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Puppet Fighter

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Don't mind me up here; I'm just gonna keep having my Luma beat you up.

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 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. However, they just as often dominate the tier lists.

This is strictly a 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 The Minion Master and Assist Character. The puppet in question may be an Attack Animal.


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    Action Game 
  • In 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.
  • In Devil May Cry 5, the new character V fights this way. He attacks mainly by controlling 2 familiars: Griffon, the demon bird that fights at range, and Shadow, the demon panther that does melee attacks. His Limit Break summons a third one: Nightmare, a large lumbering golem-like monster. He seldom attacks himself, except for finishing his enemies off; his familiars cannot kill enemies, only damage them. His 2 main familiars can be taken out if their HP are depleted; they can go up again if their HP regenerates to full, which can be sped up by walking close to them.
  • Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number: The Swan Twins, Alex and Ash, are treated as one playable character, with Alex using a chainsaw and Ash using firearms. Alex is technically the twin whose movement the player controls, with Ash following very close behind and always facing the same direction as his sister. Alex's attacks are controlled with the left mouse button while Ash's are controlled with the right mouse.

    Fighting Game 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future is the Trope Maker in this instance. 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. However, the true Trope Maker is Devo the Cursed, whose puppet is the very origin of the term "puppet character" in fighting games.
  • 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 her yo-yo (or Roger, her Teddy Bear Robot Buddy, depending on what move she used). Her control over the yo-yo is much more limited than Zato/Eddie's control, though, since she 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.
    • Zappa is a sort of a cross between this and Stance System. Instead of working in tandem with a single puppet, he summons a random puppet out of three and must change his playstyle accordingly: going for pokes with the sword, backing the opponent into a corner with the dog, or fighting from a distance with three ghosts. In addition, every special he lands (including the summon) gets him an orb. If he summons a puppet with eight orbs, the puppet will be Raoh, turning Zappa into a Lightning Bruiser for 15 seconds.
  • BlazBlue:
    • 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.
    • The difference between the two is quite intentional. Carl loves his sister and the two fight together as a team. Relius is a sociopath who uses Ignis like a weapon, and he's the one firmly in control. On the other hand, Carl is a weak kid and fairly reliant on Ada to do most of the heavy lifting, while Relius could probably be very dangerous even without Ignis' assistance.
    • In the spin-off BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle, this is the quirk of the Persona 4: Arena cast, as they fight with their Personas as well as their partners, and unlike their home game they're not bound by the Persona Gauge, though the Personas can still be destroyed which would leave the user at a distinct disadvantage. In addition, it's possible to use what's in the Tag Gauge to temporarily call in your partner for infinite assist moves until the gauge depletes, at which point you switch characters. In other words, it's viable to turn your partner character into a temporary puppet character as long as you have some gauge left and have both characters still kicking.
  • 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 to 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 together.
    • Rosalina & Luma act as a more pure puppet fighter duo, with Rosalina leading Luma. Unlike with the Ice Climbers, 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.
  • Rivals of Aether: Forsburn can summon an AI-controlled clone of himself and can command it to stand in a certain area or feign attacks in order to confuse other players. With a full charge of smoke, he can even detonate the clone, sacrificing it in return for a powerful radial blast. The clone is rather fragile, so even one hit will cause it to dissipate into a cloud of smoke.
  • Soulcalibur V: Viola 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.
  • Skullgirls: Ms. Fortune 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.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds:
    • Oleander's level 2 super unleashes Fred the demon from her magic book, who then acts as a second character.
    • Pom's playstyle centers around summoning a number of sheepdogs to fight at her command. In fact, she herself doesn't usually attack at all; almost all of her attacks consists of her dogs doing the fighting, interspersed with her getting spooked by their barking and accidentally hitting the opponent. It's only when her Level 3 super gets triggered due to the opponent hitting one of her pups that she snaps and beats them up herself.
    • Stronghoof goes to battle alongside his winter sprite companion Vetr, who aids him by blowing wind and by using Stronghoof's discarded weapons for follow-up attacks.
  • Titan Quest: The various minions that can be summoned, which the player can order around, referenced in magical equipment with the "Puppetmaster's" suffix, that grants 200 Hit Points and a 10% speed increase to minions.
  • 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, although to mitigate this, it's also the only Persona that can block attacks.
    • 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.
    • Ultimax also has Ken Amada, who fights with Koromaru the dog at his side. Koro follows Ken around when he moves, and can use his own regular and Super attacks when the player presses certain buttons. He also has his own separate health bar; when it's depleted, he is out of the fight until it refills, however the player can dismiss Koromaru at any time to let him recover at the cost of losing some damage during certain Super attacks. Koromaru also has an attack when he's dismissed that lets him return to battle by flying in from above like a meteor onto the opponent. Both Ken and Koromaru have their own Personas.
  • From Under Night In-Birth, the character Chaos has a puppet named Azhi Dahaka that functions similarly to Personas in the aforementioned Cross Tag Battle. He starts summoned, but only disappears when it or Chaos is hit. Chaos himself has no specials, as they're all tied to Azhi Dahaka.
  • 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.
    • Antinomy of Common Flowers introduced the Yorigami sisters, who play this trope straighter. Jo'on acts like a standard fighter, while her sister Shion automatically follows her around. Some commands will send Shion to attack.
  • 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.
    • In the Naruto Ultimate Ninja Storm games, Kankuro can also attack from a distance via his puppets, with Chiyo and Sasori joining him. They are a different case than most though, as the puppeteers cannot attack at all save for Chiyo's Ultimate Ninjutsu. This is compensated via the puppets having comparable strength to a normal playable character and moves that send the puppets to the opponent or back to the puppeteer.
  • Arcana Heart
    • Lieselotte Achenbach can throw out a red, legless marionette out of the briefcase to intiate this type of gameplay. The doll normally moves by the directional inputs and attacks by button inputs, though Lieselotte can set up markers to make the doll do different actions on her own. The doll can only take three hits unless recalled, after which she becomes unable to move, requiring you to use a super to revive her.
    • The Arcana of Shadow, Gier, also behaves likes this. If you hold down the button as you are doing one of its special attacks, you can control Gier to make it move as a shadow around the field to go into a position to attack. Fittingly, Gier is Lieselotte's default Arcana, meaning that she can utilize the trope with two things at the same time.
    • Lesser example happens with Nazuna and her crow Fusumi. Where it normally flies above Nazuna and attacks from there, Nazuna can make it move remotely. It is invulnerable for damage but attacking with it consumes Nazuna's "Rei-Ryoku" gauge and once its depleted, Fusumi returns back to Nazuna and cannot attack until the gauge is fully filled up.
  • In Eternal Fighter Zero:
    • Minagi Tohno fights alongside her best friend Michiru, whom you can move with the special button, or with special moves, forcing the opponent to keep an eye on Minagi, and the other on Michiru.
    • And to a lesser extent, Mai Kawasumi can call a Cute Ghost Girl, which appears at any spot of the screen via special moves, or can lock her on position with the special button; so, the key with Mai is to keep her opponent guessing where she's going to summon her.
  • In Pocket Rumble, Keiko has a demonic cat named Q who can turn into an Eldritch Abomination of sorts when attacking. Her gameplay is in the style of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Heritage for the Future and Persona 4: Arena. If Q has been hit enough times or self-destructed as an attack, he will not be able to attack until the next round.
  • Pom the sheep from Them's Fightin' Herds has a variety of dogs she can summon and command like this.

