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Posted by moonhead on Sep 28, 2011
Review: The Gunstringer / Kinect / Twisted Pixel

Review: The Gunstringer / Kinect / Twisted Pixel

Kinect Powered Puppetry

We here at G4A are big fans of developers Twisted Pixel and the games they have launched so far on Xbox Live. The likes of Comic Jumper and the ‘Splosion Man titles are full to the rafters with retro gaming gold and bold comic touches that are sadly missing from many bigger titles. So when we heard they were doing a Xbox Live Kinect only title we were more than a little intrigued. Skip forward a year or so and instead of an Xbox Live title we have Twisted Pixel’s first full retail boxed title. But is the companies first Kinect and full retail game as good as the titles mentioned earlier or have they been stretched to thinly for a £29.99 disk based product.

The Gunstringer uses a very unique premise but one that fits Kinect incredibly well. The main character is a cowboy marionette puppet, the eponymous Gunstringer of the game title. The game opens with a live video sequence of a theatre filling up and stage hands rushing around backstage getting the production ready to start. This sequence ends with your skeletal character being buried in a shallow grave and then you are off. Raising your left hand brings your puppet back to life and you are straight into a playable tutorial.

The story is a typical Cowboy story of vengeance against your former posse as it was they who left you buried in the hole at the beginning. This being a Twisted pixel game the presentation standards are extremely high and their usual humour is laced throughout. Visually it’s a bright vibrant colourful game world that has a slight look of Little Big Planet about it, in that all the characters, scenery and objects have a home-made look about them. Your trusty steed is a hobby horse andcows made of beer can are the order of the day. Enemies blow up in a shower of confetti and splinters rather than blood and guts. The sound replicates the high standards of the visuals with the recorded theatre audience clapping and cheering you on. Sometimes they are even visible during some gameplay sections. You also have a suitably western sounding gruff narrator filling you in on the story, cracking jokes and congratulating you when doing well. Music and spot affects all suit the game world and keep you immersed in the Wild-West puppet pantomime. The whole package is very charming and exactly what we have come to expect from Twisted Pixel.

So onto the bug bear of all Kinect titles, the controls. In the aforementioned playable tutorial you are guided through the simple but extremely effective Kinect control scheme. With your left hand you guide The Gunstringer left and right simply by moving it to the direction needed. A swing of the left arm upwards and your onscreen puppet jumps allowing him to leap over obstacles. Your right hand controls your six-shooter, paint the on-screen reticule over 6 enemies and then raise you right hand to your shoulder just as you did when you played cowboys and indians as a nipper (Unless of course you were using your sisters Barbie and Ken dolls to do unmentionables with when she wasn’t looking). And as far as the controls go that is your lot, as I said earlier simple but effective.

This simple control method allows the game to play surprisingly well. The bulk of the game has you looking over your marionette puppet from a 3rd person perspective walking into the screen moving left and right to avoid obstacles and shooting bad guys. Considering the ease of control there is a quite a variety in the gameplay. From 2D platforming sections, including a barrel jumping homage to Donkey Kong, through to vehicle sections both on rails and controlled. The on rail sections allow you to fire two weapons automatically with both hands. Of course there are boss fights and these too change things up nicely, with the fight against an Oil Baron being particularly memorable. There are other neat touches outside of the gameplay with in-game critics and newspaper reviews of your performance that feature your gamertag along with your score.

There is problem though but thankfully it’s not the game itself which is pushing Child Of Eden as the best game to be found on Kinect. But a problem is a problem and this is sizeable considering all us gamers want value for money. The amount of content and size of the game on offer here compared to its £29.99 price tag is almost non-existent. You will probably breeze through the game in about 5 hours tops. Bronze, Silver and Gold medal score achievements do try to add some replay but it’s nowhere near enough. Even the inclusion of a code for Fruit Ninja Kinect in the box does not make this game worth the entrance fee. Which is a shame and leaves me in a quandary. If this game had launched on Xbox Live with a price tag of 1200 Microsoft points this would have scored a straight 9 out of 10. It’s not though and it looses 2 points for the price-tag. However if you can pick this game up on the cheap I cannot recommend it highly enough.

 

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