Heads or tales?
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, take your seats for tonight's gala performance of Puppeteer. Prepare to be intrigued, dazzled and amazed, for this is the story of a young boy's perilous journey to find not only the way home, but his own head.
You see, Kutaro, our unfortunate hero, has fallen victim to the dastardly Moon Bear King, a hulking, sulking tyrant who loves nothing more than snatching poor Earth children, transforming them into puppets and chomping on their heads for supper.
The menacing monarch's iron-clawed grip tightens around the Moon Realm with every soul he captures. Few have dared to stand up in defiance, and of those foolhardy enough to try, nothing has ever been seen again.
But, ladies and gentlemen, tonight could yet be different. Kutaro is a plucky little fellow, and he may just have discovered how to battle past the Moon Bear King's 12 fiercest generals and the repugnant ruler himself.
Now settle back and enjoy the show on PlayStation 3. Welcome to the theatre of the strange and fantastic.
All the world's a stage
The house lights go down and the curtains part. Candlelight flickers amid the shadows of the Moon Bear King's castle and the scene is set. As the eerie fairy tale of Puppeteer gets under way on stage, you'll quickly realise this is a game reminiscent of a classic children's picture book, with each set change being just like a new page.
Kutaro bounds and leaps through each level – or Act – of Puppeteer, and as he bursts into new areas, intricate, hand-painted backdrops slide into place behind him. So whether our pint-sized wanderer is tiptoeing through an enchanted wood or whizzing through the air to avoid foot soldiers known as Grubs, you can soak up the magical Moon Realm without ever leaving the stage.
Add an extra dimension to Puppeteer by playing in stereoscopic 3D; you'll almost feel the curtains flapping to the stage's sides with a compatible TV. And with an entrancing soundtrack from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire composer Patrick Doyle adding a dash of Hollywood drama, this is a show that'll grip you from start to end and back again.
Meet the cast
A stage production is nothing without its stars, and Puppeteer's deliver some unforgettable performances. Put your hands together for...
Kutaro: Some panic like headless chickens after their encounter with the Moon Bear King, but Kutaro is truly unflappable. Despite being kidnapped and turned into a puppet, Kutaro's determination to defeat the guardians of the Moon Realm will launch him on an extraordinary adventure.
The Moon Bear King: Since defeating the Moon Goddess and snatching her kingdom for himself, the Moon Bear King has made his presence felt throughout the land. Alas, for the worse: he throws royal temper tantrums rather than garden parties.
Ying Yang: This world-weary moggy has seen it all, and after his loyal service to the Moon Goddess was rudely interrupted, he'd rather not see anything more. Understandably he'd rather curl up at the back of the castle kitchen than accompany Kutaro, but needs must.
Ezma Potts: Cranky yet crafty, the witch who keeps the Moon Bear King's next meals imprisoned in her kitchen seems to have her own motives for helping Kutaro escape...
Fearsome spirits known as Weavers and the souls of stolen children roam the Moon Realm. Kutaro himself is made of wood and varnish and is far away from home. Things look bleak, and it's up to you to help our hopeful runaway reach the ends of the moon to escape.
Luckily, there are two very special differences between Kutaro's fate and that of the victims before him. First, Calibrus, the Moon Bear King's pair of treasured, magical scissors which lets Kutaro snip through enemies. Having pinched Calibrus from the king, Kutaro will discover its true power as the show rolls on.
And the second advantage? Replacement puppet heads that are scattered throughout the kingdom. Up to three can be carried at once, and there are more than 100 to discover, each with a special power that'll come in handy at certain points. For instance, if you spot an image of the Skull head, equip it and tap the down directional button to unlock a secret bonus.
Throughout it all, Ying Yang will float by Kutaro's side to hunt for valuable items and generally moan at his lot in life. Control Ying Yang yourself by using the right stick, or, for a far happier sidekick, get a friend to join you with a second wireless controller or a PlayStation Move motion controller. After all, why keep a tale this good to yourself?