LittleBigPlanet Karting Review


Should Mario and co be looking in their rear view mirrors?

When you think of multiplayer arcade racers, the mind is immediately drawn to Mario Kart, or even Crash Team Racing. But now LittleBigPlanet’s Sackboys are starting their engines in a new adventure, LittleBigPlanet Karting (LBP Karting), bringing the fun and creativity from LittleBigPlanet 1 and 2 and slapping four wheels and a chassis on it and seeing what happens.

Game: LittleBigPlanet Karting
Developers: United Front Games & Media Molecule
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Reviewed on:


When you first delve into Craftworld, the world of LBP Karting, you are greeted by a familiar voice. The sultry tones of everyone’s favourite quiz host, and regular frequenter of ‘five celebrities you’d bring to your dinner evening’ lists across the nation, Stephen Fry. He gives you the necessary introductions and also tells you of a group of sack-things that are hoarding all of Craftword’s prizes and objects, imaginatively titled ‘The Hoard’.

So you dive in, get to grips with the driving basics, X is go, R1 is drift, all the standard stuff, then you’re all set to chase down The Hoard. You get some bots to help you out in your battle against The Hoard, and after a few races and you start to get used to the different weaponry, or ‘weaponators’ to give them their technical term, in the game and how each one can hamper your enemies.

If you’re reading this wondering when the excitement kicks in, that’s the problem. It never really does. Half the race is spent deciding whether to take the chequered flag or to crawl around collecting prizes, as the racetrack is littered with collectables to get creative with. Essentially, after half an hour, you’re finding yourself itching to get designing.

For those desperate to finish the story, there are plenty of races, battles and planets to keep you entertained, but these can quickly be rattled through. It’s up to you to go back and grab all the goodies you missed while speeding round to take first place.



LittleBigPlanet 1 and 2, for all their simplicity, had some truly stunning scenes and that was mainly down to the colours and more importantly the textures of the landscape. When something was made of sponge, it had the qualities and appearance of something that was sponge. Rubber looked like rubber. Wood looked like wood. This wasn’t left behind and is transferred beautifully into the petrol-fuelled world.

The majority of the landscapes aren’t that complicated, they’re built around simple tools, objects and mechanics, but I think that this is what gives it its beauty. The characters you meet tend to be a chunk of wood rocking back and forth, but it doesn’t put you off in the slightest. Not to mention your loveable simple Sackboy who really looks the part on his motor.

The only issue I have is the screen can become a bit of an explosive mess when weapons are fizzing overhead and dancing all around your rear bumper like a white van man on the M25. There was no real lag, but it did take a moment or two just to realise where you were, what way you were facing and where you needed to go.


Stephen Fry has an incredible voice and seems to suit the LBP world perfectly. In fact, it wouldn’t feel quite right if Mr Fry wasn’t on voiceover duty in future versions of the franchise. The in-game music is in keeping with the game’s feel with some standard happy-go-lucky instrumentals. Characters are once again kept voiceless with soft murmurings the only noises you’ll hear from them that adds to the charm.

Getting into detail though and the menu buttons and controls make the noises you’d expect them too, but in game, the sound effects of the weapons and the noise of the cars bumping around don’t sound quite right. It’s almost as if there’s a stock ‘hit’ sound be it grinding a fence or smashing headfirst in to a rock, you’ll always get the same abject thud of sadness.



You can’t help but feel the story mode racing leaves you feeling a little empty. Dull AI and an impending sense of dissatisfaction surrounded the majority of the races. Slip online however and the contrast couldn’t be more stark. Frantic action and the ability to have a swipe at your competitors, giving them an unhelpful nudge off the racetrack, make for an exhilarating ride.

However the weapons system, I’m afraid to say, is a bit of a balls up. It’s a challenge in its own right to distinguish what weapon you’re wielding, thanks to the poxy diagram you are given in the bottom right hand corner with each different weaponator. And when fired, most weapons tend to have a similar outcome. A rocket will inevitably fly forward and either hit someone or get blocked. Don’t get me started on blocking attacks. Way too easy. Just fire backwards when you’re told. Not the greatest system in the world. Also, the randomness of weapons’ strengths and capabilities can make for very disrupted race placings. By all means mix it up a bit, but driving skill seems to take a very back seat. Think more back row of a 60-seater coach.

One thing that does need a mention however is the track creation tool. Its simplicity is stunning. Just ‘drive’ a paintbrush dictating its angle of turning and height of track to add corners and hills. It’s a wonderfully modest tool that can have you feeling like Picasso carving the next Silverstone into the landscape. Add to that all the creation possibilities of LBP 1 and 2 and you’re in for a design treat with virtually limitless outcomes.


Due to the creative nature of LBP Karting, you’ll never get the same race twice. Popping online just days after its launch displayed an unbelievable amount of user generated content already on display, with more racetracks and battle areas than you could shake a stick at. On top of that, you can re-enter the story mode to win gold in every event and pick up all the prizes, LBP Karting promises to keep your attention for hours on end.



In all honesty, the online creative aspect of LBP Karting carries this game. This is where the real fun takes place. Designing your own courses and test-driving other user’s circuits from across the world knock the story mode out of the park. In fact, other than its way of unlocking collectibles for your creative juices to run riot, story mode needn’t be there.

I can’t help but feel slightly disappointed when looking at the game as a whole, and Mario, Luigi and Peach shouldn’t be taking their Karts down to the local scrapyard just yet, but LBP Karting offers so much online that it could keep me entertained for days trying to create the perfect track and speeding round others online. Iron out the actual driving should LBP Karting 2 come along, and the boys and girls in Mushroom Kingdom will be in real trouble.


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