The Gunstringer Review
Thus far, my time with Kinect has felt like a great big waste, because I haven’t felt like I’ve had much of a good time with most of the games I’ve played on Microsoft’s peripheral. It just feels for the most part like developers just don’t know what to do with the damn thing.
But maybe Twisted Pixel has figured something out with The Gunstringer, a game I actually found to be a quite delightful arcade experience. I know, I’m as shocked as you are that I actually liked something.
In this game you are the Gunstringer, a skeleton marionette who must take revenge on the jerks who put him in the ground. The whole thing is presented like a play, with and audience who will boo the bad guys and cheer you on when you do some awesome stuff. Occasionally, you even get a crowd reaction shot in the middle of the action, which is hella cool. It’s inspired presentation, and you would expect nothing less from Twisted Pixel. Or at least I wouldn’t.
Gameplay is simple. The Gunstringer runs forward on his own, and you steer him around objects with your left hand, you make a finga gun with your right hand, and when you wanna shoot you just pull your arm up just like you’re a kid playing cops and robbers. It’s fantastic. It’s fun to use finga gunz for no reason during the day, but it’s just great to have a reason to bust them out for a video game. It’s like magic, really.
The game uses a lock-on mechanic, so you just have to move the reticule over a bad guy for it to lock on.
Of course, it gets more complicated than just that. Sometimes you’ll stop and hide behind cover, and you’ll use your left hand to pop out of cover to shoot. Sometimes, you’ll get a shotgun, which doesn’t lock on, and you’ll have to blast away with accuracy. Not that that’s a bad thing — the shotgun is probably my favorite thing about the game.
Other times, you’ll be stuck in place and you get two pistols, and the whole thing turns into a crazy game of Duck Hunt. These sections are thrilling and tough — your finga gunz will have to be very active, to say the least. And then maybe you’ll find yourself falling from a very tall height, and you maneuver the Gunstringer around, ratchet & Clank-style, with your left hand.
The point here is that there are a lot of things you’ll be doing in this game aside from the min mechanic of running and shooter. And it’s not just a shooter; it’s as much a platformer as anything, as you’ll be forced to maneuver your dude across small bridges and make him jump across gaps and over obstacles. It’s a varied game, and it never gets boring.
And the game is funny, and for more reasons than just the audience reactions. One of the early bosses is a flailing inflatable tube person, and that’s just hilarious. I mean a flailing inflatable tube is an evil bad guy! Ha! The rest of the villains may not be that imaginative, but they’re still funny. And it’s cute the way that the game pauses to give you a humorous introduction to new baddies, like how it tells you that the evil oil baron is “two days from evil retirement.”
Along the way, you’ll have Western-sounding old man narrating your adventures, and he’ll comment on your progress. He will tell you that your kill streak is over, and the crowd will groan, and you will just feel so happy that you’re playing this game.
The humor is punctuated by the end of mission grade pages. You’ll get a bronze, silver or gold badge rating, along with a quote from some random person, like Troma’s Lloyd Kaufman or a nobody message board poster. It’s not outrageously funny, but it’s a nice touch.
The whole game might only take you six hours to complete, but it really feels like a lot of content there, even though The Gunstringer is a retail release. Part of that is probably because you won’t play for long stretches — your left arm will probably hurt from you holding it straight out continuously after about thirty minutes of play. It feels like a good length, and it’s plenty fun to re-play your favorite sections.
The Gunstringer is fun. Maybe not fun enough to redeem my Kinect purchase, but it certainly makes a case for it. If you already have a Kinect, The Gunstringer is definitely a no-brainer buy.
Seriouly, it’s finally a good use for Kinect
It’s hilarious at times
My arm got tired after relatively short sessions
It’s kinda short compared to the ideal retail game
Final Score: 85/100
Follow Phil on Twitter: @philrowen