Cutest. Game. Ever.

Peep Your Yuletide Games


Sony, $59.99

Who would have guessed that the season's most groundbreaking and absurdly playable game would be an update of the Super Mario Bros. two-dimensional, left-to-right scrolling model from Nintendo's halcyon days? This time, instead of a plumber, you're a Hacky Sack with arms and legs.

More than just earning an "E for Everyone" rating, LittleBigPlanet's simple controls and user-friendly interfaces allow young kids and uninitiated adults alike quickly to grasp the basics. Before you know it, you're running from a jilted skeleton bride's skull-dozer and delivering highly volatile explosives through craggy tunnels like a pro with the help of a jet pack. From the catchy score to the laughably deadpan narrator, LittleBigPlanet is all smiles. Completing levels earns you more ways to customize your gaming experience with clothes for your sack person and stickers to put anywhere you like. The look and feel of the game are jaw-dropping (which is why you won't find this on the less-powerful Wii); the worlds appear crafted together, with every grassy hill complete with seam stitching and every star hung from the sky with twine. The surfaces are so tactile you want to touch them, and when sack people do so, the uncanny physics make them move and react like they should.

LittleBigPlanet's level creator sets it above the rest with its intuitive controls and wildly varied palette of tools at your disposal. Before long (and after a fair number of tutorials), you'll be posting your creations online for others to play. That way, even when you finish the game's story mode, you can download the products of other players' creativity from the PlayStation Network. LBP is exclusive to the prohibitively expensive PlayStation3, which will likely scare some cash-strapped holiday shoppers away. Pity, because the graphics and online functions taking Mario into the future offer as much playtime as your imagination can handle.

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LittleBigPlanet, Little Big Planet

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