Sackboy: A Big Adventure (Backlog Review)

Howdy hidey ho!  It’s fine, we know Mario is the master of platforming.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t other competent platformers out there, but they often lack that magic and polish that Mario games accomplish so damned well.  Does Little Bit Planet’s move to capture Super Mario 3D World’s design cues work in Sackboy: A Big Adventure?  Stick around and find out.


GAMEPLAY

…it’s still a lot of fun to play…

And that’s definitely something you’ll notice pretty quickly: the game does, indeed, attempt to mirror that Super Mario 3D World magic.  From the camera angles to the focus on pure platforming right down to the co-op mode which can have up to four players, pretending there’s no core structural resemblance requires blindness.  Since I’m a maidenless chap, I was only able to drag one friend along for a few levels.  Unfortunately, while it captures the overall structure of its muse, it fails in the feel of its moveset.  There’s a decidedly slow and rather heavy feel to Sackboy, one that does not always play well with the levels and can cause you to feel clumsy and unresponsive.  I understand that this is the nature of how Sackboy handled because I played Little Big Planet, but don’t be surprised if you miss some jumps or grabs out of sheer error rather than lack of skill.  That doesn’t stop the one thing that particularly matters in this type of game though: it’s still a lot of fun to play and has its own type of charm.  Levels are just brimming with both silly design choices and oddly endearing, old-school platforming.  Additionally, for those of you that prefer a challenge, the game has that, too: some of the later levels and challenge levels are what put your skills to the test.  Despite the sluggish Sackboy errors you can’t help, you might be surprised at how fun it is to test yourself.  I once again emphasize that it’s not quite Mario fun, but it’s fun nonetheless.


CONTENT

…close enough that finding it on sale is a no-brainer.

On the way to top the not-Bowser, you’ll spend about 8-10 hours getting the credits to roll.  The good news is that they take their muse to town and have an entirely optional endgame area as well.  Add that to the bonus levels and challenge levels, and it’s got plenty of adventuring to do.  If you can shake off the weight of Sackboy’s movements, then you’re in for plenty of platforming… and a shocking amount of cosplay.  And of course, you’ve also got those co-op specific levels that require other players.  So while it’s not quite got itself a full price tag’s worth of content, it’s healthy and close enough that finding it on sale is a no-brainer.


PRESENTATION

I love it when art style and graphics technology combine.

As you might expect, this is a PS4 game that’s been ported and enhanced just a tiny bit for the PS5.  Even with that, it’s a pleasant combination of art styles.  We’re talking cardboard, fabrics, and whatever else you can imagine up.  Without feeling like it’s copying particularly any one thing, it combines it all in a way that takes advantage of the hardware to bring its vision to life.  I love it when art style and graphics technology combine.  And while it could have used ray tracing in its PS5 version, I never found myself complaining because there’s very minor flaws in the presentation.  That, and I don’t think I even detected a single bit of framerate drops, likely the benefit of this being a PS4 game at its core running on the PS5.  The world lore and story are token simplistic, though, and I do want to note some references require a core understanding of Little Big Planet.  Otherwise, there’s not much to shock you about the story: good guy go after bad guy seeking domination, but without a spiky shell.  It COULD use slightly higher budget voice actors, though, as some voice acting just felt a bit inexperienced.  Not that people shouldn’t be given a chance, but some lines are delivered a bit awkwardly.


CONCLUSION

…finding it on sale is a win for platformer lovers.

Okay, so it can’t quite answer to Mario.  That’s because it falters in the one thing that sets Mario games apart: the sheer feel and responsiveness of movement.  But even without that, this game manages to give Sackboy a real workout through fun levels and creative ideas that translate right into its presentational values.  It looks good, it runs well, it’s fun, and while it still comes along a bit short overall as a full-priced game, finding it on a sale is a win for platformer lovers.  Its typical bad guy story could have used better voice actors, though.  All-in-all, it’s still a polished experience, even if Sackboy has a long way to go to ever compete with the master of platformers.

I give Sackboy: A Big Adventure

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