Why you should totally play Puppeteer
So I play a lot of video games, and we are seriously talking a lot here, in fact I'd say that it's my number one pass time other than reading and writing. Being someone who plays a lot of video games I do occasionally find one that I want to talk about, so is the case with 'Puppeteer' a platformer game released by Japan Studio (for anyone who's wondering they helped out on ICO and they produced Ape Escape and Tokyo Jungle, not to mention some of the more quirky games for the playstation store. It's actually quite surprising if you look into how much they've made)
So why is the game worth talking about? Well firstly if you're like me and grew up on a steady diet of Playstation 90s 3D platformers this is going to be very familiar to you. In recent years players of the 3D platformer genre haven't had much to write home about, most platformers these days have to have some sort of gimmick to become popular and most of them rely on action on a 3d plain (In the case of Littlebig Planet several 2D plains) and while a lot of action involved in the game is on a 2D plane it really does feel like you're playing an old 'Crash Bandicoot' game.
Gameplay wise the platforming feels nice and fluid, which is to be expected of any platformer worth its salt, but admittedly the combat leaves something to be desired. If combat is a deal breaker you might find yourself bored as it's all pretty much one button combat, however the gameplay mainly shines in the jumping puzzles. A lot of the platforming requires you to go shooting across the stage, slashing through long sown strips, carving through pieces of paper or cloth to pull yourself through the air and rapidly chopping tough obstacles to remove them from your path.... Oh, did I not mention that your main weapon is a giant pair of magical scissors?
So yeah I guess this is a good time to mention where the game really shines, the style. The entire game is presented like a theater show or more accurately a puppet show, with set changes and fourth wall breaking conversions occurring throughout the game. This stylization lends the game a sense of cohesion, making everything seem like it belongs to world that the game has created and it really works. There are enemies made up of cloth and bits of metal, NPC dummies made from cardboard and when you are moving through the levels you can see cogs moving the set through broken stage dressing.
The game oozes the style for the entire time you're playing it and does really well especially with some of the boss characters and NPC's (although on that second point it may be accused of borrowing a little heavily from Littlebig Planet once again) but it's the design of the main character, Kutaro, that is the strong point of style. At the beginning of the game you lose your head (literally) and get turned into a puppet, meaning that you have to find spare heads as you play through the game. Each head you can pickup changes Kutaro's appearance, and all of the heads that you can find have 'magical' powers, in actuality this is mainly just a short animation that you perform with a tap of the D-Pad.
You might think that this is a little lame, I mean if you're going to be questing to find different heads you'll want them to do something right? Well while the powers you gain from different heads have little power in a day to day circumstance, each head can be used in the right circumstances to produce a reaction from different elements in each of the levels. Sometimes this can be something like gaining a few more collectible star shards and sometimes it can be unlocking a bonus stage (there's one in each level) but at any rate it does make you want to collect all the heads to see what they all do.
You may have noticed, dear reader, that I've neglected to mention much of the story of the game. This is really because the game feels like a story telling experience and I feel like sharing too much of it with you would ruin some of the fun of it. Part of the story's appeal is it's humor, as you play through the game you are accompanied by several different support characters and a narrator and the jokes that they've all been given really do tend to hit home, with a few very minor exceptions, and it really endears the characters to you. (Although there are a couple of characters that might attract some ire)
One last thing I feel it necessary to mention is that if you are trying to turn your kid into a true blooded gamer then you really have no further to look. Puppeteer is a game that stays fun for adults to watch/play without being inappropriate for young kids to play, it's really fun and is sure to be the sort of thing that your kids will have nostalgic memories about playing when they grow up. So if you've got kids or hell even if you haven't I definitely recommend the title, for it's style and humor alone.