PSP Preview

PSP Go, LittleBigPlanet PSP

It's not a mobile phone

Just keep telling yourself it isn't a mobile phone and everything will be fine. The new PSP Go handheld is certainly compact - some critics having already labeled the new look gizmo flimsy - although we're rather pleased with the teeny-weeny form factor, and the lightweight construction.

Alongside this streamlined, sliding screen design we're also rather taken with the new controls lay-out, although once again some may find it a little fiddly, a little too 'mobile', versus the chunky, expensive feel of the original model PSP (and indeed its Slim and Lite sequel).

What can't be argued with is the PSP Go's emphasis on digital downloads, and it is in this area that Sony could find themselves ahead of the curve - going face-to-face with the fledgling iPhone gaming format. The console is out in the autumn, costing 249 USD (225 GBP in the UK), and with the promise of a free copy of Gran Turismo for those registering their device by October 10th, we actually think the machine could pull in more crowds than some might predict.

The UMD drive is of course gone, and the machine is noticeably 'skinnier' as a result of this omission, Sony instead offering up a healthy 16Gb of Flash memory on which to store games and other media. At GamesCom, Sony have also confirmed that 'mini' titles are on the way for the handheld, these ultra-cheap digital treats weighing in at less that 100Mb a pop.

Couple the sliding screen design, and the machine's mobile like appearance, with the Marvel comic-touting media reader, and the PSP Go could just confound the critics - although the price is still a definite area for debate. We're also holding out for somewhat longer battery life, given the lack of a UMD drive, and the less prepossessing screen.

Of course, the proof of this particular pudding is in the eating, and I'm pleased to say I've also enjoyed playing LittleBigPlanet PSP on the the handheld this morning. Sackboy's controls have been sharpened in the transition to the 'Go', movement between the '3D planes' of Media Molecule's colourful world seemingly somewhat easier on the big-daddy PS3 version.

Visually, LBP must be one of the best looking PSP games ever - the developers having done a quite astonishing job not only of recreating the title's like child-like wonder on hardware comparable with the PS2, but more pointedly of translating the original title's superb physics over in indistinguishable fashion.

Racing through the imaginative lands of LittleBigPlanet is as much of a joy as it ever was, and while our famous hero may be very small, the touchy-feely playground is the real star - and this landscape is as alluring as ever.

Having dabbled with the game for a little while, I'm still not sure whether the level creation process will work well on the PSP's small screen, but the idea that you'll be able to access the LBP communities vast roster of homemade creations is a mouth-watering prospect - especially given the PSP Go's emphasis on digital downloads over WiFi.

Seven themed worlds will be offered for the game, delivering a total of thirty brand new stages for sackboy to explore, although it is unclear whether any co-op play will be offered via WiFi - potentially not. Still, the customisation options are once again through the roof, players getting all manner of stickers, decorations and materials to embellish their make-believe world with.

LittleBigPlanet PSP is shaping up nicely, then, and alongside the potentially free Gran Turismo download this game could be the perfect opener for PSP Go - assuming Sony can project the importance of digital delivery over the UMD format, and players are seduced by the iPhone-battling cellphone aesthetic.

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