Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
SCE Japan Studio
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
September 10, 2013

If you’re a fan of unbridled imagination and creativity, if you’ve adored the LittleBigPlanet games, if you appreciate the sometimes over-the-top artistic nature of this developer, Puppeteer is for you. In fact, it was tailor-made for you. There’s a whimsical charm blended with a frenetic, seemingly acid-induced zaniness that makes this game undeniably appealing. A platformer first and foremost, Japan Studio opts to let their creative juices run free and before long, you’ll realize that this is like no other platformer you’ve ever played.

It’s difficult to evaluate the visual splendor of Puppeteer . I don’t mean that I question its quality; that much is absolutely evident at every turn, as the inspired backgrounds, diverse and ridiculously crazy landscape, and beautiful animations are all excellent. Sometimes, though, it’s almost too insistent. We occasionally lose track of the protagonist, Kutaro, just because so much crap is going on all at once. That’s a bad word – “crap” – but you get the gist. The whole presentation is wonderfully dark and comically foreboding and I loved every wacky element. It’s just that at times, it felt like a little…much. Maybe it’s just me.

The sound molds itself to the off-the-chain nature of the game, in that the effects are various and almost impossible to define, and the soundtrack is fittingly loony. On the one hand, the music inspires traditional thoughts of a standard fairytale but on the other, the tracks mirror the frantic quest and force you to acknowledge that the designers may not have been fully sober. That isn’t meant to be a mean-spirited comment; I’m just trying to match the style of the game I’m evaluating. Again, though, the great audio can get lost in the shuffle at times, simply because that shuffle is jam-packed with tons of content. But the voice acting is top-notch.

Puppeteer has a little of everything and despite feeling a tad repetitive at times, there’s always something especially charismatic about this production. Kutaro has been stolen away to the dark side of the moon, where the evil Moon Bear King holds sway. The villain places Kutaro’s body in a puppet who must serve as a slave, but Kutaro doesn’t do everything he’s told and in a fit of rage, the Moon Bear King rips off Kutaro’s head and tosses it away. Now, believe it or not, the dark side of the moon has all sorts of diverse environments, and it’s through these landscapes Kutaro must travel on his noble quest.

Adopting the colorful, highly active world of Japanese puppet theater, the game utilizes musicals and plays throughout the course of the quest. Everything we see takes place on a stage, as each level is preceded by the rising of a red curtain. During the level – or rather, the performance – invisible stagehands remove and replace sets with efficient skill, and the spotlight always finds the main players. The audience is also very real, and their reactions accompany just about everything you do. It’s an odd experience, really; it does feel like a performance in some weird, twisted way, and when the audience boos, you feel as if you’ve let them down.