Oh no! Some dastardly driving gang called the Hoard are racing about stealing everything they can. Luckily Sackboy’s here to drive the Gremlin-like beasties away by out-racing them and blasting them with missiles. But, as you’d expect from a series famous for letting players’ imagination run riot, LittleBigPlanet Karting isn’t the usual Mario Kart knock-off. Instead, its karting is backed with the creative adaptability of the contents of a Meccano warehouse.

LittleBigPlanet Karting review – first look

LittleBigPlanet Karting might be a departure for the series but the fuzzy felt and cardboard world translates perfectly. It still looks wonderfully distinctive and packs in plenty of opportunities for oddball car and character customisation. Where else could you drive a Bento Box while dressed up like you’re the love child of Dame Edna Everage and Marilyn Manson? Stephen Fry also returns to the narration but snuggly as his tones are, he is a tad overused here with everything you do accompanied by him wittering on and on and on. And on.

LittleBigPlanet Karting review – customisation and Stephen Fry

On the track LittleBigPlanet Karting proves itself to be a nifty little racer. The driving is spot on with some nice drifting moves, decent handling and the odd chance to swing around with a grappling hook. It’s not anything that other kart games haven’t done before but there’s nothing to fault with the way the driving feels. The power ups are a big disappointment, though. Not only do they lack originality, with most being plucked straight out of Mario Kart, they’re also so abundant and so powerful that the ensuing chaos makes luck more of a contributing factor to success than skill, and that can create serious frustration.

LittleBigPlanet Karting review – racing and power ups

Unlike Mario Kart, LittleBigPlanet Karting bases its stages around a story rather than a tournament, which might help to motivate long-term play but also sacrifices some of the immediate, pick-up-and-play appeal that you’d expect from a karting game. Thankfully the stages on offer are imaginative and fun to drive around on the whole. But it’s the potential for user-generated courses to keep the game fresh that has us most excited. It’s early days but there are already some great user-made tracks, including a Das Boot level complete with sinking sub, and if this game follows the pattern of previous LittleBigPlanets the best is yet to come. The results might not match the perfection of Mario Kart’s courses but Nintendo’s series can’t match this on variety.

LittleBigPlanet Karting review – trackmania

With the creative side of the game crucial to its long-term appeal, it’s just as well that LittleBigPlanet Karting’s editing tools are a joy to use. The leap from the 2D of the main series to this game’s 3D tracks hasn’t caused any problems, and it’s stunningly easy to create basic courses thanks to the paint roller tool that lets players draw tracks complete with twists, turns, bridges and underpasses in less than five minutes of first diving in. More complete and adventurous courses will of course take longer, but the creative side of LBP Karting as user-friendly and fun as you could possibly hope.

LittleBigPlanet Karting review – creating tracks

LittleBigPlanet Karting doesn’t just do races. On top of the pedal-to-the-metal core of the game there are several twists on the driving action. The best is Battle Mode, where eight players hurtle around grabbing weapons and zapping each other in a race against the clock to rack up the kills. It’s a mode in which the chaos that undermines the racing becomes a plus. That said, the game doesn’t quite produce as many laugh out loud moments as you’d expect from its Wacky Races-inspired antics, possibly because the weapons aren’t inventive enough. But we’re hopeful that some crazy player creations will sort that out.

LittleBigPlanet Karting review – Battle Mode

LittleBigPlanet Karting’s core idea of welding Mario Kart to the creative variety of Sackboy’s world is a great one, but the oversupply of underwhelming power ups often makes for frustrating racing, while the story mode and variety of levels also make this a game that’s harder to dip into than Mario Kart. There’s definitely the potential for those shortcomings to be outweighed by awesome user-generated content, but that depends on LBP Karting being popular enough that the gaming community’s great creative minds jump on-board, because without them this is only a decent game, and we don’t like saying that about anything with the LittleBigPlanet name.

You might also like

BlackBerry 10 launch event set for January 30th

UPDATE: Why Sky Go isn’t on Android Jelly Bean yet

Skype preview app hits Windows Phone 8

LittleBigPlanet Karting review – verdict

Stuff says... 

LittleBigPlanet Karting review

LittleBigPlanet Karting has got the look, the creativity and the racing but skids off course with its game-spoiling power-ups.