“Let’s all gather around and let me tell you a story…”
That is something how Puppeteer would begin with. Puppeteer is very unique video game and it is PlayStation exclusive (PS3). As mostly all of Sony’s PlayStation exclusives, usually by indie developers, are exceptional; Puppeteer is no exception. It is a 2D (actually it is 3D… no 2D3D game. That’s because it is played as “2D platformer” but there is 3D option, if your TV supports it.
As of 2013, when this game came out, 3D was still popular thing but nowdays it has slowly faded away.
Puppeteer tells story of Kutaro; a puppet who ended up in midst of an crazy adventure that nobody wouldn’t ever believe! The story starts of Little Bear who stole a Moon Goddesses Moonstone and magical scissors, Calibrus. After that he named himself as Moon Bear King and smashed the Moonstone into pieces and handed over a piece to each of his Generals so they would gain power and they all could reign the world.
For years he ruled as a king and captured children’s souls to his castle as in form of a puppet so they would be his slaves. They had to do all the houshold tasks and made him food so he could stay fat and fed.
An old witch tried to get her hands on the Calibrus too, for a reason of unknown, so secretly she tested if any of the lost souls could climb to the top of the tower into the Moon Bear’s room and steal the Calibrus. But no-one was fit enough until she met Kutaro. Kutaro managed to get his hands on the magical scissors but the witch couldn’t get them because Calibrus would chose only the purest of the hearts and Kutaro was the one.
At the same time Sun King’s daughter Pikarina tried to reason the Moon Bear to give up the Calibrus and Moonstone but he turned her in to a puppet as well! All three; Pikarina, the witch Ezma Potts and Kutaro ended up together and they realize they need to collect all the moon shards back from the Generals to stop the Moon Bear once and for all!
Very beginning is little bit hard to tell what is going on. I literally had to stop and load some parts twice to fully understand what they said and what they ment and how the story really began. I’m not sure how this is going to sink in to little kids (who are the main target of this game.) The storyteller is telling the story in very fast pace and also in the screen there is a lot going on and usually everyone is speaking over each other. It is like that in the entire game and in cutscenes too. It is difficult to put everything into a one big picture in first playthrough (not for all of course, but mainly for kids, I would assume.)
Regardless all that I have very good first impression. The story is wild, the characters are funny and corky, the humour is there, the characteristic is all in the right places, the areas is changing rapidly. I’m ready to go!
First you start in a cellar or dungeon of some sort, after the Moon Bear had ripped your head off. Now you’ll need to find a new head before you die (in this game there is no life—meter. You can have 3 different heads and you’ll loose one if you get hit and you can have three hits alltogether when it is all over. Of course if you manage to catch the bouncing head back in a time limit.
Let’s talk about the image quality, graphics and 3D. The game is 720p and me now used to play 4K or at least 1080p games my eyes bled. What is this what I’m seeing right now? I thought it was a anchient legend but it is true… the 720p truly excisted after all!
OK for real now. I’m old and I know about bad image quality but I always try to compare the performance to the hardware running it; could it do better? And in this case: YES IT COULD!
There is barely anything on the screen, just some props and two little characters jumping around and 720p is the best you could do? I don’t remember anymore how PS3 games used to be but I do remember FullHD games with locked 30fps and high end graphics on it.
The 3D is not that bad if you forget the quality. 3D overall is below average and I used active glasses. If I would’ve used passive it would’ve half the resolution so then it would have been 360p. Yes, 360p 3D doesn’t that sound delicious.
The bosses are so much fun though. They are the best part of the game when you get to beat the main boss and trying figure out the way to do it since every boss has its own way to be beaten. It is not that difficult to try to solve the mystery since Pikarina is yelling the ideas out aloud.
The game is also 2 player co-op, but I couldn’t try it because it is only local not online and I don’t have any friends. Other would’ve been playing as Pikarina and other as Kutaro.
I think it would’ve been mostly one beating the enemies and other helping out.
