Puppeteer

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VideoLive, er, stringing? Watch us play Puppeteer

Ian's a real boy from 5pm BST.

The next generation may be mere weeks away, but that hasn't stopped Sony kicking out even more exclusive games for PlayStation 3 (and won't, come to think of it - Gran Turismo 6 isn't out until December). The latest is Puppeteer, a whimsical platform game in which you control a small boy imprisoned on the moon and transformed into a puppet.

Puppeteer review

Puppeteer review

String theory.

Sometimes all it takes is one great idea. In that regard, Puppeteer, by Sony's Japan Studio, is off to a strong start. It has several great ideas. Sadly, it doesn't seem to know what to do with them.

It's the story of Kutaro, a small boy imprisoned on the Moon. He's transformed into a puppet and then loses his head. Luckily, as a wooden puppet, he can simply replace his head with a new one - but if he spends too long without a noggin, he's dead. Fortunately, he has help.

Enter idea number one: a secondary character - a floating cat in the first levels, replaced by a fairy-esque creature called Pikarina for the remainder of the game. This character is controlled with the right stick, or by a second player, and can interact with Puppeteer's busy backgrounds. Jiggling objects and prodding things shakes loose shiny moonsparkles - 100 of these grant an extra life, naturally - or a new head for Kutaro to wear.

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Killzone Mercenary open beta for PlayStation Plus subscribers today

PlayStation Plus subscribers can now join Vita shooter Killzone Mercenary's open beta.

The handheld FPS is due to launch in Europe in two weeks, but Plus members get early access to its online portion today.

A demo of PlayStation 3 platformer Puppeteer is also available to download today, again only for Plus subscribers.

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Digital FoundryTech Analysis: Puppeteer

Digital Foundry on how style, charm and tech combine in Sony Japan Studios' new platformer.

There was a time when the side-scrolling platformer was perhaps the most popular genre in gaming, and when the announcement of a new Sonic or Mario game was met with the same level of excitement that a new Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty elicits today. But with the transition to 3D gaming, the genre gradually slipped into decline, and despite a recent renaissance fuelled by indie developers, higher-budget retail platform games remain a relative rarity outside of Nintendo's stable.

The story behind Japan Studio's most personal project

Inside the family theatre of Puppeteer.

Sony has earned a reputation for its brilliant follies. Where else would you go to find a semi-interactive miserablist murder mystery like Heavy Rain, or a shagging and shopping simulator like Tokyo Jungle? Even in such esoteric company though, Puppeteer stands out as something truly daring; a side-scrolling platformer with a sizeable budget and a price-tag to match, it's an attempt to revive on a grand stage a genre that's only been kept alive this past generation in the hands of Nintendo and a scattering of indies. Who could this game possibly be for? It turns out that Puppeteer has been created for a very particular audience.

PS3 exclusive Puppeteer out in September for a budget price

PlayStation 3 exclusive Puppeteer launches in Europe on 11th September 2013, Sony has announced.

In Europe it has an official price of €39.99. A price for the UK hasn't been announced yet but expect it to cost between 25 and 30 quid.

Puppeteer is a platform/puzzle game developed by Sony's Tokyo-based Japan Studio. You play Kutaro, a young boy who loses his head in a strange, nightmarish world.

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SCEE releases Halloween trailers for Puppeteer, LittleBigPlanet Karting, Sly Cooper 4 and Until Dawn

SCEE has released Halloween-themed trailers for its following games: Puppeteer, Until Dawn, LittleBigPlanet Karting, and Sly Cooper: Thieves in Time.

The Puppeteer trailer seems the most Halloween-y in that it's clearly inspired by Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas, something its art director Gavin Moore freely admited on the PlayStation Blog.

Sly Cooper is well-suited to the holiday as well being that it stars a guy who literally appears to be wearing a mask even when he isn't. The shady devil!

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The Ever-Shifting Stages of PS3 Exclusive Puppeteer

The Ever-Shifting Stages of PS3 Exclusive Puppeteer

Tim Burton meets Japanese puppet theatre. Oh, and scissors.

In Puppeteer, you play a boy trapped in a wooden puppet without a head, fighting to escape a nightmarish world terrorised by a giant moon bear. Gavin Moore, the Brit leading development of the PlayStation 3 exclusive at Sony Japan Studio, admits it's a bit bonkers.

He calls it "quirky", "off-the-wall", "weird" and "strange", and it is. The game's unveiling during Sony's Gamescom press conference painted a dark picture of the 2D platformer: a curious Japan/UK culture clash that rekindles memories of Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam's signature work. But there's more to it than that. Watching the game being played pulls the curtain back on its neat ideas. All this focus on it being quirky and off-the-wall and weird and strange disguises this.

"I'm a really big fan of original 2D platformers," Moore says. "I love them. I think they're awesome. It's kind of a forgotten art. The only people who have really kept it alive are Nintendo. There's Rayman as well, but it's something we should definitely bring back full-scale."

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