5. The Azure Palace by gevurah22

Employing a similar colour scheme and aesthetic to Lara Croft's latest adventure, The Azure Palace is a sprawling underwater temple, designed with thoughtful precision. Seaweed flaps in the currents while barnacles lend the environment an ancient feel. The jetpacks littered about create the illusion of swimming through an underwater ruin.

For much of the level you'll be carrying a glowing key around with you, used for unlocking doors and progressing from area to area. The level's high point, a chase scene where you must escape a furious sea monster, key in tow, is an impressive set piece. The Azure Palace demonstrates how raw ambition can be successfully realised with talent and diligence.

See The Azure Palace in action.

4. Gnome Liberation Front by CandyJunky

While the level design is all CandyJunky's own work, the concept mirrors that of the infamous Half-Life 2: Episode 2 achievement, in which players were asked to carry a garden gnome with them throughout the entirety of the game.

Gnome Liberation Front has a more laid back, Nintendo-style approach to level design than Valve's work, with an emphasis on humour and gentle enjoyment over infuriating challenge. The use of colour in the designing stage is wonderful, the clear blue skies and deep green hills as inviting and joyful as anything Media Molecule came up with for the main game.

See Gnome Liberation Front in action.

3. Libidius.jp by RRR30000


Probably the most famous user-created level comes from Japanese player RRR30000. It's the first truly successful attempt at creating a side-scrolling shoot 'em up.

Libidius.jp, with its delightful pixel art ship and inspired firing mechanism, proves that LittleBigPlanet's tight rule-set does allow for some interesting cross-genre interpretation. The influence of Konami's Gradius is obvious but the restrictions of the engine and tools available give the level its own unique feel.

Once you've played it through to completion (which will take a little time thanks to the one-hit kills), it's well worth taking a look at this 'making of' video for an enlightening glimpse behind the creative curtain.

See Libidius.jp in action.

2. World of Color by geosautus

World of Color is a few months old but it remains one of the most professionally designed levels available. The striking, clean colour scheme (the level is set in a snowy landscape that's contrasted by the CMYK colours used for the objects) ingeniously signposts what you must do next, communicating tasks in clear and understandable terms.

The level provides replay value by offering points of interest and reward off the main path through its obstacles, traits that have helped establish geosautus as one of the community's brightest and best designers. See another sterling example of his work here.

See World of Color in action.

1. Huge Pinball Machine JPN by KB-Fran7

This Wild West-themed giant pinball machine is an extraordinary feat of both conception and execution. The in-game instructions are all in Japanese but it's not difficult to get a handle on what's required of you. Manoeuvre your Sackboy into the chute and hit the R1 button to fire him up and up and up a ball chute. Then he'll explode out into a giant pinball machine and a playground of levers, bouncy balls and tunnels.

You only have minimal control over your character once he's bounced to and fro, but the eye-popping joy of being flung around the environment at high speeds is enough. Like the best pinball machines this one's stuffed with secret areas and bonus points, and as such enjoys the best replay value of all of the levels listed here.

See Huge Pinball Machine in action.

Sometimes we include links to online retail stores. If you click on one and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. For more information, go here.

Jump to comments (63)

About the author

Simon Parkin

Simon Parkin


Simon Parkin is an award-winning writer and journalist from England, a regular contributor to The New Yorker, The Guardian and a variety of other publications.

More articles by Simon Parkin

Comments (63)

Hide low-scoring comments



The little game that could.

All LittleBigPlanet game servers shutting down in Japan

UPDATE: LBP Vita safe, as well as 1-3.

Sackboy celebrates 7 millionth LittleBigPlanet level

LBP community still publishing 3.7 levels per minute.