Distant 12 years ago, the charming Little Big Planet gave me wonderful moments of cooperative gameplay with the girl with whom we were at the very beginning of our relationship. Since then, a lot of water has flowed under the bridge, the girl became a wife, two more parts of the platform came out, and three weeks later Sackboy will return to the screens in a new game – Sackboy: A Big Adventure.
Ahead of the upcoming release, I got to talk to Sumo Digital Creative Director Ned Waterhouse. We discussed the plot of the game, talked about Sackboy and the future of the platforming game.
Ned started with a little immersion in the events of the game: the home world of the sackboy, peaceful and calm, but the villain Vex kidnapped all the hero’s friends and made them cost villainous machines to turn this peaceful world into something nightmarish. Sackboy remains the only one who can save the world.
My first question was about why the title of the new game was not associated with past games in the series. This is a new story about Sackboy, but we’ve seen this character. Why has the title Sackboy: A Big Adventure not been associated with Little Big Planet? For example, Sackboy: A Little Big Adventure.
The game has the DNA of the series, but this is a new game and a new chapter in Sackboy’s story. We decided to focus on the gameplay and create the best platformer we can offer, including in a co-op playthrough. Therefore, we decided that the name should be somewhat separate.
Why did you decide to remove the creative element that is familiar to the series?
It was important for us to change the experience of the players, invest in management, perspective and locations. We wanted players to have a rich and varied experience. The focus on gameplay has allowed for the best experience for the players.
You said about changing perspectives. How did the transition from 2.5 to 3D come about?
Oh, that was the hardest part to develop. 3D provides more experience and opportunities for players, but it is difficult from a development point of view. We had to work hard. For example, the game has a level that is completely dedicated to research. There is a vertical level, and there are those in which the direction of Sackboy’s movement changes. Have you seen the gameplay where a big Yeti is rolling on you ?!
All this is aimed at the maximum variety of gameplay.
Aren’t you afraid of comparisons with Crash Bandicoot and other platformers? You even have a character in one video moving in a similar way.
Of course not, we are confident in ourselves. There are some similarities between all platformers, but we hid a lot of mechanics in the game, mixed them and hope that we will surprise the players.
Is Sackboy a revolution in the series? Or is it evolution?
Good question, but I won’t give a straight answer. This is a step in a completely different direction and a serious leap in development, but this game has the DNA of Little Big Planet, we have kept traditions and key features. It’s hard to say for sure.
What is the best way to start playing: solo or in co-op?
It makes no difference how you start. You can start alone and then connect with a friend and have a new experience. In this case, your progress in the co-op will be added to your experience, so you will not lose anything and will not go through the same section twice.
We have exclusive co-op content, both for two and for four, but the main thing is that you can switch between solo and co-op while saving progress.
Who is the game for? For kids, like in the rankings, or for 35-year-old gamers?
This is a game for everyone. For fans of platformers who love challenges. For those who are just starting to play. For Sackboy fans. And for children. Everyone will be able to find something for themselves in it. We have a level where you have one life and a difficult obstacle course. This is a very difficult level for 10 minutes, and I still haven’t passed it.
Another example. We have a system that will help you play with your child. For example, a skill player can share lives with a less experienced companion. And there is also a small helicopter that flies after the first player through a difficult section and helps to overcome it without unnecessary difficulties.
What about Sackboy himself? Who is he to you?
He’s a nice and amazing guy, such a small guy in the big world. You see him developing and becoming a hero. I put a lot of energy and emotion into ensuring that players can associate themselves with him.
I saw Deacon Sackboy in one of the publications. Such a nice guy from Days Gone. Will there be skins from other Sony games?
I can’t talk about it, I’m sorry.
Ah, secrets. Then let’s talk about the future. Are you planning to do a new trilogy that will start with Sackboy?
We are very excited to release the first game and are looking forward to the future. Anything is possible, but now we are focused on the release.
How long will it take to complete 100%?
Depends on the player. But I’m sure that even a skillful player will need about 20-30 hours. We have a lot of content, secrets, challenges. If you become a master of all solo levels, you will receive a unique skin. I’m looking forward to a screenshot of someone wearing this skin. I don’t have it (laughs), I’m not very good.
Okay. Thank you for your time. It was nice to chat and see you in the world of Sackboy.
During the conversation, Ned said several times that the studio wants to surprise players with mechanics and a variety of levels, a number of secrets and opportunities. We will find out whether it will work out or not very soon.
Release Sackboy: A Big Adventure is scheduled for 12 November. The game will be available on PS4 and PS5 with DualSense support and all its features.