In most video games, it's usually assumed that the player is in control of a single character. However, in recent years video games have been trying to overcome this by giving the character control of two entities at the same time.
A Puppet Fighter is a character from a video game—particularly Fighting Games
—who has the ability to actively control two separate persons or entities simultaneously. Usually there will be one entity will that acts as the main character, with the other acting as an extra tool, hence the "Puppet" in the trope name. They may either start off with the puppet on stage or they may keep the puppet off the battlefield except when certain attacks are used.
Done poorly, these can result in a Game Breaker
because they can control more of the screen than any of the cast. These characters may be balanced by creating an execution barrier to be able to get the puppet in control at all
, losing options when they have the puppet in play
, or placing a limit on how much the puppet can be used.
This is strictly a Video Game Trope
about the player controlling a character that has multiple entities. Any examples from media who control other characters or objects are likely a different trope.
Not directly related to Marionette Master
, though the two can overlap. Compare to Minion Master
and Assist Character
. The puppet in question may be an Attack Animal
- Devil May Cry 3
- Dante's Awakening'', Dante can obtain the Doppelganger style (after defeating the boss of the same name late in the game), which allows him to duplicate himself with the weapons he currently has equipped (the shadow copy can't change weapons). The doppelganger performs attacks for the weapon it has equipped even if Dante changes weapons after transforming, and it can be controlled to have an input lag while he mimicking the player. As an Easter Egg, he can be controlled directly with the use of a second controller.
- Vergil can be controlled independently in the same way together with Dante in the second half of the boss fight in Mission 19.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future is filled with these, and may well be the Trope Maker. Every character has a Stand, which depending on the character either acts like simple special moves or as their puppets. These Stands had a separate meter to them, and if it was depleted the character would temporarily lose access to the stand for a bit.
- Guilty Gear
- Zato-1/Eddie uses his shadow (that would be Eddie) to act as the puppet. If it's out, the character himself can attack by pressing the button while the shadow can attack while releasing the button. He can only summon his shadow as long as his shadow gauge is full, though, and once it's depleted, it can't be used for a long time. In a very literal and ironic sense, Zato ends up being killed by Eddie and has his body taken over by Eddie after GGX due to the death of his voice actor, making him the puppet to Eddie (though with no visible changes to their fighting style). Zato, however, is mysteriously revived and back in the saddle by the time of Guilty Gear Xrd.
- To a lesser extent, there's Bridget, whose puppet is his yo-yo (or Roger, his Teddy Bear Robot Buddy, depending on what move he used). His control over the yo-yo is much more limited than Zato/Eddie's control, though, since he can only set the yo-yo out into a fixed spot on the screen and activate attacks to make it move rather than actively control it during the match.
- Carl Clover is a Marionette Master whose puppet is Nirvana, an automaton that's really his sister Ada. Similar to Eddie, Carl can actively control Nirvana using his Drive and use her for attacks to keep his opponent stuck blocking, but only for as long as his gauge lasts. Once it depletes, Nirvana is deactivated and can't come out for a while.
- His father Relius, on the other hand, prefers to use his puppet Ignis (who turns out to be his wife/Carl and Ada's mother) in a different way. By activating his Drive, Ignis is summoned and can attack like Nirvana can, but will stay close to Relius whenever he attacks and will follow him on the battlefield rather than be at a completely different spot. Direct attacks scored on Relius will force Ignis to leave the fight until Relius re-summons her, and Ignis will be briefly rendered inactive like her daughter if her gauge is completely expended.
- Super Smash Bros.
- The Ice Climbers are a downplayed example. One acts as the "lead" character while the other acts as a support, controlled by the AI through "copying" the lead character. By de-syncing the Ice Climber's moves through wavedashing or similar techniques, they are able perform attack after attack after grab after taunt after whatever, with the two alternating between attacks. Trying to completely separate the two is suicidal, though, since doing so will change the AI on the support and cause it only to run to the lead Climber, preventing it from attacking. If the AI Climber is taken out, the lead Climber is severely crippled, as many of their moves are effective only when the two are togheter.
- Rosalina & Luma act as a more pure puppet fighter duo, with Rosalina leading Luma. Unlike with the Ice Climblers, Luma performs his own set of attacks at the same time as Rosalina does hers, and Rosalina has a move dedicated to separating them in order to cover more ground. Should Luma be taken out of the fight, he reappears after a few seconds without player input.
- Viola from Soulcalibur V is probably one of the first examples of this in a 3D fighting game. Her puppet is her crystal ball, and certain attacks and actions will set the ball somewhere on the playing field to stay at, similar to Bridget. She has completely different attacks whether the ball is set or whether it's in her hands, so players need to learn which one is best for which situations to properly play her, hence her notorious difficulty curve.
- Ms. Fortune from Skullgirls uses her head. Really. She can take off her head using certain attacks or lose it by being stuffed by an opponent during certain attacks. When she does, she gains access to a slew of special moves that aren't normally available to her, but her mobility with her actual body is decreased slightly. Also, if her head is attacked by the opponent, she'll take half the damage the attack usually does, meaning that she can take 1.5x the damage she would normally get if they hit both the body and the head.
- Persona 4 Arena
- Similar to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future, most of the characters are puppet fighters. They can all summon their Personas to perform certain attacks that would be unavailable to them otherwise, but can lose access to their Persona if it gets attacked too often. The most blatant example is Shadow Labrys, who has the most active control over her Persona. It always moves alongside her and can be used in pressure strings by pressing the button to start up her Persona, starting a combo, and setting the situation up so the Persona's attack connects. Of course, this comes with the drawback that it's the easiest Persona to break, since it's out almost all the time.
- The sequel, Persona 4 Arena Ultimax, introduces Sho Minazuki, who is unique because he's not one of these, as he lacks a Persona. However, there is a different version of Sho (Referred to ingame as Minazuki) that has a Persona, playing the trope straight in the process.
- The Touhou Project fighting games have a few examples:
- Alice Margatroid's gameplay revolves around summoning dolls, either to perform regular moves and vanish, or stay in place and hinder the opponent. One spell card, "Futuristic Bunraku", allows the player to briefly control a doll directly while Alice stands off to one side.
- Usually Ichirin Kumoi's partner Unzan is not visible and just uses his abilities to increase her power and reach (manifesting his giant fists around her punches, etc.) but she also has some moves which cause him to attack independently. Given ZUN's love of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, this is generally seen as a reference to the gameplay of Stands from Heritage for the Future above.
- In the Naruto: Clash of Ninja series, Kankuro acts alongside his human-sized puppet Karasu. He's able to position Karasu independently of himself, to either take hits for him or perform combos from difficult directions. Amusingly, Karasu itself can be played alone as a secret character, which plays the trope rather literally.
- When the Engineer from Team Fortress 2 uses the Wrangler, he can move around the map on his own accord while letting his sentry act as his puppet.
- DOTA 2:
- The Lone Druid controls both the druid himself and his spirit bear, who also has abilities and can equip armor and weapons.
- Meepo takes this up to four: Four semi-independent copies of Meepo can be controlled at the same time, each with their own abilities, but the copies can't equip things. And if any Meepo dies, all Meepos die.