Nobody could accuse of Media Molecule of cynicism. LittleBigPlanet's introduction has the ever-reassuring Stephen Fry refer to Planet Earth as "an orb of dreams", inhabited by creatures boasting "vast imaginations" that are "charged with creative energy". The scriptwriters have obviously never watched Jeremy Kyle or spent an evening down our local Wetherspoons, else they'd be more likely to characterise humanity as being "vastly cretinous" and "charged with GBH".
Still, you can't blame them - such optimism is born of necessity, not choice. The ongoing success of Media Molecule's flagship game relies entirely on the generous industry its players, those who build and share levels with the rest of the community. Without that creative energy, LittleBigPlanet would be a dead planet.
Surveying the servers a few months post-launch, it seems the studio's faith has been well-placed. There are 50 pages stuffed with around 20 user-generated levels each, offering weeks' worth of bonus content to the hungry player. Of course, that's a lot of wheat to sort the chaff from - but we've had a go.
To date, LittleBigPlanet's user-generated content can be divided into four categories. The first encompasses the many levels that parody or mimic existing videogames, films and television. Popular examples include creations based on Metal Gear Solid, Super Mario 3, Ico, Shadow of the Colossus, Mirror's Edge, Jurassic Park and Takeshi's Castle.
Next there are the levels that use the in-game tools to show off impressive feats of engineering, such as upsiladre's Little Big Computer, an awe-inspiring product of copious free time and dizzying autism, and Physicslike's Automatic Reversi. These fantastic contraptions perform rudimentary tasks (digital calculators and Reversi apps are included on the most basic PCs and mobile phones, after all), but their appeal lies in the fact they rely on in-game ropes and pulleys to function.
Then there are the music player levels - constructions that play popular melodies as the player runs along collecting notes and triggering sounds. Take Radiohead's No Surprises by HappyBivouac and To Zanarkand 1.0 by Kirathian as examples. These aren't levels per se, as there is rarely a problem that needs solving or a challenge to overcome. They are popular, however, and their painstaking execution warrants some applause.
Finally, there are levels are based around neither existing IP nor gimmicks, a purer form of user-generated content that must stand on its own merits of design and execution to win fans. It's this final category we're concerned with today as it's these creations which prove or disprove LittleBigPlanet's cornerstone assumption - that gamers + time + tools = "an abstract plain of beautiful wonderment just waiting to be explored", as Fry's introduction puts it. Here are ten of the best user-created levels, each one bound to win over the most hardened of skeptics.