The arrival of the delightful Sackboy and the customisable, fantastical world of LittleBigPlanet on the portable Vita is as inevitable as lambs popping out in spring - every bankable PlayStation franchise ends up here at some point.
This particular intellectual property is built upon innovation and experimentation, so it's no surprise that Tarsier Studios has chosen to test the Vita's limits in every conceivable way.
Using the front touchscreen to manipulate environments and execute menu commands, players can negotiate the story mode and bonus challenges, and feel reasonably accomplished, quite quickly.
Using the rear touch panel for context-specific manipulation, like pushing out a platform where a tap of the corresponding point on the front screen would shove it in, is a frustrating exercise that forces you to adjust your natural grip and interrupt the game's natural rhythm until you have it comfortably figured out. Once you do, you can deftly customise your world until it is indeed your oyster - you can even photograph the world around you and pop the images where you like.
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The bonus challenges take advantage of the Vita's gyroscope, and you tilt the console vertically to get stuck in. One of the early skill testers is a tower-building game with common roots in Tetris and Jenga; it's so addictive that it's perfectly possible to get sidetracked - or forget about the rest of the game entirely - and work on toppling your best score instead of toppling your own tower.
I jest. The Tetris-Jenga marriage is great fun, but only a hardcore block stacker could stay away from the main adventure. Stephen Fry's wonderful narration and generous hints guide Sackboy through a beautifully rendered, well-paced mission to set things right in a carnival world gone dreadfully wrong. Few modern platformers are designed with such a reasonable learning curve and repeat playability (though some of the Lego titles come close) and shutting off tantalising bonus areas to solo players provides all the reason you need to get social and link up with other players.
Angry Birds might be the common choice for gamers on the go today, and there are at least a dozen titles native to the various Nintendo portables that could stand up for all time, but Sackboy's new interactive tour de force has the potential to be the best portable game ever. LittleBigPlanet Vita plays with incredible depth. It looks stunning, it sounds superb, and it is beautifully social.
It's certainly the best thing to hit the Vita.
Platform: PlayStation Vita