Michael Leparc On September 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm

The Gun Stringer ScreenshotThe Gunstringer has certainly had an interesting life, and by that I mean both the game and its starring character. Originally destined for XBLA, like Twisted Pixel’s previous breakout success, ‘Splosion Man, the title was expanded into something hopefully worthy of a $40 disc release. To further sweeten the deal and persuade skeptics, the Kinect port of the mobile smash hit Fruit Ninja was included (review forthcoming). Whether it results in commercial success remains to be seen, but this package delivers exactly what you could expect for the price, and might even surpass it. What this game promises is the one of the few real action game experiences you can have with Kinect.

The game starts with what is as far as I can tell an original premise which allows for a lot of creative and humorous license. The Gunstringer is a colorful yet fierce looking marionette of a skeletal cowboy, brought back from the dead to ride a trail of vengeance to payback those who had done him wrong. The cast of villains ranges from a wavy tube man of the sort you’d find outside a strip mall to an oil baron who is literally an oil barrel himself. You are the Gunstringer’s puppeteer, controlling his movement with your left hand while firing his revolver with the right. In a way, it merely duplicates the dual analog sticks of your controller, but the motion control element combined with the premise actually draws you into the role better than pretending you are the character himself.

Typical gameplay in The Gunstringer actually reminds me a bit of Red Dead Redemption’s “Dead Eye” mode. For those who aren’t familiar with it, the idea is that you paint a series of targets with your reticule using your right hand. Then when you’ve lined anywhere up to six shots, a flick of the wrist upwards fires your weapon. Sony “VP” Kevin Butler may have mocked this control scheme in a Playstation Move ad, but at least in this whimsical styled game it is particularly satisfying and appropriate. Your left hand meanwhile controls the marionette’s movement, either left or right to dodge obstacles or move out from cover, or straight up to cause him to jump. Now if it were all shootouts this would get a bit tiresome, but fortunately Twisted Pixel saw fit to mix things up with punching sequences, chase scenes, hilarious boss fights, and dual wielding, automatic fire stretches of action that center around patterns of enemy attacks. There’s also segments where you get to break out a shotgun or flamethrower for when you’re tired of revolver play. It all blends together to keep you on your toes and makes for a wonderful action game experience on par with anything you might play with a controller, albeit a bit more linear (then again most shooters nowadays are practically on rails as much as this game). As you might imagine there can be flakiness in the controls at times but the game is forgiving and even works while seated. An added bonus is the inclusion of co-op, a second player can wave themselves in and help you out. Performances are graded, cash is earned and can be used for rewards and unlocks, including a harder mode, so there is replay value as well.

What probably betrays the game’s XBLA roots the most is its graphics, which are only slightly above the fare you’d find Twisted Pixel’s previous work. Textures are bright and colorful if not terribly detailed besides those you find on the main characters, and the polygon count is pretty low overall. The Gunstringer itself would make a wonderful marionette in real life and the art direction in general is spot on for the game’s theme. Video is interspersed throughout the game, mostly in the form of canned reactions from a live human audience, serving to remind you that you are performing in a play. The soundtrack is mostly your typical spaghetti western fare, but the real star of the show is the narration, provided you enjoy the developer’s sense of humor. There’s a few turns of the tongue both in the story telling and during the action that will have you smirking a bit at least.

So is The Gunstringer worth the bounty put on his head? I believe so, particularly if you’re looking for anything approximating a “hardcore” experience on your Kinect. Is it the real deal? Not quite, but it’s plenty of fun in its own right, and though it may lack a bit on length, it’s not asking for a full price of $60. At the very least give it a rent or buy it on sale down the line. The Gunstringer is a title that demonstrates the true potential of Kinect in the action genre and will probably be the template for others down the line.


Nothing terribly original on its own, but well executed and well paced.


Good artwork, original character designs. Not very detailed or a showcase in itself, however.


Appropriately cheesy voice acting, solid soundtrack.


A must-have Kinect title to either own or experience, especially given the lack of options right now.

Click here to buy The Gunstringer for the Xbox 360 Kinect Online from EBGames.com

Click here to buy Gunstringer New or Used for the Xbox 360 from EBgames.com for a great price.

One Response

  1. badura says:

    Fantastic reviews from you, man. I actually am looking foward to tons of new Kinect games that don’t involve “sports” LOL. This seems like a fun game!