LittleBigPlanet is all about the user-generated content, and to get a handle on the creative tools at your disposal the developers have included a story mode, demonstrating the title’s level creation techniques within the familiar setting of a sidescrolling adventure title. Setting the whimsical tone for the game as a whole, the introductory movie depicts several still shots of people sleeping—in buses, bathtubs, and against trees—with pastel-hued stickers floating up from their heads. These knickknacks collect in the darkness of space, forming the titular landscape of LittleBigPlanet. This, your SackPerson’s “ethereal world,” as the genteel English narrator calls it, can be explored and enhanced with the varieties of objects and fabrics collected during the story mode. It is also an opportunity to draw inspiration from the levels designed by the folks at Media Molecule.

Your Sackboy starts off in a transparent-walled satellite called a POD floating in orbit. From there you can look down on the dream planet, whose continents all correspond to areas on the earth’s map. At the start you are given the option of selecting the LittleBig equivalent of Surrey, England—where the game was created. The circular icon standing for this location, resembling a badge sewn into the fabric of the plush globe, opens like a porthole so that you can jump inside. Your character enters the stage designed by Media Molecule, passing by photos of all the team members, a riff on the cinematic routine of opening credits. Here the narrator tells you how to move your head and pelvis around by tilting the SIXAXIS, and how to change your facial expression using the D-pad buttons.

Before long you can move beyond the intro stage to the continent of Europe, whose levels we are told were designed not by the game developers, but by “the King.” This is just one of the Creator Curators, giants made of wooden blocks and googly eyes that tower over your Sackboy and introduce to you the ins and outs of level creation. One of the King’s first stages is the Garden, where you learn how to grab onto objects using the R1 button and drag them around, or swing from hanging orbs using the same technique. Right at the getgo you can drag a beanbag over to the King and use it to scale his shoulder, thereby reaching some hidden items located on the rooftops in the background. Once you have collected these items, they can be selected at any time by hitting the square button and cycling through your stash, represented as icons inside an illuminated floating lasso.

One way to collect materials while traveling through the story mode is by keeping an eye out for cardboard cutouts. You will happen upon two of these early on in in the Garden, which appear in the shape of a star and tea kettle. Pressing the square button, you can bring up the lasso-shaped Popit Menu and select these items from your collection. Upon sticking the star and tea kettle stickers to the cutouts, you will be rewarded with several new materials and items falling magically from the sky. Your Sackboy can be dressed in the various wardrobe items you acquire along the winding road of the story mode. (There is also a function allowing you to select apparel at random until you have arrived upon a getup that suits your style.) Before long the basics of LittleBigPlanet become second nature. The next step in traversing the Africa and South America-themed stages is to imagine just what kind of landscape you would wish to design yourself.