Friday, February 10, 2012
LittleBigThings: Start Your Engines!
The above image, showing off Racing, one of the new styles of games you could make in LittleBigPlanet 2, might have been fore-telling something yet to come as LittleBigPlanet Karting is officially a thing, though details beyond that are scarce. Literally, that's about all we know about it, as in we're not even sure on a developer just yet, but we're promised details of these things "soon", whenever that is. This all follows some rumors that started towards the start of the week stating that LittleBigPlanet Karting was a thing and might even have some sort of Move integration, going so far as to having a Move Wheel peripheral mimicking that of the Wii Wheel used for Mario Kart. I honestly don't like the idea of that, nor do I really have an idea of just how that would work (the Move Wand has a more organic, thus harder to mold, shape and the whole ball thing too), but I honestly wouldn't be surprised by it at this point.
You might be wondering, just as everybody else, "Why LBP? Modnation Racers already exists!" In fact, Chance wondered this exact thing and it is a really, really valid wonder to have. I myself had it at first, but I had a little think about it, and I've got at least an idea of what could be the reason behind it all. Just bear with me here for a moment. The original Modnation Racers was made for PS3 as we all know, by a little studio called United Front Games who, as you might also know, has been a little busy lately. Modnation Racers was initially something that a lot of people were looking forward to...until they got to play the Beta. Gripes about controls instantly came out and even with some tweaking, the general opinion of the internet was a little unfavorable. I'm sure it didn't set the sales charts on fire, despite all you could really do with it unfortunately, and the end result is that I don't think it's been seen as a 'franchise to look out for', like some of the other things the PS3 has that have started on the PS3 itself.
Then you have the PSP version that did even worse, mostly by virtue of it being a PSP game, which certainly didn't help the brand along at all. That version and the up-coming Modnation Racers: Road Trip for the Vita were done by SCE San Diego rather than United Front Games, so it just sort of reeks of "We already made this, might as well try and get it to sell." despite never really getting a lot of chatter. Being that it's been a while since Modnation Racers came out, it's probably about time for a proper sequel to it, but the originators probably aren't too fussed at doing one and a sequel is likely a bit too much work for SCE San Diego who aren't really known for doing a whole lot aside from the criminally underrated Mark of Kri. So if you can't do a sequel of a not-so-hot game, but still want to have another new racing game that has a broad appeal, what do you do?
Take the concept that worked (The Race, Create, Share philosophy that UFG put out there to mirror LBP's own Play, Create, Share), add it to a franchise that worked (LittleBigPlanet) and hope for success. Everyone sort of looked at Modnation Racers as the "LittleBigPlanet" of kart-racing anyways, so why not make it official, yeah? Sackboy already has a fairly broad appeal, as far as audiences go which is almost money in the bank right off, and the natural linking with making, tinkering with your own courses, racer and kart only makes it seem like more of a perfect fit. Really, if it weren't for Road Trip coming out, Modnation Racers would probably be out of the general mindset already, so LittleBigPlanet Karting would be a little easier to accept. LBP Karting even has Modnation Racers as an example case to look at; take the good, leave the bad. As it stands, it just seems like the next step up if you sort of take apart all the ideas and look at them separately.
We'll see how it works out when the eventual reveal comes out, likely sooner rather than later. I expect to see some footage of it by E3 and hopefully whoever's developing it (I doubt it's going to be Media Molecule, but we'll see) will be able to work something out with MM for some type of integration. Figuring on the racers themselves being Sackboys and girls that you can customize, I'd hope we would be able to import our favorites from LBP 1 and 2 in to design karts around, rather than having to start from scratch - especially if they're planning on selling costumes for other Sony Franchises (as they did with Modnation and LBP both) to prevent having to double-dip for a Cole Sackboy racer. (Which yes, Cole can't drive, blah blah, let me dream, okay?) Here's hoping for at least a developer reveal in the coming week or so, since I'm pretty interested at face value.