Dolls and Games

You’re fighting in the streets against soldiers who look like tricked out sci-fi Cobra troopers. There’s you, the guy in the duster, and the blond kid with the kung fu.

It’s the duster guy who piques your interest; his sword is pretty cool.

But what really sells you is when you summon a giant fire demon thing that levitates a flaming ball of rock and then spikes it onto your foes like a volleyball. Roar, boom. It’s awesome.

You’re in EB Games, and within a month, you’ll have traded in your beloved Genesis for a Playstation and Final Fantasy 8. You keep a few Sega games for the Nomad, but that’s an unreliable system. For the most part, it’s goodbye Sonic, hello kids with guns.

Guns that are also swords.

Years later, you will realize this was the lamest first step to maturity ever. Then you’ll go on a brief Genesis kick before hooking up the Playstation again.

You’ll mostly play Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and that Japanese Hokuto no Ken game Ken burned you. You never really get around to playing Final Fantasy 8 again.

Which is probably good, since it took you something like three tries to beat it the first time, starting from scratch each time as you lost interest and lost the plot.

You need a villain for this thing. It’s a fantasy-ish thing; there’s swords and magic and so on. But you could really care less about following the rules of the genre, and you fucking hate elves, so it’s a very fast and loose fantasy story. Which makes sense, since your reference point for questy things are RPGs, and all roads eventually lead back to FF8.

As such you’re thinking female villain, kind of ornate, maybe a little creepy, maybe a little hot.

You end up picking creepy over hot when you find the picture.

The puppet looks like an Amano drawing, for one thing. It’s very FF9, which you dug.

(You never played 7, and you lent X to a high school crush and didn’t get it back until graduation. Not that you particularly cared, and there was a nice note inside.)

You’re also struck by the way it’s not actually looking at you. In your head, you can almost see the Ultimate Attack: the puppet finally looks at the heroes, with some kind of basilisk death stare. Status effects all around; the FAQs will tell you to prep for it, and doing so will mean you can win in a single round afterwards.

The puppet looks strangely big, so strangely big it’ll be in the game.

It’s spooky, so you think maybe it’s some sort of undead puppet magician. An immortal of some kind. Never dying, perpetual…

Puppetua. The name fits all your criteria: it’s a pun and it sounds cool. It needs something else to it, a title…Puppetua the Something, because you’re letting the genre demand it.

Puppetua the Unliving. Puppetua the Everliving. No, one of those is cribbed from Mum-Ra, you think.

Puppetua the Endless Doll.

At some point before you actually buy the game, you go out and buy all the toys. They barely move, and you don’t know who the characters are at all, but you spend hours making up their stories based purely on their designs.

You will be disappointed to find out that Siefer and Quistis aren’t evil twins, like Fenris from Marvel. That Irvine and Laguna aren’t gunslinging rivals, and Laguna’s not the leader of a happy-go-lucky Robin Hood gang made up of him, Zell, and Selphie.

You still have Zell and Selphie lying around somewhere in your closet.

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Josh Hechinger is a future writing superstar/cautionary tale. He lives in Pennsylvania.

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