Game Review: The Gunstringer
Release: September 13, 2011
Developer: Twisted Pixel
Available Platforms: Xbox 360 Kinect
ESRB Rating: Teen
Website: The Gunstringer.com
Hey 360 owners, it’s time to stand up and dust off your Kinect; and perhaps, move the coffee table. Twisted Pixel studios has brought us ‘The Gunstringer,’ an awesome exclusive for your Kinect that is sure to put a smile on your face, no matter how old you are. In The Gunstringer, you take on the role of both the Gunstringer, as he runs through a variety of levels, shooting and blasting everything in his path with his trusty six shooter, as well as the puppeteer who’s controlling him. But of course, since you are such a renowned puppet master, you will be performing your play before a live audience. Overall, this game is brilliantly creative, lighthearted, and a lot of fun to play. But is it truly worth your time and money? To answer that, we will need to delve a bit deeper.
Story is hardly the primary focus in this game, but it does exist on a level that Shigeru Miyamoto should be able to understand and approve of. You are the reanimated skeleton of a nameless Texas cowboy known as, you guessed it, The Gunstringer. In life, the posse you ran with shot you in the back and left you buried under the dirt to rot. In death, you are pissed and out for, you guessed it, revenge on your old posse. The game is then broken up into four ‘Acts,’ just like in a play, in which you make your way through four levels in order to confront the final boss of each act. Boss fights take place from the audience’s perspective, and it’s actually a lot of fun to watch the silhouettes of the crowd dynamically cheer you on, giving each other high five’s and clapping, or to listen to them boo and turn their thumbs down or throw up their hands whenever the boss lands a hit against you.
This game is a love note to anyone who used to play with toys as a child, much like Toy Story, because it just makes that little wide eyed five year old inside you come alive again, if only for the briefest of moments. Remember that this game is meant to be a real life play, and the environments are crafted beautifully to represent this. As you run through each level, you will be seeing a number of humorous and creative creations, including: cardboard tube trees, beer can cows (as in ‘moo’), stikfas ninjas and samurai, underwater mines made from tennis balls and thumbtacks, plus every manner of cardboard cut out building you can imagine. I would have loved to play this as a kid… oh wait, I still am one.
Aside from finally fulfilling my childhood fantasy of using two guns at once in an arcade style shoot em’ up game, the thing that impressed me the most about The Gunstringer was the amount of variety that the guys at Twisted Pixel were able to cram into the game. Aside from the somewhat ‘traditional’ gameplay where you are controlling the Gunstringer with your left hand and shooting with your right, you will also be soaring through the sky on top of a bottle rocket as you take on a dragon, riding and shooting from horseback, scrolling through 2D jumper sections, serving some shotgun salad to zombies, and even slicing up ninjas with a William Wallace sword! I really enjoyed the soundtrack all throughout the game, and also think that the addition of the real life audience was a great idea. The merging of gameplay graphics with real life video was done very well and reminded me of one of the most epic movie in the universe: ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’
My only real complaints with this game -and the reasons it will be falling short of a nine- have to do with the somewhat simplistic structure of the overall game, meaning that it is a completely linear and ‘on rails’ type of experience (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing to some gamers), and the inherent lack of precision in the controls that seems to go along with every Kinect game or feature I have ever tried. I’m not going to shovel lies to you, the Kinect is hardly my gaming peripheral of choice. It can be frustrating to use, inconsistent, and will never fall into the category of ‘precision gaming.’ It’s what turns a lot of gamers off, and you can’t expect Twisted Pixel to have fixed these inherent problems, but they have most certainly done a better job of working with them than anyone else in the past. But lets be honest here, you weren’t looking to play The Gunstringer to ‘pwn noobs,’ you play it to have fun. And fun it is.
In closing, I think this is a great game, and would highly recommend it to anyone who owns a Kinect or is looking to try something different (would also make a nice Christmas present for the kiddies). It’s also a great game to play when one or two friends are over, plus the co-op isn’t bad either. If I were comparing this game solely with the other Kinect games on the market, I would have given it a full ten, but it also stands up well against the masses. The game’s five to six hour campaign is a blast to play through and possess some high replay value. There is even a hardcore mode for the braver souls among you. It’s a good thing.
+ Creative and fun environments and settings
+ Fun gameplay, good amount of variety
+ Good replay value, fun co-op
– On rails, linear gameplay
– Kinect controls are never precise.
Final Score: 8/10