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[PS3 Review] Puppeteer

One dark moonlit night, a young boy named Kutaro was carried away by the maleficent Moon Bear King to a black castle where the unlucky lad was transformed into a puppet.

Kutaro displeased the terrible tyrant, who devoured the boy’s wooden head and cast away his body. But the headless hero was not alone, for he had discovered a very special pair of scissors to help him on his harrowing adventure to find his head, and his way home.

Puppeteer is a brand new franchise developed exclusively for the PlayStation®3 system by SCE JAPAN Studio. Set in a magical puppeteer’s theatre, this title will introduce you to a strange and fantastic world, where the environment is constantly changing. Players will enjoy a rich, dark fairytale where surprises lurk around every corner.

Game Features

– Swappable Heads – The unique ability to change your head anytime you choose. Lose your head and you lose a life. Use your head and discover that you have the ability to change the world – Unique Platforming – Wielding a pair of magical scissors, Kutaro cuts and crops his way through the adventure – Dynamic Interactive Sets – Mesmerizing stage sets continually change to take you on a journey of discovery that will surprise and thrill – Theatrical Storytelling – Audience, lights, sets, music and narration all combine to create a mesmerizing, unique storytelling experience

Puppeteer is the latest game from Japan Studio, and every PS3 owners should stop reading right now and go out and buy (or stay home and download) this masterpiece.

If for some reason you’re not convinced yet, carry on reading this review and start to say goodbye to your money.

From the moment the main menu for Puppeteer appears in your TV, the charm of the game starts to pour out. The narrator welcomes you to a great night of theater where you will enter the wonderful world of Puppeteer in order to unravel and experience the tale of Kutaro, a kid that has unfortunately fallen in the paws of the Moon Bear King. Kutaro ends up being turned into a wooden puppet and, to make matters worse, has his head ripped away from his body. What is a boy to do when he doesn’t even have a head to think of a solution?

This sets the tone for the rest of the story as it weaves a magical tale filled with interesting places to visit and a bit of a dark humor as Kutaro sets out on a Journey to recover the Moon Stone shards scattered around the real… while also making sure he can secure a head to put over his shoulders. Without a head, Kutaro can’t continue to live as a wooden puppet, which is why he constantly tries on the most weird of things. How about using a spider for a head? Or perhaps you’d be happier with a burger? You can also find the good old-classic skeleton head, or maybe use a small Cherry blossom tree to carry on with your quest. You can store up to 3 heads at any time, and each one has a unique skill that can be activated to obtain small shards (you know how it goes: collect 100 and you get an extra life!), open new paths on each level or for being transported to a bonus stage where you’ll be handsomely rewarded… if you have the skills to complete it.

As you progress through the game, Kutaro will end up unlocking new abilities by finding key items that will help him overcome the challenges and henchmen of the Moon Bear King. The first one is a pair of magical scissors, named Calibrus, that can help him attack his enemies, cut through the fabric and almost “fly” around each level by jumping and then cutting through part of the scenery and special effects. Take for example a level in which you’re moving around between plants that sometimes release petals or leaves: Kutaro can jump and use the scissors to cut each of the petals or leaves while moving towards a platform in order to avoid hazards, enemies or bottomless pits. Another skill allows Kutaro to create a magical shield around him that also doubles as a way to reflect attacks from enemies, and this opens up new puzzles for you to solve as well as new ways of confronting mini-bosses and full fledged bosses in the game. And these two abilities are just the tip of the iceberg, but I won’t go and spoil things for you. You have to play the game to learn more!

Puppeteer also has support for the PlayStation Move which makes it very easy to control the second character (who can fly), and this second character can also be controlled by a second player either with a DualShock 3 or the Move controller. What’s the role of this second character? Kutaro can’t explore all routes in a level or find every collectible without the help of the second character because there are a LOT of things going on in the foreground and background layers while Kutaro makes his way to the end of the screen. The second character can interact with kids, enemies, characters or items anywhere in the screen, and this sometimes rewards you with small crystals, hidden heads or new routes to try and if you want to get every trophy in Puppeteer you HAVE to take your time and search every corner of the screen. On top of that,

The main enemies in the game are called Grubs, and they’re dark enemies with spikes coming out of their bodies (and heads)… but there’s more to them than meets the eye. Grubs are actually corrupted children that were trapped by the Moon Bear King, and their souls are what keep the Grubs going. Kutaro can defeat them and use Calibrus to separate their souls from the mad Grubs in order to liberate them so that they can return to Earth and escape from this horrible situation.

The only problem I ran into while playing was that sometimes the dialog from characters would start while a voice over for another character was still being reproduced, perhaps because I was moving through a level too quickly for the script running behind the scenes, but it only happened about 3-4 times in the whole game.

Puppeteer is another gem from JAPAN Studio, and a must-have for all PS3 owners. The tight gameplay, delightful graphics, amusing soundtrack and superb voice acting will pull you in and won’t let go until the end. Unique and exclusive games on PS3 are always great news, but when they’re as good as Puppeteer, they make people buy a system just to play it. If you have a 3D TV you’re in for a treat because the game is GORGEOUS when displayed in 3D, and it was actually developed to take advantage of the extra display dimension for its presentation.

[review score=”100″ pros=”Excellent presentation.

Superb voice acting.

Great use of 3D TVs.

Easy to learn gameplay.” cons=”Some overlapping of voice overs.”]


This review is based on a PS3 copy of Puppeteer provided by SCEE