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 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 @ nick at  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 * 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!

Cblogs of 11/27/15 - Life is Strange, and Sad

Top 5 Reasons Star Wars Battlefront KICKS ASS!

Attack of the Friday Monsters: A Little Slice of Childhood

Top 5 Reasons Call of Duty: Black Ops 3 IS AWESOME!

Cblogs of 11/26/15 + Combat Heropon-isms

Video games go mainstream

I’m Not a SJW, I’m an Anthropologist: Making the Case for Diversity in Games

Insidia REVIEW - A whole dark, gloomy, and kinda creepy world to explore

DS REVIEWS: Trace Memory

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Archelon avatarArchelon
Community Question: With all the controversy surrounding review scores, what do you personally consider a "bad" score versus a "good" score? Is there a game in particular that was panned by critics that you nevertheless enjoyed? Or vice versa?
TheVeganGamer avatarTheVeganGamer
Finally got around to playing Diablo 3 with some friends, holy smokes! That game is rad!
SpielerDad avatarSpielerDad
Public service announcement: Marry an orphan. It makes the holidays so much easier when you don't have to deal with pain in the ass in-laws.
Nekrosys avatarNekrosys
So... how long is it until we get the inevitable Colonial Marines or Ride to Hell: Retribution PS4/Xbox One re-releases?
SeymourDuncan17 avatarSeymourDuncan17
Screw Bloodborne. I finally managed to overcome not tearing up while listening to the entirety of Never More. Git gud! [youtube][/youtube]
NYCpunk avatarNYCpunk
you know what's not okay? scalpers with 10 copies of fire emblem fates SE on ebay for $200+. and no one is saying anything.
ChrisHannard avatarChrisHannard
Fallout 4 wouldn't be Fallout with ridiculous glitches and shenanigans. Here are a few I've run into - [youtube][/youtube]
StriderHoang avatarStriderHoang
I've never earnestly went drinking before so it's cool to know I'm the slow, sleepy, impaired type.
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
Got to admit I didn't expect to find a mewtwo amiibo at my bookstore of all places...
Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
My cousin found out I slept with his girlfriend and is pissed. Understandable. I am totally sick of the angry phone calls though. It reminds me so much of playing Call of Duty online. The screaming 11 year olds suck on there too.
OverlordZetta avatarOverlordZetta
Huh. Apparently even Japan has a Black Friday sale going on on PSN right now.
Lawman avatarLawman
Yes, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I know that somebody has 2,625 more medallions than me. No, Resident Evil: Revelations 2, I don't really care.
Dr Mel avatarDr Mel
This fucking Bloodborne DLC, jesus. I'm on new game+, about level 90, and shit just tears my dick off. I don't know if I want to start another guy just to avoid NG+ and level him up, etc. sigh....
Shinta avatarShinta
Wii U, top selling black friday item on Take that you anti-Wii U people.
CoilWhine avatarCoilWhine
I am pretty hyped for when I get a laptop because I'll be able to have a good enough connection to stream XbOne/soon PS4 games to it along with natively rendered Steam games. Hype!
Avoclefo avatarAvoclefo
Got a PS4 that came with SW Battlefront this week, and planning on picking up the FFX/X-2 remake. Hype is through the roof, especially for FFX. If I were to get one other game, what should it be?
Niero Desu avatarNiero Desu
Did a google maps search around my parents house for bars and there isn't one in like 25 miles, so I picked up an Intel compute stick and South Park: Stick of Truth on Steam. That's more or less the drunken screaming I'm in the mood for at about the cost.
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
Do you ever have that moment of clarity when talking to someone and suddenly realising: You're just a skull, and they're just a skull, with fucking eyeballs and a sac of skin being the only comparative difference between you visually? ..just me then?
Nathan D avatarNathan D
After quitting for two days out of frustration, I beat Ludwig on my first try of the night. I'm on cloud fucking nine right now.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
When I did my retail shift today, we were moving more Smash/Splat Wii U bundles and the Gears/Rare Replay/Ori XB1 bundles than Uncharted and Battlefront PS4s. I think Nintendo and MS have better value on their side this holiday. Sony got lazy.
more quickposts



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 -