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Video Game / Puppeteer (2013)

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Not many people can perform a Yorrick soliloquy with their own head, but Kutaro is one of them.

"Welcome to the magical theatre, of the strange and fantastic..."
Professor Gregorious T. Oswald

Puppeteer is a side-scrolling platformer for the PlayStation 3. Puppeteer takes place in a magical puppet theatre, owned and run by the slightly eccentric but thoroughly charming Professor Gregorious T. Oswald. His latest production is the weirdly titled “The Perilous Journey of a Boy Named Kutaro.”

On one dark, moonlit night, the star of the show, a young boy named Kutaro, is carried away by the maleficent Moon Bear King to a black castle, where the unlucky lad is transformed into a puppet. Kutaro then displeases the terrible tyrant, who duly devours the boy’s wooden head and casts away his body. But the headless hero is not alone, for he discovers a very special pair of magic scissors, which will help him on his harrowing quest to find his head -— and his way home.

Unlike most games where you move through the world, the world of Puppeteer actually moves around you, with all the action taking place on the same stage. The sets are continually moving and changing, taking you on an adventure with surprises in every scene.

Puppeteer contains the following tropes:

  • Animated Actors: The game is a play and every character is a cast member acting a part.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: After swallowing the souls of every child on Earth, Moon Bear King becomes a giant larger than his own castle.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Moon Bear King, a foul-tempered nasty grizzly that devours the souls of children and lives in the thematically named Castle Grizzlestein.
  • Big Bad: The Moon Bear King overthrew the Moon Goddess and now rules over the moon with an iron fist.
  • Big Eater: Pikirina shows signs of this, especially when the cake appears in Hallowee Ville.
  • Born Lucky: The main difference with Kutaro's attempt to steal Calibrus succeeding where so many other children had failed comes down to him having an immensely lucky break, as he manages to navigate the staircase of violent death to reach the vault on the same night the Moon Bear King's forces captured the Sun Princess, Pikarina, and brought her before the tyrant. Whilst he's preoccupied with transforming her with his magic, he forgets to lock the heavily-sealed vault door behind him, allowing Kutaro to sneak in and reach Calibrus. His good nature also allows him to be deemed worthy of wielding the legendary scissors against the Moon Bear King's forces, something Esma Potts hadn't expected, planning on using him as little more than a Macguffin Delivery Service. Ying Yang Lampshades Kutaro's great fortune when they enter the vault.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Kutaro's original head, which you get after you beat the game. It has the ability to activate every head action without the intended head.
  • Bright Castle: Castle Waxwane
  • The Chosen One: Subverted; Ezma went through a LOT of "chosen ones" until Kutaro happened to get past the staircase of violent death. It helps that he had the unique ability to get up to three health points (and regenerate these), but other than that he's just a normal kid. The main difference comes down to Kutaro having the good luck to make his attempt on the same night the Moon Bear King's forces captured Pikarina, the Sun Princess, leading to the tyrant being preoccupied transforming her into a pixie and imprisoning her, leaving the vault containing Calibrus unlocked for Kutaro to sneak in and become its chosen wielder. Even then, it's implied Calibrus simply took the first opportunity it had to leave its imprisonment with a suitable wielder, rather than any grand destiny of Kutaro's, though over the course of his journey he eventually becomes the chosen hero of the moon through his deeds.
  • Clockworks Area: The second half of Act 6: Curtain 2 takes place in a giant clock tower. Professor Gregorious even mentions how the gears make convenient footholds.
  • Colossus Climb: Inverted, the final boss against the Moon Bear King has you literally cut him down to size until he's just a head.
  • Cool Sword: By appearances when closed, the magical pair of scissors Calibrus. Wielded like one it's more like a blunt instrument. Still excellent for cutting though.
  • Cosmic Keystone: The Moonstone, the source of the Moon Goddess's power and what keeps the balance in the Moon Kingdom in check. First, it was shattered into two Moonstones by the Moon Bear King, and then the Moon Bear King shattered the light side of the Moonstone even further into twelve Moonstone Shards and entrusted one piece each to his twelve Generals.
  • Crosshair Aware: General Horse's missiles show crosshairs on the ground before striking.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ying Yang, Ezma's cat.
    "Lovely, another dunce who left his head in the Moon Bear King's belly..."
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Nebula Oblongata gets mad if you call her Susan.
