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Japan Studio's Puppeteer isn't just for kids

Bags Hooper

Don't let the whimsical art style fool you. Puppeteer from Sony's Japan Studio isn't a game designed solely for children. The 2D game balances platforming with other unique problem solving challenges, both of which are just as addicting for adults. You may find yourself using a hamburger as a trampoline or trying to keep your puppet, Kutaro, out of a sizzling frying pan.

"It's not necessarily for kids," Tsubasa Inaba, Producer at SCEA, told Joystiq at a Sony showcase in New York. "The minute you design a game that appears to be for kids, the kids are turned off by it."

Gallery: Puppeteer (PS3) | 10 Photos

Puppeteer centers on Kutaro, a boy who is transformed into a wooden puppet. When he upsets the Moon Bear King, the ominous deity rips Kutaro's head off, swallows it and throws Kutaro into the dungeon.

The first chapter feels like a journey through Alice in Wonderland. You control the now headless Kutaro as he jumps across giant teapots and kitchen fires. However, instead of a cartoony adventure, Kutaro is navigating his way through a theatre set that is constantly in flux. As soon as you make it past one puzzle, a new stage drops down to change the environment. It's a puppet theatre that feels as though it was ripped out of a Tim Burton nightmare. Inaba said that while the first chapter of this adventure is darkly themed, some of the later stages are more "colorful."

Most of the first chapter's puzzles focused on getting me acquainted with the game's puzzle mechanics. Kutaro can collect up to three heads, each of which has a special ability. There's a spider head that allows Kutaro to access a bonus stage, much like a warp zone in Super Mario Bros. He also had a hamburger head, which helped him turn a giant burger into a trampoline.

In one situation, I had to use a scissor to make one straight slice through several different sets of spider webs. It's a game of taking the shortest route to cut from point A to point B. If you take a longer route, the spider web will grow back in the area that you just cut.

Although the puzzles increase in difficulty, they likely won't become too vexing. Inaba said that Sony Producer Gavin Moore of Japan Studio wanted a game that he could play with his son. However, he states that the story's sarcasm and jokes will go over the heads of younger children.

Bags Hooper is a writer based out of Brooklyn, New York. He has contributed to multiple outlets, including BuzzFocus, USA Network, Showtime's Pop Tudors, Monsters & Critics and FHM. You can follow him on Twitter at @BagsHooper.

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