Puppeteer is a fairy tale with the look of Tim Burton and the tone of Disney. It stars a young boy named Kutaro who lost his soul, turning him into a puppet by the evil Moon Bear King. With the help of the witch, Ezma Potts, and the spunky Sun Princess, Pikarina, Kutaro is on a mission to stop the evil bear, restore the Moon Goddess, and regain his soul. Accompanied by a fantastic set of performances, Puppeteer is heartfelt, funny, instant classic. It takes about an hour to kick things off and some scenes are a little drawn out, but these are small grievances in an overall charming story.
This game is like a cross between Mario and Little Big Planet. Kutaro has a magic pair of scissors, Calibrus, which can cut enemies and obstacles alike. For example, paper clouds can be traversed to clear gaps with a simple snip, snip. Kutaro's health is also unique in that he can collect heads, three at a time, to stay healthy along with gaining an ability from each noggin to unlock secrets. These hidden items range from more heads, bonus gems, or even bonus stages. The real pièce de résistance are the boss battles. Writing about them will not do the game justice. These are some of year's best battles, all in one package! From these bosses, to the implementation of Calibrus and Kutaro’s switchable heads, Puppeteer is a gas to play, albeit a bit clunky at times.
In terms of aesthetics, there's nothing like Puppeteer. The game is designed to mimic a puppet show so everything has a wooden, metallic, or paper look to it. There are seven acts with three stages in each and each level is distinct and better than the last. Levels can range from a Wonderland meets Neverland area, to a daring Pirates meets Little Mermaid adventure. The music, reminiscent of Danny Elfman, really brings things home, tying both the design and the story together into a wonderful masterpiece.
Puppeteer is a simple delight. Not since Ni no Kuni, from earlier this year, has a game brought a joyful smile to this writer’s face when thinking about it. It has its setbacks among its originality, but it’s exceptional nonetheless. Do not miss it!