Puppet Walkers

        Today I’ll be talking about the enemies from Naruto: Uzumaki Chronicles 2. Unlike the vast majority of games based on the Naruto anime, this game came up with its own original plot and villains, instead of simply rehashing the anime. Not that I mind going through the anime in an interactive fashion, but there is certainly something to be said for trying something new. It also means you don’t have to worry about anime spoilers, though there will be spoilers for the game here. You’ve been warned.
        So, the enemies. To explain them I first have to give you a bit of information on the plot. The Land of Fire where our protagonists live is under attack by some unknown force that is searching for something, burning down villages and attacking people in the process, and their attack force seems to entirely consist of puppets.
        To clarify, puppets in Naruto are generally human-sized constructs controlled like a regular puppet, except they are stuffed full of weapons and used for battle. It might have compartments for hidden blades, or poison gas, whatever devious weapon the maker can think of, really. Their flaw is that they must be controlled by their nearby master, and taking them out removes the threat entirely.
        These ‘Puppet Walkers’ in the game, on the other hand, seem to function closer to some sort of primitive AI. They can be given orders to carry out without being directly controlled, allowing hundreds of them to be used at once and removing the weakness I mentioned. Exactly how they’re made is unclear, but it apparently involved human experiments, which conveniently also explains why these were never used by other groups or outside this one game. It also lets them be used as cannon fodder for the protagonists to fight.
        They come in several mass-produced varieties; a standard humanoid one with long claws that come in droves, a stockier one with cannons for arms that fires electric orbs, basically acting as their long-range specialists, and a fast and skinny one with a large red orb on its back. Despite what you might think, the ‘kamikaze’ puppet doesn’t explode, but rather pounces on you while on fire, which doesn’t seem to hurt it at all. I’d prefer if it exploded.
        However, when comparing them to regular puppets, they seem to be less durable in general(Though in the late game they are annoyingly resilient.) and have less weapons. The three I described above lack no details as to their weaponry- that’s all they have. The bare essentials of combat, really- close range, long range, and a way to set your enemies on fire. Nevertheless, their ability to fight on their own and dogged persistence in doing so make them dangerous enemies regardless.
        As for why they lack such weapons and defenses, I speculate it is because they are mass produced. The less work goes into each one, the faster they can be made. Plus, they don’t seem quite as intelligent as humans, only capable of certain tasks. So giving them a lot of ways to attack may not work due to it being unable to understand how to use them.
        While the latter two designs seem to be made exclusively for combat, looking at the first type, it seems they have another purpose as well. Even if they have giant claws, they are the most human-like of the bunch, and seem to be wearing pants for some reason. It was confusing when I first played, but in hindsight, I think the idea is that they appear human from a distance, allowing them to close in on targets. From a distance they might appear to be, say, a bare-chested man or something like that. Having some semblance of clothing certainly helps in that case.
        Now that I have covered the minions, let’s talk about their masters. The Puppet Walkers were invented by the Shirogane Clan, who used them to aid the Land of Wind doing the wars that once took place, but by the time of the game they had been wiped out. Apparently their allies didn’t like the idea of puppet monsters that act on their own, made from human experiments. It doesn’t say why said experimentation was needed, but you can see why their allies wouldn’t like it.
        Now three remaining members of the clan are looking for what they call Spirit Orbs. These five orbs are spread across the five lands, but by the time the game starts they have all but the one in the Land of Fire. They’re attacking villages because they think someone might have it, or at least know where it is. No one does, so they have to start looking the hard way. Though the protagonists try their best, the Shirogane Three do eventually succeed, and kidnap Sakura while they are at it.
        They want the orbs because once all five are gathered they can unleash their clan’s ultimate weapon, the Master Puppet. It is a puppet of such incredible power that it could destroy all five nations. They want it so they can use it as blackmail- give us what we want and we won’t kill you.
        In any case, Sakura manages to leave a clue as to their whereabouts, bringing Naruto to their door. By this final stage, two of the trio have been defeated, leaving only their leader Ibushi. He has Sakura attached to a chakra extraction machine to send her energy to the Spirit Orb, and once it is full, all it will take is a simple ritual to unleash the Master Puppet. Kakashi asks him why he’s actually doing this- if he were trying to blackmail, he has pretty much everything he needs. It’s rather like any weapon of mass destruction- you don’t need it so much as you need the threat of it.
        Ibushi replies that the blackmail idea was simply a lie he told his followers because they “could never grasp the truth. My real purpose is…” He gets that far before he suddenly pauses, wondering why he is doing all this in the first place. He then grabs his head, moaning, before suddenly saying that he doesn’t need a purpose for what he does, and sends out his giant puppet to do battle.
        I forgot to mention, but yes, these three all use puppets to fight, though given they can be used at very long distances, they are likely Puppet Walkers as well, just directly controlled ones. In the case of all three their puppets are larger than the protagonists and do not flinch from attacks.
