Putting 'art' in 'kart'

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Entertainment,Ryan Vogt

The most exciting thing about "LittleBigPlanet" Karting" is the same thing its makers are trying to suppress the most: that the wonderful series "LittleBigPlanet" has grown into the third dimension.

In the great timeline of gaming history, "LittleBigPlanet" will have a mark as the series that made game design safe for the masses, with user-friendly tools for creating everything from "Super Mario Bros."-style sidescrollers to strategy games in the vein of "Command & Conquer."

It seems the folks behind the latest entry were afraid that moving the game creation kit into full 3-D would be overwhelming for us amateur designers, so they narrowed the focus to one genre: karting. In effect, United Front Games has remade its 2010 game "ModNation Racers." Instead of a true "LittleBigPlanet," we get a "Mario Kart" knockoff with a great level editor. In short, if you want to re-create your favorite track from "Mario Kart 64," you got it; if you want to re-create your favorite level from "Mario 64," no dice.

Did I mention the level editor is great? It only took a few minutes to make a track in the rough shape of the Prince symbol, and the hours flew by as I added mountains, water features and giant ramps. As much fun as it is to try out levels made by other people in the "LBP" community, the heart of the series remains the experience of tinkering with your own experiments.

'LittleBigPlanet Karting'
» System: PS3
» Price: $59.99
» Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Still, it's frustrating to be given a huge sandbox but only one way to play in it. The creators of "LBP Karting" prove that it's possible to create things that have nothing to do with karting, with sample games including a "Star Fox"-style space shooter and a giant pachinko machine. But with the tool kit tailored so specifically to karting, it's hard to know where one would even begin to make games like these. Some how-to videos, in addition to the game's excellent stable of standard tutorials, would be welcome. As would a full "LittleBigPlanet 3-D."

rvogt@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Ryan Vogt

Examiner Staff Writer
The Washington Examiner