Review: LittleBigPlanet Karting (PS3)

To this robot author, the greatest thing about the LittleBigPlanet series is just how much customisation it offers. 

While you could argue that LittleBigPlanet could be played forever, one does tire of platforming after a while. The introduction of the racetrack is then not just a natural, but a much needed progression for the overload of cuteness that is Sackboy and his whimsical world. And this additional dimension of player to the Imagisphere only increases the franchise’s longevity.

LittleBigPlanet Karting gives Sackboy his own cardboard kart to race against the evil Hoard – extra-terrestrial visitors who have come to steal prizes from the world he so recently saved. Like the original game, you start out with a plain Sackboy and kart, and collect new bits and pieces to pimp your ride with as you whizz along the racetracks of various planets.

The family-friendly racing game is held together by the flimsy story-line we mentioned above, but has enough variety in its locales to keep you from getting bored. It comes in two difficulty modes – Normal and Casual. Apart from the typical race-to-first racetrack, you also get to duke it out with the Hoard in a battle arena.

Like any other racing game, LBP Karting comes with a variety of weaponry. Weaponators, as they are called in-game, are red, blue, or green. Red weaponators are homing missiles, while green weaponators shoot straight out in front or behind of your kart. Blue weaponators help you get ahead of the crowd by means of a speed boost; in the battle arena, the blue weaponator becomes an electric force field that sends an AOE (area-of-effect) attack out around you. Apart from the weaponators, your Sackchum also has LittleBigPlanet‘s titular grappling hook equipped.

The grapple hook adds only slight depth of play to the game, seeing as how it can be used only to get over gaping chasms. One of the nicer things about LBP Karting is that you can move your cart even while it’s in the air, though that can sometimes translate to you landing off track and exploding. While you don’t actually explode if you hit enemy Karts, you do crash if you drive headlong into an obstacle from the racecourse.

The various tracks from the myriad of worlds available for play have their multiplayer modes unlocked after you’ve run through the single player campaign and achieved at least third place. The difficulty of reaching the multiplayer mode makes me think that unlike other LBP games, the emphasis on LBP Karting is less of its co-op action than its community.

And this might actually be true, given the ease of level creation. For someone who has never contributed to the LBP community ever, creating a racetrack was simple. You’re plunged into the thick of narrated cinematic tutorials the moment you boot up the level creator, with the option of being walked through every aspect of making your very own racetrack. Laying down the first racetrack was as easy as taking a brush to a blank canvas… literally. My only gripe with the level creator was that it needs a more accessible undo button.

The social aspect of LBP Karting is also simple enough for newbies to get used to quickly. Upload and download of maps was a breeze, though I find that the pre-packaged content of LBP Karting is more than enough for a good, long playtime. This is something to take note of if you’re investing in the game more for your kids than for the LBP community. At its heart, LBP Karting is really a generic racer, but the endless customization options and the strength of its community help it become more than that.

The Good
  • So damn cute.
  • Handles well and progresses at a good pace.
  • Has all elements of LBP games with added depth of racing.
The Bad
  • Too much of a generic racer.
  • Could do with more interesting gameplay modes, such as time attack.


LittleBigPlanet Karting is a racing game developed by United Front Games and Media Molecule and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation 3. It retails for S$69.90.