        Regardless, the puppet is defeated, and Ibushi resorts to threatening Sakura‘s life. Naruto then offers himself in her place, figuring that since he has far more chakra than most, he would survive the machine, whereas Sakura would not. This proves correct, and Ibushi soon flees the scene to start the ritual.
        Kakashi manages to kill Ibushi before the ritual can be finished, but suddenly Naruto moves in to finish it himself! Speaking in a deeper, older voice that is clearly not his own, he warns the others not to interfere, and Kakashi puts the pieces together; Naruto is being controlled by the will of the Master Puppet.
        The Puppet concurs and reveals that it was created as the ultimate weapon of the Shirogane Clan, and that its sentience was an unexpected side-effect of its creation. It makes sense if you think about it- if regular Walkers are supposed to be smart enough to carry out certain tasks, then a far more powerful and greater one would logically be made smarter, unfortunately too smart. Its creators feared that it would turn on them and sealed it away within the Spirit Orbs. The clan was destroyed and when their descendants started looking for the Spirit Orbs, not knowing the truth of the Master Puppet, it took control of Ibushi, using them all as puppets to revive itself.
        Calling them puppets isn’t ironic metaphor, really. When referring to Ibushi the Puppet stated “He was a useful tool… But broken, he is useless”. In other words, though the Master Puppet was made as a tool itself, it sees the descendants of its makers and anyone else it can use as mere tools. Now that he is ‘broken’, he doesn’t matter.
        In fact, being a puppet, it may be that it doesn’t understand concepts such as allies or betrayal. All it is really aware of is that it has a purpose, apparently to destroy the Shirogane’s enemies, and it will use any ‘tool’ it can to accomplish this, making it a bizarre magical version of the ‘robot destroys its makers/owners due to programming’ concept, like with HAL 9000.
        Regardless of how it thinks, the Master Puppet successfully revives itself despite the others stopping Naruto, and quickly proves why it was regarded as the ultimate weapon via a classic Hopeless Boss Fight. Namely, the others cannot harm it at all, but it can certainly harm them. After the player survives this, it incapacitates Kakashi and two of Naruto’s friends come in to help, using their abilities to figure out how to harm the puppet, leading to the Spirit Orbs scattering around the room.
At this point it changes from a impossible fight into one of striking certain things to make it vulnerable. As an added touch, each Orb corresponds to one of the Puppet’s attacks. Deactivate the green Orb, for instance, and it won’t be able to swing its sword at you, as demonstrated by the sword hand not glowing anymore. Once all five are taken down, the Puppet itself collapses and it can be harmed, leaving you a short window of opportunity.
        Of course, it won’t just let you do that, and demonstrates many abilities that back up the boasts that it could destroy everything. Fiery shockwaves, lightning strikes, floating explosive orbs, and a massive sword. It will also spit out mines occasionally to try and deter you, a trait one might expect in a more normal Naruto puppet.
        Once enough damage is done, the Orbs stop reactivating entirely, and the Puppet’s head rotates to signify it is changing tactics. Now it seems to primarily use its own machinery and weaponry rather than supernatural powers, such as spitting out flash bombs, spinning to knock the player away, and a few odder tricks that apparently don’t come from the orbs, such as summoning rock pillars by slamming the ground, conjuring up drills around it for defense, and switching to another head that resembles a dragon to suck in air, then fire out an enormous black laser.
        His last and most powerful attack is sending out a wave along the floor, showing some kind of magic symbols. It will radiate out almost to the back of the arena, which is your safe spot. If you’re standing on it, it will start a instant death attack where pieces of the Puppet fly at you. Luckily, you have three characters and items can revive them, but nevertheless, it give the impression to me that before, it was using grandiose attacks and not relying on its other powers because it sees the protagonists as beneath it, not worthy of its full power.
        It certainly has reason for that view, with all its power, and is very difficult to beat, because aside from what I said, once you deplete its health, it will blast you away with a barrier from its final orb in its core, and recovers all of its health. But as doggedly persistent as it is, it will eventually succumb to the player of course, and when it does, it actually doesn’t even acknowledge its own defeat, merely saying “I … am… immortal… I am… invincible…” before it collapses, lifeless.
        No, it doesn’t come back to life. It doesn’t return in a sequel either, despite what such sayings may lead you to think. It is simply in denial. And again, with all its power and its purpose as a weapon of destruction, why wouldn’t it think itself unstoppable?
        It had one purpose, to wreak havoc and destruction upon the land and the idea of it being stopped certainly wouldn‘t cross its mind, if it was even capable of conceiving of the notion in the first place. I think it to be less blind pride and arrogance, but rather simply following its objectives and not being able to process failure. Much like the lesser Puppet Walkers that attack the player throughout the game, it was given an objective, and with its intelligence it would move heaven and earth to see it done.

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