Format reviewed: PS3
Other formats available: None
Developer: Sony Studio Japan
Although gaming is an international thing, sometimes you can tell where a game is from the minute you start playing it. That is definitely the case with Puppeteer, a wonderfully mad game.
There is something about Japanese gaming that grabs some people. Over the years I’ve known many people who just love the cutesy, ever so slightly bonkers games that seem to come out of the land of the rising sun. Puppeteer is no different, but this is in no way a criticism because it is a stunning and innovative looking game.
The backstory for the game appears to come straight out of the Bonkers Book of Batty Bits and Bobs™. The premise is that you take on the role of Kutaro, a puppet who has lost is head. This was taken by the evil Moon Bear King.
In return Kutaro has pinched his magic scissors and with the help of a cat called YingYang (who can perform miaowgic (I know!)) and various fairies, he is trying to free the Moon Realm and the earth children that the Moon Bear King has captured.
See what I mean? I haven’t made any of that up, but in the end you don’t really need to know much of it really.
In fact the story can get in the way sometimes as the cut scenes that carry the story on can get tiresome when all you want to do is get into the action. Thankfully you can skip them if you want to.
What is lovely about Puppeteer is the way that it looks. The whole setting is inside a theatre in a kind of pantomime style. Each level is like an act from the play with red curtains sweeping back and forth and the start and end. This makes from a sort of sideways scroller, with a little vertical action too.
Some parts are quite limited in scale, you have two distinct edges to the stage that aren’t that far apart. Other levels are wider and do remind me of LittleBigPlanet in the way that they look.
To add to the theatre feeling the soundtrack includes audience reactions. When things go well they cheer, but if Kutaro fails you do get some quite pantomime ahhs and oohs.
As Puppeteer has only one main character we did wonder how well the two-player would work and unfortunately we were left disappointed as this is the weakest part of the game. In two-player mode the player not controlling Kutaro is left controlling either YingYang or one of the fairies that get freed as you go along. Neither of these characters can do that much.
All they can do is open the floating cauldrons that contain spare heads (lives) for Kutaro or collect Moon Stars. For every 100 of the latter that you collect you get extra lives.
Although on the face of it Puppeteer could look like many other platform games, and LBP in particular, it does look beautiful and plays really well.
The mechanic for using the scissors to fly and cut your way across the game is a nice innovation that beats endless button presses for jumping.
So if you’re a fan of LittleBigPlanet and want something that is a little similar but also wonderfully bonkers at the same time, then Puppeteer is for you.
Review by Tuckski for BCS