Note: iOS 9 + Facebook users w/ trouble scrolling: #super sorry# we hope to fix it asap. In the meantime Chrome Mobile is a reach around
hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

The Gunstringer

Review: The Gunstringer

11:15 AM on 09.13.2011 // Nick Chester

A skeleton cowboy marionette driven by revenge. Troma's Lloyd Kaufman driving dangerously. A beautiful, unlockable picture of our own Hamza Aziz. A gator that has sex with a lumberjack. Wait, hold on... what now? 

Yup, this is definitely a Twisted Pixel game. Welcome to The Gunstringer, easily one of the most fun and original titles for Kinect. 

The Gunstriner (Xbox 360)
Developer: Twisted Pixel
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release date: September 13, 2011
Price: $39.99

With The Gunstringer, Twisted Pixel have woven together story and gameplay in a way no Kinect game developer has been able to do to date. It's a clever setup: you control The Gunstringer’s marionette with one hand, moving him through a stageplay as an audience -- hilariously captured as live-action video -- watches on. Using your other hand, you'll control an on-screen six-shooter reticule, taking aim to "paint" up to six targets. Pulling your arm up to your shoulder (the motion it would make in response to firearm recoil) lets loose a barrage of bullets.
 
Being an “on-rails shooter,” you won’t have to move The Gunstringer in a 3D space. Instead, Twisted Pixel guides you forward through the experience, and you’re tasked with moving moving The Gunstringer left and right, and in some cases up, down, and jerking your hand upwards to make him jump. Between articulating The Gunstringer's movements with one hand, and aiming and firing with another, things can surely get tricky. During some of the more demanding sections of the game, it gets a bit like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time.

Fortunately, the Kinect sensor does a good job of keeping up with your actions, which makes playing The Gunstringer both fun and satisfying. The gimmick of moving a puppet back and forth with your hand clicks quickly, as your brain is fast to make sense of the natural action. The “paint and shoot” mechanic also works extremely well, not entirely dissimilar to Q-Entertainment’s shot at Kinect, Child of Eden. Really, it’s not a control scheme that couldn’t have been mapped to a controller; The Gunstringer often feels like parts of Twisted Pixel’s controller-based Comic Jumper. Admittedly, though, the controller-free experience gives the game an entirely different, fun, and welcome feel. That rubbing-your-belly-and-patting-your-head feeling I mentioned earlier goes a long way towards adding a layer of depth and challenge to the experience that you might not get with traditional controls.

It doesn’t come without a trade-off, though. While I’m still surprised by the accuracy of the Kinect sensor, and its tracking is mostly on point, it’s certainly not perfect. The “floaty” feel and small disconnect between your hands and on-screen actions is present, as it is with many Kinect games that try to match one-to-one tracking. This becomes really obvious when you’re required to quickly move The Gunstringer away from an obstacle, or gently guide him through a maze of booby traps with minor motions. It never becomes frustrating to the point of completely eliminating fun from the equation, but I ran into more than a few situations than I would have liked where I was blaming my failures on the hardware.

Great news about The Gunstringer is that it has an “Activity level” of “sitting-standing.” What this means is that compared to something like Ubisoft’s Your Shape: Fitness Evolved (which has an activity level of “bust your fat ass”), don’t expect to break a sweat playing The Gunstringer. While keeping your arms raised to move the puppet and fire your guns can get exhausting during a marathon session (e.g., when you have to review it and meet a deadline), any human gameplay session shouldn’t leave you wanting to take a nap. Unfortunately, while the game advertises “sitting” gameplay, I didn’t have much luck in that department. It worked, with the game recognizing that I was in front of the television and trying to play, but I found that the accuracy took a hit. Your mileage may vary depending on your setup (and maybe your height, how tall your seat is, etc.), but I ended up playing the entire game on my feet.

As with most Twisted Pixel games, there’s a ton of content here, including a handful of story-based chapters and the developer’s usual heap of unlockable content. The content is generally unlocked using cash earned for your in-game performance, so you’re encouraged to head back into levels you’ve previously completed to beef up your performance. (Bonus: there’s a photo of Destructoid’s own Hamza Aziz to purchase; sorry, he’s wearing clothes.) While you could probably blow through all of the main content in a few hours, these extras (as well as a tough-as-nails “hardcore” mode) kept me invested for quite a bit longer. You can even play the game cooperatively, which could add another set of playthroughs if you’re lucky enough to have friends who like being with you.

One glance at any of the game’s key art would probably be a dead giveaway that Twisted Pixel’s trademark sense of irreverent humor marks The Gunstringer’s writing, visuals, and sound. The game’s tutorial level features a skeleton cowboy puppet who shoots up an inflatable wavy tube man. Later, you face off against a creature that’s a result of sexual relations between a lumberjack and an alligator. I’m going to stop there, but you get where I’m going. Once again, Twisted Pixel manges to create a completely fresh set of likable, original characters, which is refreshing in a medium where gruff voices, wide shoulders, and fist-bumping machismo is the norm. Admittedly, some of the humor in The Gunstringer misses its mark, but all will be forgiven when you lay eyes on the game’s jaw-dropping live-action conclusion.

