If online buzz is any indication, LittleBigPlanet is going to be one of the most popular games of the year—and with good reason. A platform-style game with cute characters (SackPeople), a sweet soundtrack and gorgeous high-definition graphics is welcome in this era of first-person shooters. But this isn’t just a game for lightweights.
Tutorial levels narrated by Stephen Fry (soothing, droll and veddy, veddy British) teach basic gameplay and design; after that, the world is yours. Up to four players at a time can run, jump, swing and drive their way around colorful, dreamlike landscapes in an effort to solve puzzles and earn prizes—prizes that will later allow users to design their own creations. (You can also change your facial expression, dance and even backhand slap your fellow SackPeople, which can stave off boredom while waiting for straggling players to catch up on trickier challenges.) LBP is as good with four players as it is with one, which finally gives the Nintendo Wii some party-game competition.
What makes LBP so clever is that play doesn’t end when you’ve finished the 50 levels provided. The online community of users—many of whom have already built and shared new environments using an early release of the game—will supply endless opportunities to take your SackPeople out for a spin. Even if you have no interest in using the simple design tools yourself, the world’s aspiring game creators are eager, and you can backhand slap your way through their levels for a long time to come.