This new title by United Front is somewhat similar to a previous effort, the Mario Kart killer that was ModNation Racers. It's cute, clever and customisable, but more a kind of LittleBigPlanet 2.5 on wheels than a true racer.
LittleBigPlanet Karting draws a lot of its feelgood factor from our little woven chum and the pleasant, velvety charm of narrator Stephen Fry. There is a central plot involving some nasty little hoarders who have stolen the Craftverse's prizes and made off like a kind of fantastical bikie gang, and it's up to Sackboy to retrieve them.
If this is a karting game, then it's a sports game at heart and that means we need at least some structure. Instead of divisions or a general state of organisation, LittleBigPlanet Karting adheres to its roots and asks you to wander from planet to planet, unlocking races and sidequests and such. It's true to the series, but feels odd for racing.
The action has been stripped back from ModNation Racers, dispensing with that game's ability meter in favour of grab-and-go weaponators that can be plucked off the track and used once for offence or defence. That puts this game's strategy more in the old Mario Kart school of offence, and leaves you with a choice of using your weapon to clear the road or holding on to it to keep your tail covered while you rely on skill - or the famous grappling hook - to keep you in the race.
I accept this approach is more in keeping with the LittleBigPlanet style of play, but it's better suited to a platformer than a racer and Sackboy is disadvantaged because of it.
There is a frustrating lack of balance in the weaponators, with the homing missile better off going home than being in the racer's arsenal, and the fast-forward function simply moves Sackboy further up the track. It can take a while to reach any kind of understanding with the weapons, and once confidence is attained it's more fun to play the battle modes or find a friend than simply race against the machine.
LittleBigPlanet Karting aspires to be a racing game and a do-it-all engine, and it succeeds at the latter more than the former. The magic is still there, but as Sackboy continues on his path to lead mascot status, he risks becoming a stale old bag.
Thankfully, the tools exist for you to modify the experience until it at least resembles your ideal game.
Never before has the phrase "make your own fun" been quite so appropriate.
Platform: PlayStation 3
- TimeOutBy Troy Rawhiti-Forbes @TroyRF Email Troy