The variety of enemies are non-existent. There is only one type of enemy (if you don’t count bosses, some random rats running accross you when they try to run away or bats flying towards you). The basic enemy is the Grubs; an enemy made from yarn and a trapped children’s soul to make it alive. Kutaro needs to kill as much of these enemies as possible to free the souls.
My native language is not English and the game is dubbed in my language (it is very uncommon language and yet it was dubbed.) I was very surprised about that but the performance ran short. Every voice actor was from good to OK but the Pikarina struck the most how bad she was. She sounded like a 10—year—old who try to speak in ironic tone to annoy the parents. Very much annoying. The english dub was marvelous to me. The male British storyteller is always a sure hit.
Let’s talk about the effects that were well executed. I love the bouncing and pulling apart props when the scenario changed. All the little accidents that happen in the background and loose ropes and broken set pieces… you get the picture.
There was also lots of hidden things in the set pieces. Usually if something moves in the background it is something or someone hiding there. Usually it is hidden puppets or something extra like a new head.
The heads are not just for the show, they held very important role which is where to use your head. Along the game there are spots where by standing comes a picture of a head you’ll need to use (by pressing down from the arrow keys) and Kutaro uses his head (it won’t lose it by using it) he simply does a little scene with each head uniquelly. It unlocks something that is not usually there or it can give you a shortcut or a new head or etc. Some of them are difficult to obtain since you need to be able to carry a specific head long way to the right spot without losing it. Usually there is a cauldron right next to the spot which gives you the needed head, but sometimes the cauldron seems to have mind of its own and it won’t give you the right head.
The audience in the Puppeteer is with you the whole time. They will whistle, applause, gasp and do lots of different kind of noises along the story. If you play with headphones you can hear bunch of various detailed noises and voices that adds more real—feel like experience.
If the Puppeteer had middle name it would be Humour. The whole name would be Puppeteer Humour Packed. All the different characters and their clashing personalities and opinions and moods and needs and not—needs. They will make you smile if not by purpose but at least by accident. Either way; mission achieved. I think the humour only works in English, with my native language it wasn’t that good. It hit the mark but it only made a little scratch.
The controls are very simplified. You can jump, run, do body slam, cut with the Calibrus, use or change heads and push/pull objects. That’s all you need!
The controls works very well, but sometimes it is hard to jump or aim flying Kutaro to the small portal which changes the scenario and you’ll usually fall in to your death.
Difficulty level of this game is not that high. I would say it is very low. You don’t even need to wander around in a huge areas to figure out what to do when you’re in a small 720p screen where you can move left or right and with a flying Pikarina who tells you every 5 seconds what to do even if it’s the most obvious thing to do in the universe.
Only difficulty would be collecting every trophy, that’s all.
The story seem to be jazzy but in the end it feel like couple chapters too long. When you think it’s all done and done — there comes more. And what wouldn’t it be without a little plot twist, eh?
For 40€ price (at launch back in 2013) it might be little bit too much. I would say 30€ is more the way to go. (They should’ve used the Calibrus to cut the price down!). Now at 15€ in PS Store it really is worth it, eventhough I would’ve priced it under 10€.
My last impression is positive but little bit mixed, but mainly positive.
The only bummer is the image quality. If you are looking for sharp at least FullHD experience do not touch this. Ever. Especially if you have 4K TV.
The game is very low quality of image sharpness and overall image quality, with that I mean crispyness and smooth edges and smooth color blending etc. Eventhough this game is from 2013 and for PlayStation 3 it still should’ve been better! There isn’t much for the processor to do than relax and wait yet another plot twist and they couldn’t make it better? Come on! Or maybe they tried hide their bad, lazy and quick job of the game graphics in to a low resolution solution? Who knows. But the gameplay, story and the characters all make you forgive the others sins!!
After all this; would I play it all again? Hell yeah, at least one more level!
The bosses are so much fun though. They are the best part of the game. When you get to beat the main boss and trying figure out the way to do it since every boss has its own way to be beaten.
One More Level points: