Ever since his debut on Little Big Planet for the Playstation 3, Sackboy has become an extremely popular icon in the gaming space. He’s a cute and heroic sackperson or sackthing who is tasked with saving the Imagisphere – a place where human creativity is collected and becomes victim to many threats of being stolen and destroyed. Little Big Planet itself is a testament to human creativity as it has had over six million user generated levels since its launch. Back when the Playstation Vita, Sony’s handheld console was popular, they released a game called Run Sackboy! Run! which was a sort of side scrolling infinite runner. That title made its way to mobile, perhaps because of the downfall of the Vita and is still available to play right now. Now, Sony has revealed Sackboy: A Big Adventure for the Playstation 5 and it got me thinking…could mobile do with another Sackboy game? Yes, I think it could. In fact, I think we’re long overdue for it, and I also think that now is the perfect time to make it. Let me explain why.
After installing and playing Run Sackboy! Run! for a bit, I realized a few things. This game was clearly a promotional piece for Little Big Planet and nothing more. The amount of stickers and costumes you could collect paled in comparison to its source material and the gameplay style seemed like it was chosen based on what was popular at that time. Games like Jetpack Joyride and Canabalt topped the charts circa 2014 when the game was released. However, the more I thought about it, none of this was a problem at the time. You see, the fact that this game even came to mobile marked a shift in Sony’s ideology. Normally, their properties would be restricted to Playstation consoles, but I think that they started to realize that everyone was walking around with a phone in their pocket. This meant that they could expose a lot more people to buying their games and even a big ticket item like a Playstation. A seemingly small action like releasing a game based on one of their biggest set pieces of that generation meant that they could potentially add millions of people to their brand.
Little Big Planet has always riffed off of our human desire to collect things. After firing up LBP3 on Playstation Now last week, I had a renewed appreciation for it. Many games aren’t offering what Media Molecule is with this series. The ability to collect an ungodly amount of stickers, clothing items, etc. and mix and match them has got me excited once more. I so badly wanted to take that experience with me on the go, but alas, I couldn’t. Not natively, at least. However, I started to think about collecting as a concept. Why DO we collect things? What is our fascination with hoarding physical or digital items and trying to complete a set? I remembered that a popular Youtuber named VSauce put out a video about this very topic a while back, so I thought you would enjoy watching it as well!
It dawned on me that this type of collecting gameplay, from what I’ve seen, is largely missing on mobile nowadays. I’ve got the itch and I need it scratched. Who better to do this than Media Molecule with another Sackboy game? Think about it…with the incredible advancements in mobile gaming, we’re no longer restricted to side scrolling infinite runners. While these games still exist today as a preference, which is fine, it’s no longer the best that developers can do with the tools and power available to them. It’s not inconceivable to say that the gameplay style shown in Sackboy: A Big Adventure could be possible on mobile today. I’d wager it’s actually quite easy to achieve. The leaps and bounds that mobile has made in the last 10 years is just staggering. Games like Apex Legends, Fortnite and more are not uncommon to see as new releases on mobile almost on a weekly basis these days. Who would have thought we’d be here now?
Sure, Sony would want to reserve Sackboy: A Big Adventure in all of its glory for the Playstation 5, but the mobile version of such a game wouldn’t have to be all encompassing. In the trailer below, you can see there are certain features that may be more difficult to achieve on a handheld device. Things like making platforms appear out of thin air, although that’s hard to explain, may be tapping into some of the Playstation 5’s massive power stores. That’s okay though – so long as a new Sackboy game for mobile had troves of collectibles and a Mario 64 style free roam gameplay like the new PS5 title does, I would be more than satisfied. It’s not about flashy graphics or amazing technical details, it’s about that sense of accomplishment…the sense of accomplishment that Run Sackboy! Run! on mobile failed to give me.
I imagine that with how massive the phone market is today, Sony would have no problem getting people to go out and buy a Playstation 5 after playing a new Sackboy game on the go. Sure, it’s no Horizon: Forbidden West or Ghost of Tsushima, but it’s definitely a title that could have a lot of appeal, especially for those who love collecting things, which is basically everyone!
One of the biggest opportunities for Sony in this space is that they can promote their other launch titles through the game. Sackboy has a unique ability using his very plain and cute design to basically be dressed up as any character and to accurately take on their likeness. In the past, Media Molecule has used this to cross promote games like Metal Gear Solid , Marvel’s The Avengers and Final Fantasy. Imagine being able to get costumes for Sackboy on your phone for characters like Aloy from the Horizon series or even Crash Bandicoot. That would be awesome.
“We’ll always be very careful,” Tom says, reassuringly. “We’re not going to start putting him all over the place. And it has to be quality titles as well. We’re very protective of him still. We only want him in quality games.”https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2012-10-17-the-rise-of-sackboy-the-mascot-playstation-has-been-searching-for
With all of that being said, that doesn’t exactly guarantee that Media Molecule will even create a new mobile game for their series. There aren’t a lot of games starring Sackboy and for good reason, but of those that do, they present a unique opportunity for the character to be used in a meaningful way. With how mobile has evolved, though, I think that a port or riff off of the new Playstation 5 game would be one case where he’s well utilized. Just because Run Sackboy! Run! feels as though it was dumped on to mobile from Vita to preserve its…vita, or life, that doesn’t mean that a new game would have to be the result of a failed marketing strategy, but rather the beginning of a successful one. Times have changed and the quality and accessibility of mobile is the gateway to many other methods of gaming, if not the destination. It would be a mistake to avoid it, I think.
Games starring Sackboy
- Little Big Planet 3 – 2014
- PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale – 2012
- LittleBig Planet Karting – 2012
- LittleBigPlanet Vita – 2012
- LittleBigPlanet 2 – 2011
- Modnation Racers – 2010
- Sackboy’s Prehistoric Moves – 2010
- 3D Dot Game Heroes – 2010
- LittleBigPlanet PSP – 2009
- Rag Doll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic – 2009
- LittleBigPlanet – 2008
“Every single game Sackboy stars in, it has to have the LBP ethos, and that is to be able to do more beyond the game,” Tom says. “We always want the tools and the toolbox. I don’t think we’d ever want to just do a game that was just Sackboy doing something but then it ended at the end of the game. It has to be something that goes beyond that and allows you to create and share and do all the things people are used to in LBP.”
Mobile is very commonly used to take an intellectual property and make it trans-media. It also has a very strong and compelling creation tool – a touch screen. There’s no better way to interact creatively than just reaching out and touching, grabbing, painting or sculpting what you want. So, I strongly feel it’s makes sense for the company to use the platform for Sackboy once more. Also, Sony has become more comfortable with releasing mobile apps and games under their brand, so the likelihood that we could one day see another Sackboy game is a lot higher than it used to be.
Little Big Planet is about letting your imagination run wild. It’s about exploring what it means to be creative and satisfying that urge to collect along the way. With an iconic mascot like Sackboy at the center of a new mobile experience, I feel that Sony and Media Molecule could not only garner a lot of attention for their new Playstation 5 exclusive and even the console itself, but also set right what Run Sackboy! Run! got so terribly wrong. Mobile is the perfect platform to give this one more try and with the release of the new console and Sackboy’s standalone adventure, I believe that there is no better time than right now.