Weekly Little Big Planet: fault lines

, | Features

Choosing a featured community level this week was tough. Nothing bowled me over, but I did find a couple of cool things. My dilemma: do I feature the challenging level that is far from perfect but has good elements? Or do I go with the goofy level that has no game play, but which made me laugh? Gaming has me grumpy this week, so I should probably go with the latter. Something light and amusing.

I’m not going to do that, though. You shouldn’t be shortchanged because of my mood.

Act 1-3: Feeding Frenzy. The designer describes it as a survival/horror platformer. While I like the sound of that, I’m not sure I’d go so far as to label it as such. Your sackboy does have to survive a horrific situation in the icy caves of Mt. Kalan, but I wouldn’t put this up there with a Resident Evil game or Fatal Frame, which I haven’t played but once tried to watch a buddy play. I had to leave the room. There’s nothing in Feeding Frenzy that comes close to–hold up a second. My phone’s buzzing. Let me just…crap. Another stupid notification. I’m sorry. This’ll only take a second.

What’s that iPhone? My sunflowers are ready for harvest? Unbelievable. I told you not to bother me about that while I’m working. What? My crops will spoil if I don’t log in right now? Damn it! You know what? Shut up iPhone. I’m not talking to you.

After the jump, the fault lies with…

Me. The blame is mine. I just want to be clear on that point, since it’s slightly awkward to be posting complaints about one of my favorite devices when its genius creator passed away recently. But I have to be honest, we’re having a bit of a spat. And while I’ll never admit it to my iPhone, it’s my fault. Me and my stupid martyr complex. I’m the one who decided he should settle for the cheapest version when his wife decided getting iPhones was a good idea. I’m the one who figured he could get by on eight gigs, who thought shooting video in his phone was totally unnecessary, who didn’t care about camera quality. “I don’t even want an iPhone,” I said at the time. “But if you insist just get me the cheapest one. That’ll be fine.”

And it was. For almost two years. Until Ascension: Chronicle of the Godslayer came along.

God I love that game. The tabletop version I mean. I don’t have much experience with card games like it. I’ve played Lost Cities a fair amount, and it’s good. It’s a good game for traveling with friends. But when it comes down to it it’s really just a fancy game of Hearts. Or Spades. One of those card games I’m forced to play when visiting my in-laws at Christmas. That’s not intended to be a knock. Hearts is fine and Lost Cities is lovely. But it’s no Ascension. Ascension just hooked me to the point where I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

So when the buddy who introduced me to the game suggested I buy it for my iPhone after we played it one night, I plunked down my six bucks the moment I got home, plugged in my phone and let it sync. As my head hit the pillow I smiled at the thought of starting up my first game in the morning.

SMASH CUT TO: application did not sync because it is not compatible with this iPhone.

What? It’s an iPhone. The game is an iPhone app. What the fuck are you talking about? Try again.


Try again.


I finally go to the iTunes store and check the details. Requirements: compatible with iPhone 3GS. Well, duh. I have an iPhone 3G. So what’s the problem…oh. That’s the problem. I have an iPhone 3G. Not a 3GS. Why didn’t I check that? Because I just assumed. And we all know what happens when you assume. You end up deciding to spend hundreds of dollars on an upgrade so that your six dollar app purchase isn’t in vain.

Don’t say anything. I assure you I’ve run the numbers on this and the economics of my decision are sound. I’m getting the upgrade and I will play Ascension on my phone. Only thing is, it’ll be a few weeks until this happens. In the meantime I’ve been reminded that I can play games on my phone, something I’ve ignored for many months. So, what to play? Lemme see…

Drag. Drag. Game screen. Ouch. Not much there. Wait. I haven’t played those in a long time. We Rule and We City. Two games my friend Tom made me play back when he was reviewing them. Basically Farmville clones that I abandoned shortly after he was done writing them up. Meh. Why not? I haven’t touched those icons in half a year…what can it hurt?

“Who’s texting you?”


My wife laughs. “Farmville. Farmville.” She kind of sings it. “Quick! Go and check your corn!”

“It’s not corn,” I say, annoyed. She really has no idea what the hell she’s talking about. I mean, corn? As if. “It’s lavender.”

“Lavender. Oooh.”

I’m too close to leveling up my kingdom again to really be bothered by the fact that my wife is mocking me. So I’m harvesting lavender in the middle of our favorite television show. So what! I’m about to break Level 40! Suck on that!

Shit. I’m hooked on this stupid Farmville clone again. What’s more, in the time I’ve let the game lie fallow it has evolved and I don’t know quite how to handle its mutations. The game now features a bunch of quests or goals or something, and they all appear to be nested and time specific. Also, strangers are invading my kingdom. Back when I first played it We Rule would bug me to get my friends to play it, as all these dopey social games do. I tend to ignore such nagging and so I ended up with maybe three friends in the game. We ordered goods from each other a few times before we all got bored with it. No big deal. Now I’m getting orders from all kinds of folks and it’s kind of creeping me out. I didn’t friend these folks, nor did I accept friend requests from any of them. Out of the blue I started getting orders from them for arrows and serpent’s teeth. That means these people I do not know now have access to my kingdom. They beam in whenever they want and randomly place orders for thunderbolts at my Mount Olympus. What’s more, my iPhone notifies me of this when I’m not playing the game. I didn’t say you could do that, iPhone! What the hell!

Again, though, the fault lies with me. I bought the wrong iPhone. I bought an incompatible app. I let myself get hooked on a stupid social game. I didn’t check the privacy settings of said game. So the fact that ‘scutie5561’ (not her real name) has ordered a shitload of grain from my Windmill and sent me a useless Griffin statue as a gift is my fault, as is the fact that I’m finding this out in the middle of a parent/teacher conference. I realize that. I do. But what am I supposed to do for the next few weeks while I’m jonesing to play on my phone? The nifty trivia game I bought, Qrank, only lets me play it once a day for a few minutes and I’m just not in the mood for Words with Friends at present. As I see it, I really don’t have a choice. Now that I’m spooked about buying apps for my lame phone, it’s plant magic cauliflower and deliver thunderbolts or nothing, far as I can see.

Please get here soon, 4S. I think I’m losing my mind.

Which reminds me, my phone interrupted me telling you about Feeding Frenzy. I should get back to that. Even if I can’t really recommend it wholeheartedly–the level requires way too many hints and is just barely this side of too long, too hard, and too dark–I did say I would not shortchange you LBP fans due to my mood. So while Feeding Frenzy has its drawbacks, it will be worthwhile for those looking for a challenge, especially if you have a better TV than I do. The level does some cool things with slo-mo here and there, and the little creatures that chase your sackboy are sufficiently creepy. The sound of their skittering feet alone is worth the price of admission. Just be prepared to spend some time. And then some more time. And then some more.

As for the other level I mentioned above, the one that made me laugh, well, I’ll tack that on too I guess.

I can’t believe I’m even including it, but I have to. It’s just so weird. It’s called The Level That Plays Itself!, and it’s called that because that’s exactly what it does. Given my disdain for crappy cinematic levels you’d think I would ignore this one. I can’t. What can I say? It charmed me. It’s dumb and quick and for some reason I played…er…let it play four or five times. What could possibly have happened to me that I’d suddenly be okay with wasting time on gameless games in this way?

No, iPhone 3G. I’m not blaming you. Once again…the fault lies with me.

In the meantime, please 4S. Please get here soon.

Click here for the previous Weekly Little Big Planet