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February 2017

Here's How Not To Accidentally Break Your Free Download Of LittleBigPlanet 3

LittleBigPlanet 3Sony is turning LittleBigPlanet 3 for the PlayStation 4 loose as one of its February 2017 free games for PlayStation Plus, and while it's more great fun for LBP fans, newcomers should heed the advice of Sackboy veterans who are familiar with the game's quirks and bugs.  It's frustratingly common that something could go wrong with your save data through no fault of your own.  It turns out that LBP 3 is a little, how should we say... frayed around the edges?  Over at Reddit, KlawwTheClown has some easy advice to help you steer clear of any mishaps.

Obviously when LBP 3 came out, it was terribly broken and almost unplayable for a lot of people, and a lot of the major problems have been fixed since then, but it's still far from perfect and it's really easy to accidentally have your profile become corrupted, or for your adventure mode save to permanently break.  I figure since a lot of new people are going to be playing LBP 3 soon, it's probably not a bad idea to point out some of the more common bugs that people run into, so hopefully you can avoid them.

The short version of this advice is to backup your save data often.  You'd think that's easy to do thanks to PlayStation Plus providing free automatic cloud storage for save data, but LBP 3 save data is notoriously huge if you collect enough stickers and objects (especially if you import your previous LittleBigPlanet profile into it).  I bought the game over a year ago on a super sale and while I had a lot of fun with it, the first thing I had to deal with was the sudden creation and attempted failed upload of a 600 MB profile!  Backing up to a USB drive became a necessity if I wanted to safeguard my data.  Just don't let these issues scare you away.  There's plenty of fun and creativity to be had here if you take proper precautions.


The Oral History Of Ms. Pac-Man

Ms. Pac-Man

Namco's smash arcade hit Pac-Man was all the rage in 1980, but could it be even better?  What if the game featured multiple mazes?  What if the bonus fruit could move?  What if the ghosts could potentially catch our protagonist when he hid in that one corner?  A few enterprising young students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found out in 1983 when they created an add-on kit for Pac-Man that added these elements called, er, Crazy Otto.  It wasn't long before American Pac-Man distributor Midway heard about Otto and made an offer to the team that would change the arcade scene forever as Benj Edwards chronicles in his oral history of Ms. Pac-Man

Macrae: As soon as Midway said, 'Let's make a sequel out of it,' we no longer had to avoid the Pac-Man name. They originally said, 'Let's make it into Super Pac-Man.' I think that was the first game that they suggested.

We looked at the intermissions. Even on Crazy Otto, in the first intermission, a yellow Pac character with legs called Otto meets a red Pac character with legs, which obviously had to be a female Otto, because a heart goes above their head. They chase each other, and eventually a baby is brought to them by the stork.

We were looking and going, 'Wow, we've got a whole storyline here about how a character meets a red character that's female. Why don't we turn this into a male and female Pac character, and build a bit more personality into them?'

It's a fascinating tale full of twists, clever programming, lawsuits, and a walking pretzel.  You should definitely make time to read this one in full.  I had no idea what this team went through to make their vision a commercial product and that they occasionally need to remind Pac-Man owner Namco that they did, in fact, create Ms. Pac-Man and are entitled to a piece of the merchandising pie.  I'm so glad that someone is collecting and telling these kinds of development stories.  Every major cultural milestone video game needs an oral history article like this one.