Sackboy so soon. If she had stayed on the main journey for a bit longer before deciding to become a Creator herself, she would have picked up more objects and prizes along the way. "Never mind," she said to herself, "I shall make do with that which I have."

Secondly, her animated captive did not behave as she had been led to believe by the Good Book. She couldn't seem to get him to follow her instructions. Or rather, she gave her instructions clearly but the captive didn't seem to follow them as expected. She had seen these puppets behave in the manner she wanted, in worlds created by Mm (may his levels be praised) and by other Sackpeople. She realised that a great deal of time and experience would be needed to master the skills of a Creator.

In the end, with a bit of a departure from her original design, Sackgirl had created an adventure which worked functionally, if not creatively and aesthetically.

She opened the gates of her world to the sack-people in the rest of the In-The-Net and waited for her audience to arrive.

*****

When Sackboy and Sackgirl both inevitably returned home from their adventure, they shared with each other what each had experienced along the way.

Sackboy had, after his unhappy experience with Trophywin93, journeyed alone for a long time, shunning all forms of companionship and passing by the lands he saw which required teamwork to traverse.

Eventually, however he had met a fellow traveller, Xx_Prizelover_xX, by the side of the road who offered to join him on his journey. At first, Sackboy was reticent. He knew little about this new person, not even if they were a sack-boy or sack-girl, but in the end he decided to take a chance. Xx_Prizelover_xX had sought him out, not the other way around. Maybe this time things would be different.

Pleasantly, they were. Where there were competitions, they fought fiercely with each other, but where there were stories to find or challenges to overcome,  Xx_Prizelover_xX worked with Sackboy to overcome all adversity. In fact, they encountered one land where there was a prize hidden where only the combined effort of three adventurers could reach. His new companion called upon another friend who came and helped them through.

Sackboy reflected that it was not good to judge companions from the In-The-Net based on bad experiences of one or two. Like any part of life, you meet some good companions and some poor companions and the lesson to be learned is to shake off the bad experiences and allow the good companions to make themselves known. Sackboy grinned with his new-found wisdom.

Sackgirl told her tale sadly. She had waited and waited by her gate for adventurers to come and experience the tale she had woven. But, after a very long period of waiting, nobody had come. Bewildered, she looked out into the expanse of the In-The-Net and recognised the truth: shining in the night sky were a thousands of worlds created by thousands of other sack-people.

On the one hand, she marvelled at the expanse of creation and the joy of the many stories being released to the galaxy each hour; but, on the other hand, she wept at the realisation that the chances of a traveller finding her in her own land were many-thousands-to-one.

She was pleased with her creation itself and it had given her experience and ideas to create many more wonderful stories -- but at the same time she was a little put off not knowing how to attract other sack-people to share in her creation. She reflected that maybe she would have a better time if she simply returned to journey the many lands created by the Great Maker. Certainly she had seen few worlds created by other sack-people that even came close to the wondrous creativity of the original maker's own adventures.

Nevertheless, they both marvelled at the adventures they had both had and the enlightenment they had received and they vowed to delve into this world more and more and to voice to their thanks to Mm.

May his levels be praised.


Written by Chris Jarvis

You can support Chris by buying LittleBigPlanet 2



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Chris Jarvis writes the Novel Gamer column.

"I write stories to say what I think about games, for me it's the only way I can really communicate what I feel about them. Do you ever have a response to something that's hard to put into words? I find that sometimes I have something to express that can't be communicated by trying to explain how I feel, directly."


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