As kids, many of our greatest adventures took place in the world of pretend, with symbols and pure imagination taking the place of expensive toys and gadgets. LittleBigPlanet has always understood the power of creativity, and with LittleBigPlanet 3 it's clear that no amount of big-budget blockbusters can ever really compete with the unlimited resource of player originality.

Much like the first two LittleBigPlanet games, LBP 3 offers low-stress, high-fun platforming action with an insane number of collectible stickers, costumes, and items to find and build with. The story this time around sees your Sackperson called upon to help save the world of Bunkum from some general do-baddery being inflicted on it. To do this, you'll need the help of Bunkum's legendary heroes Toggle, OddSock, and Swoop, who are silly, fun new sack characters who do the lion's share of keeping LittleBigPlanet fresh and exciting. Each of these characters comes with their own distinct playstyles— OddSock moves with great speed and agility, and its levels are generally frenetic, twitch-based affairs which will get your blood pumping. Swoop can fly, and Toggle can swap between a low-weight, high-speed form, and a larger, brawnier shape, an ability which you'll use to solve some truly excellent puzzles.

This trio of merry Sackbeings feel like fitting additions to the LBP universe, and are each fun to play in their own right while adding a nice dose of variety to standard adventure levels.

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Not to be outdone, your Sackperson earns a variety of cool new gadgets to hop and bop with, like rocket boots, a hook helmet to grind with, the blowing/sucking power of the Pumpinator, and more. These gadgets, and your trio of new Sack friends, are all used in brilliant tandem throughout LBP 3's lengthy story mode, helping you navigate treacherous terrain or solve brain-tickling puzzles. The dangers are always just dangerous enough to feel fun, but not frustrating, and the puzzles have just enough mystery to them to satisfy once they're solved, but never so much that you'll bang your head against the wall for a solution. Here, fun comes first and foremost.

LittleBigPlanet 3's visuals are charming and unique, and its music keeps the energy high no matter what you're doing. The controls have the same intuitive layout of previous entries in the series, so those of you who worried about no longer being able to make your Sackperson dance a jig or slap a goofy face on with the tap of a button, worry not. The only real issue with controlling a Sackperson is that their jumps can feel a bit too floaty at times. Many players may finding themselves wishing they would hop with a bit more heft, but the game is built around your Sackperson's feathery footwork, so it's not really an active hindrance.

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If you've played any of the previous LittleBigPlanet games, you'll know that player contributions are a huge part of the games, and LBP 3 doesn't fail to disappoint. From the first moment you start the game, you'll have access to everything you've unlocked in the previous entries, from stickers to DLC costumes, and all of your custom levels are fully accessible (as are the levels created by other players). So, should you want to try something different from the campaign, all of the most brilliant player-made stages are there and ready for you to try. Though there are plenty that aren't much fun, the most creative, highly-rated custom levels are easy to find and jump into (many even getting recommendations from the actual development team), so you and your friends will have more than enough content to keep you playing.

Creating a level yourself isn't the easiest thing, as a controller feels like a slow substitute for a mouse and keyboard, but the tools are all there and work with precision. Plus you can manipulate virtually anything in a level, both in terms of aesthetics and gameplay, which is how people manage to do things like build a sackified version Final Fantasy VII. While there's a lot to learn if you want to build something as impressive as FFVII, the custom content tutorials will get you educated in no time. Each tutorial is its own level, and has you play through a scenario using both your Sackperson and your level editor, teaching you the mechanics by having you play them rather than simply making you watch them in action.

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Whether playing alone or with a friend, LittleBigPlanet 3's gentle, quirky platforming action should put a smile on the face of even the most jaded gamer, and its truly spectacular custom content engine is only limited by your imagination. Whether you want some hardcore platforming action or an easygoing trip through a land of hugs and high fives, LittleBigPlanet 3 has what you're looking for.

This review was completed with a retail copy of LittleBigPlanet 3 for PlayStation 3.

9.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating