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)
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.
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.
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 VERDICT - The Gunstringer
Reviewed by Nick Chester
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