The Gunstringer is a great example of what talented developers can do with Microsoft’s Kinect technology when they think creatively. Sure, it’s easy enough to mimic what others have been doing with motion controls for years. And to be fair, The Gunstringer doesn’t do all that much that couldn’t have been done with the Wii’s or PlayStation 3’s motion controls. But Twisted Pixel’s original characters and oddball sense of humor -- married with enjoyable gameplay -- add up to a special gameplay experience that’s worth your time if you own a Kinect.

P.S. New copies of The Gunstringer come with a code to download Fruit Ninja Kinect. That game is also awesome.



THE VERDICT

8

The Gunstringer - Reviewed by Nick Chester
Charming - Not perfect, but it's easy to ignore the rough spots when faced with so many engaging design decisions and entertaining moments. A memorable game that's hard not to like and recommend to others.

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Nick Chester, Former Editor-in-Chief (2011)
 Follow Blog + disclosure Tips
Editor-in-Chief @ Destructoid.com nick at destructoid.com  more   |   staff directory



 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community fisters, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding *.disqus.com to your whitelists.

destructoid's previous coverage:
The Gunstringer


View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:



Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Emily Wants To Play has come to mobile (and I wish it would go away again)

Six Reasons Why YOU Should Buy Soul Sacrifice Delta For $8!

Mega Man X Drinking Game: The Super Smashed Bros

Video Gaming Bits -- Rampage: Total Destruction

Roses are black, PS4 lights are blue; This is a game, and it has valkyries too?

Cblogs of 02/10/16 and WONDER-isms

Modern face of survival horror

Discussion Discussion on Games

PStoid Episode 38: Doomed from the Box Art

Cblogs of 2/9/16 - Only Slightly Late Edition

 Add your impressions

 Quickposts
Status updates from C-bloggers

Alphadeus avatarAlphadeus
Love, Lost, Live, Lost (2014) - Yesterday was me and my girlfriend's 16th year anniversary together, so I decided to share this song. It deals with being in love, losing that person, moving on, and learning to love again. It's 9 minutes long, too :P
gajknight avatargajknight
I have done my part. Thank you Niero. Question: Does blocking someone also remove their front-page articles too?
iam16bit avatariam16bit
I've been on this site for sometime and for some reason I've never done a quickpost until now.
TheKodu avatarTheKodu
So I'm hearing the UN called Japan in to discus "Banning the sale of video games or cartoons involving sexual violence against women " Which by Anita's standards = any Violence able to be done. Japan sent a 40 page long NO back to the UN in reply.
Amna Umen avatarAmna Umen
Why did I have to read that Austin Grossman was going to be one of the writers on a cancelled Half-Life 2 episode?
Parismio avatarParismio
Dammit its 3 and i cant stop reading cute gay romance mangas.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Going to be honest; I love out-of-context anime screenshots. They're... kind of incredible.
Jed Whitaker avatarJed Whitaker
Retweet of the year goes to President of Worldwide Studios, Sony Computer Entertainment, Inc., Shuhei Yoshida.
Voodoome avatarVoodoome
Just got home from Deadpool and ... it's not good. I liked the jabs at Green Lantern and the previous movie Deadpool, but that was about it. The rest was just painfully forced dick jokes. Wife fell asleep.
Nathan D avatarNathan D
Larxinostic rule34
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Looks like I'm not gonna be able to 100% Tearaway Unfolded until Monday at the least. I'm definitely writing about it this weekend and am trying my hardest to get my screenshots off of my PS4 (especially hard as I don't do social media anymore)
Darth Wachen avatarDarth Wachen
I've never done a blog before, so I may as well try one with a review of Stranger of Sword City....well, when I get entered into that contest of course
ikiryou avatarikiryou
Shakedown Hawaii is giving me good GTA vibes. I missed the topdown GTA games when they were a thing. I have to decide what platform to get it for since it's coming to 3DS/Vita/PS4/PC (probably the Vita version for moi).
TheBlondeBass avatarTheBlondeBass
You think your art sucks? Here's the rule34 I made of Larx yesterday. Look at it and despair.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
Hey Dreamweaver? If you think your art sucks, you should have a look at my magnum opus. It's of Cloud from the popular game, Final Fantasy: All the Bravest.
Agent9 avatarAgent9
I never thought this would happen, but here I am. all of my 700+ pokemon gone in one day. My cart stopped working and there's nothing I can do. I quit, you can't just rebuild all that. Time to find something else.
taterchimp avatartaterchimp
Tom Collins is a pretty great drink, and well suited for poutine. consumption
Solar Pony Django avatarSolar Pony Django
It may be because I've been drinking but... We need some dung beetles from ark for the front page. Move that dung on out.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
Does anyone know how to get PS4 screenshots onto a PC without needing a flash drive? I don't have a spare.
Dreamweaver avatarDreamweaver
This is an example of how bad my drawings are. I honestly think drawing stick figures would've been easier on the eyes. :( The worst thing about this image is that this was made after I got BETTER. Trust me, you don't want to see my earlier stuff. T^T
more quickposts


Contest!


Seriously

Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme


Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo



Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -