Sony’s new Ultimate Sackboy is so bad it hurt my soul

Sony /

When LittleBigPlanet was first announced for the PlayStation 3, I had no idea what to expect. It looks like a children’s craft game mixed with a Mario clone. The character, who was set to be Sony’s Mascot, had one of the worst games in video games since Sega CD introduced us to “Wild Woody.” But when the game came out I fell in love. The game was a celebration in creativity and crafting fun things while allowing you to express yourself freely.

The game itself was an absolute delight in and of itself. Sackboy was expressive and you could change his expression, something no other game allowed me to do. The soundtrack absolutely slapped. And best of all, every stage in the game could be made in its incredible stage creation software. I spent hours creating stories and stages that could be shared amongst other people.

When the second came out it gave us even more tools to play with. The third? We don’t talk about the third. The third was and still is a broken mess but that’s because they took something impossibly rare and handed it off to a third party company who was NOT READY.

Eventually, much to the world’s dismay, LittleBigPlanet games stopped coming out. Sackboy now starred in Sackboy: A Big Adventure for the PS5 and, while a fine game in its own right, it had zero creation options. To make matters worse, Sony closed down the LittleBigPlanet servers, meaning that almost 15 years of people’s created stages were just closed off for the world, never to be seen again. It felt like LittleBigPlanet lost the “Big”.

But what came out this week is the worst thing they’ve done to poor old Sackboy. It’s called Ultimate Sackboy and is produced by Exient, a company that so far has made games like Wacky Cricket and Topsy Turvy as well as what’s basically a ported rom of the original Lemmings game.

If that doesn’t give you enough of a hint of what kind of game it is, I’ll spell it out for you. It’s a mobile game.

But it’s also the worst thing you want tied to LittleBigPlanet… uninspired.

Ultimate Sackboy takes away platforming and creativity and a heavily customizable character. Intstead, it takes Sackboy and his world’s crafted aesthetic and copies and pastes the assets over Subway Surfers.

And I don’t mean that this game is a fun spin on Subway Surfers. I mean this game is Subway Surfers — Subway Surfers all the way down. Here, let me capture some gameplay for you.

You see it? It’s Subway Surfers. If you play this and ignore the tutorial you’ll know how to play it immediately. It even takes place on tracks with LBP-style trains you need to dodge.

One of the most disappointing things about this, after you take away the complete removal of creativity and the fact that this is a clone of a game from 2012, is that not only did they take away the concept of Subway Surfers, they took away FROM the concept of it. It doesn’t even have an endless running mode. You get to play for a few seconds to see how many points you can get and then, depending on how well you do against made up bot scores, it determines how much points you get.

Winning a round helps you move up in the season pass. In case you were worried that there was ANY hint of a soul in the game, no, this game has a season pass. But while you can pay to move up in the season ranks, you can only gain rewards four times a day unless you pay extra for premium currency. It uses that “four treasure chests at a time, only one can be opened at a time and it takes 1 to 20 hours” format that went out of vogue about a decade ago. So even if you pay, you still have to pay. It’s insane. It’s everything bad about micro-transactions of old COMBINED with the bad of the current era. So now I get the joy of paying to not have to wait for an arbitrary timeline to pass AND pay for the chance to POSSIBLY unlock things I want.

This is bad. I haven’t seen a company work this hard to kill off the faces of their brand since 1996 when Marvel let Rob Liefeld take all the Avengers out of Marvel to make the “Heroes Reborn” universe. Which, honestly, has some similarities here. Because trying to find how this game has anything to do with the message of LittleBigPlanet is a lot like trying to figure out where the ass is on Rob Liefeld’s “Heroes Reborn” Captain America.

Nuff’ said.