In a time where 2D platformers are cool again, Puppeteer stands out as a unique and fun gaming experience. The amazing presentation and solid gameplay will captivate all audiences although it does look like a children's game at first.
Puppeteer stars a little boy named Kutaro who is transformed into a puppet and decapitated. He meets a large cast of colourful characters during his journey to stop the Moon Bear King and his 12 Chinese Zodiac-themed generals. Kutaro is armed with a magical pair of scissors named Calibrus and an arsenal of abilities that are learned as the game progresses.
The entirety of the game looks like a puppet show. Each stage is filled with sets that collapse upon completion as new sets quickly pop up. It looks incredible and it looks even more incredible when played in 3D. The depth of each set really pops and makes you want to reach into your screen to interact with the colourful world inside. Every character in Puppeteer has personality to spare as they are voiced in a way that makes them feel alive. A narrator also lends his voice to help portray each scene with puns and humorous monologues. A problem with this is that characters may speak over the narrator at times thus making it difficult to decipher what either is saying. What puppet show would be complete without an audience? As players control Kutaro and scenes play out, reactions from the audience can be heard in the form of gasps, laughter, and chatter. Complete with an orchestral soundtrack, this game looks and sounds amazing.
Considering Kutaro has no head, he will have to make do. He does so by finding various heads and attaching them to his little puppet body. However, it's hard for Kutaro to keep a head on his shoulders. Whenever he gets hurt, his head falls off and he must collect it again before it disappears. Players can keep a stock of three heads at a time and if all of the heads are lost then Kutaro loses a life. If the player collects 100 abundantly available yellow gems called Moonsparkles then they gain an extra life. Players can select which head they want for Kutaro out of the ones in their stock on the fly. Each different head has a short animation that plays at the tap of a button and these animations can trigger secrets if used in the correct locations. Each head that is found is permanently added to a gallery so it's fun to try and collect them all.
Players must learn the controls as they are not that simple. Kutaro has many moves and abilities which utilize most of the controller's buttons. Kutaro runs, ducks, jumps, rolls out of harm's way, and cuts with his scissors. These are all performed simply and responsively. Kutaro is a puppet so jumping with him does feel a bit floaty but this only adds to the overall charm. Players can use the scissors to cut through obstacles by tapping rapidly, cut floating objects in order to move in the air, and cut along set seams on a fixed path while jumping to avoid obstacles. Kutaro learns additional abilities throughout the game. These include being able to throw and drop bombs, guard to deflect projectiles back at enemies, a hook claw, and body slam. It becomes difficult remembering all of the controls since there are so many abilities. This being said, the controls are tight. The game is challenging and rewards players for fast thinking and precision.
A couple of different characters help you out during the journey. These characters float around the screen while activating certain objects in order to reveal hidden features or make items such as heads appear. Players can control this character with the right stick or have a second player join with either another controller or a move controller. Secondary players can pick up items to give to Kutaro which cannot be done while playing by yourself. This multiplayer feature is a nice addition although the second player may get bored because their role is very minimal.
Kutaro doesn't have that many enemies to fight in the game. Players will find themselves battling the stages more often than enemies as they cut down, explode, and interact with scenery. The enemies that you end up fighting release a child's soul upon defeat. There are a limited number to collect in each stage so players are encouraged to find and release them all. Combat is usually as simple as mashing the attack button and dodging enemy attacks.
There are seven acts that are divided into three stages each. The stages are quite lengthy and each of them features many scenarios and various gameplay mechanics. Although these stages contain many diverse segments, the majority of the game is spent platforming which is fun, but after a while players will look forward to the next distinct sequence. Each act also contains three very well hidden bonus stages. These stages are like mini games and will unlock as you find them, allowing you to play them whenever you wish. The boss fights that occur from time to time are great fun. Taking a boss down is always a process with different phases where players must figure out what to do in order to progress. A picture book is unlocked after completing each act which is basically a classic fairy tale but done in the Puppeteer universe. With many long stages and rewarding collectables, Puppeteer ends up having a lot of value.
Puppeteer is a must buy for all platform game fans. It has a ton of content and great gameplay wrapped in a beautiful package. You would have to have no head on your shoulders to pass on this wonderful game.
- + Fantastic graphics, 3D support, music, and voice acting
- + Solid and challenging gameplay
- + Plenty of lengthy and diverse stages
- - Characters sometimes speak over the narrator
- - Too many controls are hard to remember