    First Person Shooter 
  • 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.

    Hack And Slash 
  • Zelda's Dominion Rod moveset in Hyrule Warriors revolves around her summoning Living Statues to attack in tandem with her swings of the rod.
  • Nico Robin from One Piece: Pirate Warriors 4 is a Technique style character who can create a copy of herself either close by or far away. The copy mimics whatever attack chain she performs, doubling the amount of hits she can dole out at once.

  • Phantasy Star Online 2's Summoner class is distinct from the rest of the classes in the game for its unique gameplay style where the Player Character actually does little to no fighting of their own, instead having command over Attack Animals called Pets that fight in the player's stead. Pets are distinct entities from the player, having their own health and buff timers, and even have a unique growth system and equipment associated with it (an Inventory Management Puzzle called the Candy Box) that powers it up. There are 13 different Pets in the game, with the ability to swap between them at will to diversify combat options as each Pet has unique attacks and abilities. The class is notorious for its esoteric gameplay turning away most other players despite SEGA's claims that it is a "beginner friendly" class, but players who master it find that it is an incredibly powerful Mighty Glacier class that, if played correctly, can be virtually Nigh-Invulnerable.

    Multiplayer Online Battle Arena 
  • Brawl Stars: Lola's Super summons a duplicate of herself, her Ego, wherever she throws the ability. The Ego moves and shoots whenever Lola does, meaning the player controls both at the same time. This also means the Ego will usually remain the same relative distance away from Lola, unless outside interference separates them, in which case it can technically exist any distance from Lola. Summoning the Ego right beside Lola is the easiest way to use it, as a way to simply increase Lola's damage without the complications of distance. However, the Ego's damage is reduced to half when within a certain radius of Lola.
  • DOTA 2:
    • The Lone Druid controls both the druid himself and his Spirit Bear, who also has abilities and can equip armor and weapons. If the Spirit Bear dies, Lone Druid can manually resummon it, but the long cooldown on the ability means Lone Druid players generally should take care to keep it alive, especially if he spent all his money on itemizing the bear.
    • Four semi-independent copies of Meepo can be controlled at the same time, each with their own abilities, but the copies can't use items. And if any Meepo dies, all Meepos die.
    • Zet the Arc Warden has his ultimate ability - Tempest Double - which creates a double that can use items (specifically, it copies the items in Arc Warden's inventory, with a few exceptions for the sake of balance). Unlike the Spirit Bear and Meepo's clones, the Tempest Double has a limited duration, although this also makes the Double much more expendable.
  • Heroes of the Storm:
    • The Lost Vikings gives you three characters to control at once with their own passive abilities; Erik is faster than a normal hero, Baleog's attacks splash behind the target, and Olaf occasionally charges at enemies and rapidly regenerates health out of combat. Each are much, much weaker than a normal hero, but they can triple-soak lanes while the rest of the team does other things for a huge XP advantage.
    • Rexxar is a duo between himself and his bear Misha. Misha can't be directly controlled, but will attack targets Rexxar aims at and can be given rough movement commands with built-in keys, and can perform a charge attack and be healed by Rexxar. Rexxar himself only has one ability (two if you choose Unleash the Boars as a heroic), so he's essentially worthless if Misha dies.
    • Samuro can become this with his Illusion Master heroic. Normally, Samuro summons two clones that are AI controlled. With Illusion Master, he gains direct control over them as well as massively increasing their health, damage, and duration.
  • Tremble in Heroes of Newerth summons a special version of Shudder for his ultimate skill if it's upgraded with a Staff of the Master. Shudder behaves almost like a miniature Tremble, having access to both its attack-enhancing Impalers and the ability to summon mounds, which Tremble and Shudder can both use to teleport between mounds. The differences in their skillset is that Shudder has passive damage deflection and can Ensnare enemies to immobilize them.
  • League of Legends has several, which come in two broad varieties:
