Weekly Little Big Planet: the one and only

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After last week’s experience of finding the best level evar, I suppose a letdown was inevitable. But damn! Nuthin’ but mediocrity this week. That’s what I get for going back to “Cool Levels” in the hopes that lightning would strike a second time so soon. Next week it’s back to Mm Picks, those levels the folks at the developer, Media Molecule, have played and “deemed awesome.”

I don’t particularly recommend the level pictured above, Paradise Mountains. There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s fine. Out of the other choices of okayness that included an inscrutable exploding penguin game, a strange FPS test, a somewhat broken zombie-killing exercise, and an almost inspired dash through what looks like a ruled-paper world, it stood out as most playable. And photogenic. The best thing about it was that I achieved the top score. Every time I played it. I was always number one.

Now that I think about it, I achieved the top score every time I played every one of these levels. How about that? Pretty cool huh? But then, why should I care about scores? I’ve evolved way beyond that.

After the jump, if you’re scoring at home, or even if you’re alone

Actually, that’s not true. The evolution part, I mean. Not true. Not entirely. The scoring part is, however, true. I won every one of the levels I played this week. Last week too. I was the top score every time, by a mile. And when I say ‘by a mile’ I mean there was no other score within sight of me. I was all alone at the top. How did I get so good, so fast? Practice, my friend, plain and simple.

That…and jerks.

In the words of Media Molecule from sometime last month:

We have been made aware that a small number of players have found away to achieve impossibly high scores and have started filling up all the scoreboards with them.

As a result, we will be disabling the scoreboards shortly to prevent any further disruption. This will probably happen at the start of next week.

You will still be able to score, but the scores will not be uploaded to the servers! Once the issue is resolved, and the scoreboards return we will be rolling back scores to June 1st, when this first started happening. This means that all scores since then will be lost, both the good and the bad.

I’m really very sorry about that, but sadly this is what happens when a small handful of individuals decide to ruin things for the rest of us. Hopefully not too many of you achieved the greatest scores of your lives last week! I think you’ll all agree that this slight rollback is better than having cheated and broken scores staying in place!

In other words, this is why we can’t have nice things.

The question for me, and this is a question I had to ask myself as I watched my meaningless scores flash up time and again, is do scores really matter to me in a game like this? I made a joke about them not mattering above, saying I had evolved. There is a kernel of truth in this. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been introduced to a type of gaming I had never experienced before, cooperative board gaming, and for the time being how well I do individually has slipped in priority. At least as far as winning games is concerned. In life I still want to do well individually. I say that just in case you were wondering. And to keep my objectivist readers from totally freaking out.

Co-op is nothing new to those folks who are into board gaming, but it is a discovery to me, and one I’m growing to love. I find it is all I’m thinking about these days, when I think about playing games. There’s just something about sitting around a table with your friends, wading into the beautiful complexity of a well-built game with them, and trying to beat that game together that I can really groove on. I have a competitive side to my personality, to be sure, a side that doesn’t just come out when I’m driving my car, either. On the basketball court or playing a shooter against my friends I get as amped as the next guy. There’s just something about co-op, something about collaborating, that speaks to me in a deeper way.

This is probably why the recent scoreboard shutdown over at Little Big Planet hasn’t ruffled my feathers all that much. It has a little bit. The new meaninglessness of the scores on the community levels has definitely taken some of the edge off of playing them. Whereas previously I might have taken a few runs at a level that only mildly interested me to see how far up the leaderboard I could get, now I’m likely to only take a couple of whacks at that same level. And I’m noticing that I’m far more willing to bail on a level that isn’t working for me than I was before. This is mildly disturbing, as if I’ve become a person who doesn’t try when others aren’t looking, but I’m sure this will pass. All I need to do is fire up Pinball FX 2 and see who has passed my Secrets of the Deep score and I’ll be right back in it.

I can’t be bothered to do that right now, though, because right now all I can think about is the next time I’m going to play the Battlestar Galactica board game.

But that’s a story for another time.

Click here for the previous Weekly Little Big Planet