Puppeteer Review For PlayStation 3
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 3.
Are you a fan of artsy platformers like BattleBlock Theatre? Want something with a storyline and a unique flavor? Well, look no further, because Puppeteer is a new release from Sony on the PlayStation 3 that is guaranteed to entertain all ages! Set in a magical universe that creates entire kingdoms sectioned off and based on the Milky Way Galaxy, the planets will align as we leap string-first into this puppet-driven, theatre-like platformer.
Our protagonist Kutaro starts off just like any other little Earthling boy: with a name, a life on Earth, and a head. Unfortunately, things take an unfortunate turn for our unlikely child hero thanks to the evil mastermind, the Moon Bear King, who dethroned the Moon Queen, took her magical scissors, and shattered the Moon Crystal (the source of the Moon Queen’s power) so he could become an undisputed leader. He then gave a piece of the Moon Crystal to each of his seven Generals for safekeeping. Now, the Moon Bear steals the little boys and girls from Earth, and either eats their heads or traps their souls, turning them into mindless drones that do his bidding and protect his fortress.
Believe it or not, Kutaro was the lucky one – he only had his head bitten off! A mysterious flying cat named Ying Yang came to his aide, telling him that there was a Moon Witch who would restore his head if he could help to dethrone the Moon Bear King and restore order. Silently, Kutaro accepts this quest and embarks on a legendary journey, making friends and learning new skills along the way!
In the beginning, Kutaro has no abilities but running with the left analog stick and jumping using the X button. His only help consists of Ying Yang flying around and uncovering hidden items or secrets. Ying Yang is controlled with the right analog stick, and uncovers hidden items or secrets with the R2 button. You will uncover different heads along the way as items that resemble things like a Spider, a Bat, or a Cherry Tree, that are useful to unlock bonuses when used near a head symbol etched into the background. Kutaro can carry a total of three heads, and if he loses one, he can either chase it down before it disappears, or use a different one. If you have no more heads in your collection, however, you will die! Extra Lives are collected by obtaining 100 or more mini Crystals you’ll come across in your travels that can be unlocked via your companion.
Continuing on, Kutaro will come across different abilities, like throwing bombs, using a shield, or obtaining a grappling hook. These all have separate buttons, which make for an easy transition through the levels without having to fumble with a lot of new commands. The only issue players will run into is when you use the shielding ability, as it does not cover all angles and can often leave people inching back and forth during action-packed moments, just to find the sweet spot that will deflect an enemy’s attack, which can cost you your heads. On the flipside, one of the most unique features of the game has got to be the pair of Magic Scissors that Kutaro obtains from the lair of the Moon Bear King. Since the entire world is created as if everyone was a puppet, the Magical Scissors are used to cut through the fabric of different bosses, or snip along paper leaves and vines to reach your destination, flying over bottomless pits or toxic lakes in the process. As you progress through the game, the story will al so switch your companion from Ying Yang to Pikarina, a fiery flying pixie girl who claims to be a Sun Princess. The only difference between the two is that they provide different commentary and personality to your adventure, but they cannot be interchanged at your choosing—they are your companions for different parts of the story.
While the game can take a darker tone at times, there are many comic relief moments when certain characters will even stop the show as if this were in front of a live audience, like when the Frog Queen turns into a Drama Queen and Pikarina closes the curtain on her, starts a monologue to explain what’s going to happen next, and then eventually just leaves the stage in a huff, dragging Kutaro behind her. Be it a linear platform level, running on the back of an evil puppet snake, to a climbing platform level, full of pirates, sharks, and parrots (oh my!), here is a wide variety of levels to keep you interested and amused, with a diverse cast of characters, and multiple obstacles and new inventive ways to complete levels that is bound to keep you entertained.
Voice acting in a game like this can make or break the immersion in the story. Thankfully, the only distraction you’ll find is a specific character model: Pikarina is this game’s Navi. A constant companion, once you obtain Pikarina you will probably want to swap her out for your original companion Ying Yang. While the rest of the cast does an excellent job, Pikarina tends to be grating, repetitive, whiny, and ear-piercingly high-pitched. The rest of the voice actors not only cater to their personas, but to their species as well. Moon Bear King has a grizzly pronunciation, dragging his Rs and making gruff undertones, while Ying Tang softly rolls his Rs and gently hums along with a hint of a Spanish accent accompanying his purrs.
The music also intertwines with each theme in a perfect balance, creating fast and furious thumping music for boss battles, and quirky overtures when scaling each level. When the Moon Bear King is on the scene, heavy brass erupts in baritone, almost as if the music itself is waddling along with his steps, and shaking the walls around the room with its moments of vibrato. This is an audible pleasure to play with, and really helps gamers get into the bizarre and fairytale-like themes throughout the entire adventure.
Flawlessly imaginative is the best way to describe the entire theme of this game. Each scene has been carefully crafted as if you were watching an old fashioned puppet show. The themes go from bright, brilliant and full of warmth, to dark, twisted and full of monsters lurking in the shadows. To top off these incredible themes, the game itself shifts and transitions from scene to scene, or platform to platform, as if you were shaking a bunch of puppets around in a drawer. Each piece jostles slightly to and fro, making it feel as if someone in real life were behind the scenes trying to shift everything quickly so the audience won’t notice. That being said, it really works for the entire feel, and while this jostle does happen, it is artistic and not distracting, only adding to the beautiful imagery.
If all of this wasn’t enough to justify the $39.99 price tag, any Bonuses you unlock can be replayed as often as you’d like from the Title Screen, each Act (three levels or Scenes per) has a collection of heads Kutaro unlocks, a set number of enemies to defeat, secrets to unlock, and even artwork to view. The game shows you how much there is to find, and makes it so you have to come back later to unlock some of it, so you find yourself compelled to come back and see just what neat tidbit you can find. Overall the gameplay will take about seven hours to complete, without going back and unlocking everything afterward.
Interesting level design, unique gameplay, fantastic story, creative casting and musical scores – this is a platform that will leave its mark. Puppeteer took its time to ensure that every detail was carefully designed, and on a technical level alone is worth its weight in gold. If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to kill time by yourself or with a friend, this is a game that’s sure to satisfy.
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