    • Some champions are based around repositioning one or more points that they can cast abilities from or at:
      • Orianna, the Lady of Clockwork, a Squishy Wizard accompanied by a simple Attack Drone known as The Ball. Orianna herself lacks much power, but The Ball is able to be constantly repositioned to smash into enemies, shield herself or her allies, or emit powerful shockwaves that manipulate speed or implode enemies. The main drawback is that The Ball must remain within Orianna's moderate range at all times, necessitating the player to keep track of two characters at once during any given fight.
      • Zed, the Master of Shadows, can summon Living Shadows that copy his abilities, restoring energy to Zed if he strikes a champion with both his cast and a shadow's. He can also swap places with his Living Shadows.
      • Shen, the Eye of Twilight, has a spirit blade that he calls towards him with his Twilight Assault ability (and which improves his attacks if he strikes an enemy champion when the blade is called to him), which his Spirit's Refuge ability is summoned around.
      • Azir, the Emperor of the Sands, summons sand soldiers that attack in Azir's place if he attempts to basic attack a target in a radius around them. His Arise! ability summons them, his Conquering Sands ability repositions his soldiers and damages enemies they pass through, and his Shifting Sands ability allows him to dash to one of his soldiers.
      • Syndra, the Dark Sovereign, is based around summoning Dark Spheres then manipulating them with her other abilities—she can grab them, extend their duration, and slam them at a location with her Force of Will ability, launch all Dark Spheres in an cone at foes to stun them with her Scatter the Weak, or simply chuck all of them plus the three orbiting her at an enemy with her ultimate ability, Unleashed Power.
      • Lulu, the Fae Sorceress, can temporarily move her passive faerie companion Pix onto allies or enemies with her Help, Pix! ability, and casts her Glitterlance ability from both her and Pix's locations.
    • Some champions manipulate a controllable pet or puppet of some kind that deals damage:
      • Kindred, the League universe's personification of Death, is a dual character comprised of Lamb (the player-controlled character) and Wolf. Wolf usually hovers in Lamb's vicinity, but she can direct him to patrol a wider field or join her in attacking one particular target.
      • Annie, a pre-teen fire mage, can summon her teddy bear Tibbers to fight for her. Tibbers is about eight feet tall and on fire.
      • Similarly, Ivern the Greenfather can summon a friendly jungle golem named Daisy. (Well, she's friendly to him).
      • Yorick, the Shepherd of Souls, summons multiple lesser undead plus a revenant (the Maiden of the Mist), though he has only limited control over her. If he chooses, he can point the Maiden down a lane and let her go, letting her push on her own until she is killed.

  • The Binding of Isaac:
    • Lilith cannot fire tears normally. Instead she's followed by an Incubus familiar that deals 100% of her normal damage but trails behind her slightly. She also start with Cambion Conception and Box of Friends to summon more familiars.
    • Jacob & Esau are two characters controlled simultaneously, and you can choose to control just Jacob by holding the drop key if precise movements are needed. They don't share items with each other, and if one dies they both do.
    • There are also a few items and consumables that give temporary Jacob & Esau-style companions: Strawman gives a Keeper that fights alongside you until it dies, Found Soul gives a soul that copies all of your items but dies until next floor if it takes any damage, while Soul of the Forgotten and Soul of Jacob & Esau give an expendable Forgotten/Esau respectively for the current room.
    • Tainted Eve has pathetic starting stats, but converts her hearts into blood clots over time while firing. The clots protect her and fire alongside her, copying her tear effects and dealing a portion of her damage, however they get weaker over time and can be killed. Activating her pocket item, Sumptorium, lets her convert clots back into health if needed.
    • Tainted Forgotten is an invulnerable skeleton with a powerful melee attack, but it can't move on its own. Instead, the character you directly control is a ghost with no method of attack, but it can pick up and throw the body into position to hurt enemies.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Some fighters in Unmatched have the player controlling multiple fighters that aren't sidekicks such as the velociraptors, and Cloak and Dagger.