  • Downer Beginning: First, Kutaro has his soul snatched from his sleeping body and forcibly dragged to the Moon realm against his will. Then he's sealed into the body of a wooden puppet in the grip of the temperamental Moon Bear King. Then the King rips off his head and swallows it when he disbelieves the boy's frantic agreements to be his friend, tossing his still-animate headless body into the depths of his castle prison without further regard for him. (In gameplay terms, this means the player gains control of Kutaro one hit point away from dying). Then Kutaro is offered aid and guidance on controlling and using his new body, only to effectively be sent off on a suicide mission to steal a highly-valuable and prized possession of the insane tyrant who just maimed him by a witch who makes it clear she doesn't care much for his well-being and an old cat who makes it clear he has no faith in him succeeding in the task given how many similar children she's thrown against it already. Thankfully, once Kutaro actually makes it to the vault, his luck begins to turn around and he becomes Calibrus' chosen wielder, enabling him to start fighting back against the Moon Bear King's forces and changing the world around him for the better.
  • Eastern Zodiac: All of the Moon Bear King's generals follow this theme.
  • Fantastic Light Source: The Snackerbosk forest uses both fireflies and pumpkins as sources of light in an otherwise pitch-black forest. The fireflies also double as a safeguard against the wandering ghosts.
  • Fetch Quest: Kutaro is another kid in a long line of kidnapped children sent by the Witch to fetch her the Moon Bear King's scissors.
  • Forced Transformation:
    • Bugging the Witch during tutorial segments will make her turn the current companion into a creature or object related to the current events, such as turning Ying Yang into a carrot, or Pikarina into a parrot.
    • The Witch herself is actually the Moon Goddess turned into an ugly form by the breaking of the White Moon Crystal.
  • Framing Device: The whole game's story takes place within a puppet show being performed by Gregorious T. Oswald and the actors and puppeteers of the theatre he runs.
  • Gangplank Galleon: Act 3, Curtain 1 takes place above and below deck on The Jolly Lambham, Captain Gaff's former ship now taken over by General Pig and General Sheep.
  • Geek: Gregorious starts to geek out when there's giant robots or airplanes about.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The Robo Crab boss. Using the crab head during it causes an ACTUAL giant crab to appear. And yes, they DO make the obvious jokes.
  • Giant Squid: The boss at the end of Act 3 Curtain 2 is The Kraken, who is now the owner of a sushi restaurant that kills the local marine life and turns them into various delicacies.
  • Good is Not Nice: Ezma Potts aka the Moon Witch. She merely wanted to use Kutaro to get Calibrus herself, and did so by sending children off to their almost certain doom.
  • Ground Pound: A Use Your Head version granted by a bull-masked Wrestler head.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The main reason Kutaro succeeded on the Witch's FetchQuest, is because his decapitation at the hands of the Moon Bear King allowed him to use other heads.
  • Hooks and Crooks: Kutaro gains a Grappling-Hook Pistol ability from a Pirate head.
  • Idle Animation: Over one hundred for Kutaro, one for each head.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Turns out this is what Moon Bear King wanted all along, friends.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Kutaro can use Calibris (which are swords) as a weapon against Moon Bear's army and his generals.
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: The Octopus boss.
  • Ironic Echo: "Kutaro, will you be my friend? Pals to the bitter end?"
  • Killed Off for Real: All 12 of the generals are killed. General Rat gets strangled, General Dragon gets cut to pieces, General Monkey gets lost in space and so on and so on.
    • Possibly averted since every general is seen during the ending credits. Since every character is an actor, it's possible that their deaths were just for the story and not intended to be real. It's also possible that while the bosses fought may be dead, the child versions of them might have survived, since Little Bear lives while Moon Bear King dies. We just never actually see them.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: A Knight head where the shining armors is a gameplay element.
  • Large Ham: Considering it's a play, there are a lot of these. The Kappagaeru mother and Nebula Oblongata are this in-universe.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: When the Moon Bear King shattered the Light Moon Stone, not only did it rob the Moon Goddess of her divinity and beauty, but it also wiped her memories of her previous identity. For three years, she believed she was but an ugly, old witch named Ezma Potts, and isn't until Kutaro and Pikarina reassemble the Light Moon Stone that her memories (along with her true form) come back to her.
  • Legendary Carp: In "Act 2-chapter 1", when wearing the koi head it can summon a koi that takes Kutaro to a bonus level. That’s not enough you assume, well, what if we were to tell you that when Kutaro use the dragon head, it turns the koi into a golden dragon.
  • Lemony Narrator: Professor Gregorious is the narrator of the game.
  • Level Ate:
    • One of the very first levels takes place in the Witch's kitchen, and is spent jumping on various oversized foodstuffs.
    • Curtains 1 and 2 of Act 5 have lots of candy and pumpkins in them, but it's specifically stated that eating them will turn you into a monster.
  • Losing Your Head: Kutaro has his head ripped off in the intro to prevent him from taking up the mantle of the Chosen One and defeat the Moon Bear King.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Killing General Dragon causes the gateway between the Earth and the Moon to stay open, allowing the Moon Bear King to continue swallowing souls.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: As Ying Yang says, Ezma's strategy of sending the children trapped as puppets to retrieve Calibrus (Or, in his words, "into certain mewtilation") makes her just as bad as the tyrant.
  • Precision F-Strike: The characters say "damn" and "hell" at a few points.

Alternative Title(s): Puppeteer