No strings attached…
Sony Japan Studios new title, Puppeteer has been grabbing a huge chunk of the limelight during its time at Gamescom 2012 and it’s easy to see why once you have seen the game in action with your own eyes.
At the heart of its mechanics, Puppeteer is a 2D side-scrolling platformer set within a puppet show backdrop. The game features a fixed camera with all the scenery and level design changing in real time, with no need for rendering to be present at all. It’s stunning to look at, featuring a visual style that’s not really comparable to any other title out there at the moment. It really does stand out from the crowd thanks to its vibrant colours and the way they seem like they’re popping out from the screen.
Gavin Moore (game director) explained that he wanted to make a game that both impressed and kept his son entertained for long periods unlike other games which get shunned to the side after a short session. He also stated how the quirky yet beautiful world of Puppeteer was inspired by the Japanese puppet art, Bunraku. That inspiration is clear to see in Puppeteer’s level design, it really is a wonderful sight to behold. Backdrops vanish and pop up with new story elements and foreground sections change without any of the gameplay being restricted by the dynamic changes.
“What’s Puppeteer all about though?”, you ask? Well, you take the role of Kutaro, a young boy that has been transformed into a puppet (hence the title) and has had his head bitten off by a Moon Bear King. Following you and essentially guiding you through the lavish backdrops is a floaty, oddball called, Ying-Yang. The whole premise of may sound a tad bizarre, but this just adds to the charm factor of the game, giving it that unique quality. Switching back to the protagonist, Kutaro is tasked with finding a replacement head, with each different head in the game acting as a tool, aiding you in the completion of puzzles dotted around the game. For example, a spider head will give you the ability to complete a puzzle which involves scurrying around a web. The heads you collect, also act as extra lives as well. However, if you’re hit and you don’t collect the head within three seconds, you lose that head for good. You can collect as many heads as you like and each head is easily accessible at anytime. It’s a very simple premise when you think about it, but there are quite a few strategic elements to the game, as you’ll need certain heads to ensure progression is hindered.
Throughout each level, Kutaro can collect what are called ‘moon sparkles’ which are dotted through each stage.Collecting 100 moon sparkles will earn you a continue, introducing a strategic element to the gameplay.
As mentioned previously, from a visual standpoint, Puppeteer is a stunner. Bold and beautiful backdrops mixed in with stunning and quirky real-time elements really bring the whole experience to life in an instant. Although the story has an odd and, at times, unfamiliar take on what essentially is a 2D platforming title, this is what will draw people towards this title in an abundance as there really is nothing out there quite like this. It’s so original, but still keeps the homely and caring side that we’ve come to expect from the guys at MediaMolecule.
Puppeteer really is a breath of fresh air and something that needs to be seen with your own eyes. It’s presented in such a way, that you can’t help but be captivated by it’s breathtaking level design and elegant art style. LittleBigPlanet has been a huge success for Sony and with Puppeteer they have found another gem to add to the Sony family. Believe me when I say this, Puppeteer is one to watch.