The Gunstringer
The Gunstringer Kinect Hands-On - Quick on the Draw
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If there’s one game developer out there that’s synonymous with the Xbox Live Arcade, it has to be Twisted Pixel; a studio that has almost become Microsoft’s poster child for the service in recent years. Kicking things off with The Maw back in early 2009, each title has looked to build upon the studio’s success and with ‘Splosion Man and Comic Jumper hitting the right note with gamers, it was only natural that the studio would get more ambitious. That ambition is personified in The Gunstringer, Twisted Pixel’s upcoming Kinect on-rails third person shooter for the Xbox Live Arcade. A title that demonstrates that not only is Twisted Pixel adept with whatever technology it's working with, but the developer can still do so with that trademark humour still intact.

Taking place on a theatre stage in front of a live audience, The Gunstringer follows the antics of the titular ‘Gunstringer,’ a puppet controlled by yours truly, as he sets off on a tale of revenge against his former posse. That means that not only will the crowd react to your performance on stage, but you’ll also have stagehands attempting to make your path to glory that much stickier. Oh, and did I mention, you can play The Gunstringer sat down? No? Well you can.

The controls in The Gunstringer boil down to two main control mechanisms: first, your left hand controls your character, so lifting it up will make the puppet jump, moving it left will move him left and moving it right, yes, will make him move right. Sure they may differ in some scenes, like in ‘Spotlight’ sections – more on those later – but that general mantra rings true. And secondly, your right hand is your targeting hand.

How you shoot things in The Gunstringer is very reminiscent of the lock and shoot mechanism found in Child of Eden, meaning that all you have to do with your right hand is hover over your targets until they’re outlined in red, and then when you have up to 6 targets locked on, you snap back your hand in a recoil action to fire. Yes, it may sound simple, but moving and shooting together is a skill that might take a while to master – it’s the rubbing the tummy and taping the head phenomenon all over again.

The game’s prologue takes place in the Wild West and starts off by introducing you to the jump mechanics by jumping logs and teaching you the basics of the gunplay mechanics in traditional Western style by shooting tin cans off various fences and vultures off various signposts. That’s about as much help as you get, and from there you’re thrown knee deep into managing the move and shoot mechanics on the fly.

The opening moments of the prologue are fairly relaxed, with the game throwing various birds across your path and a couple of bandits to help familiarise you with the controls. The actual fact that Kinect, the controls and the game work in perfect tandem is what makes The Gunstringer’s gameplay so fun and charming. And hitting that combo with 6 lock-ons is a nice satisfying slice of gunslinger pie.

It’s not long before the game throws the first boss at you, a Mr Wavy Arms Man, who is essentially an inflatable bad guy who comes in at around the 20ft mark. Taking him down is easy though, as the game throws you into cover and when he’s not waving his big arms, trying to flatten you, you can lock on and take pot shots at him. The controls here differ a little slightly, as you’ll have to use your arm to move in and out of cover. Put your arm in the middle and he remains in cover; hold it left and he moves left; hold it right and he moves right. Simple stuff. This scene pretty much teaches you the mechanics for the aforementioned ‘Spotlight’ scenes, which throws the Gunstringer behind cover and floods him with wave after wave of bandits and such. There is something rather satisfying about lining up 6 bandits in cover and popping out to send them to an early grave.

After taking him down, the meat of the game kicks in and you’ll be flying forward navigating with your left hand and taking down bandits with your right. With your left hand, you’ll be dodging cacti and boulders that get thrown down the hill from the big hand from the sky – the stagehand – and jumping your way to safety. With your right, you’ll be lining up as many bandits, birds, goats and such as possible and racking up the points with them.

As with any good on-rails shooter, at the heart of The Gunstringer’s experience is the good ol’ high score system giving you an extra incentive to nail those combos. If you need a little assistance as well, you can use a couple of earnable assists, including a spin move, which wipes out all your foes on screen and can be activated by punching forward; as well as the hand of God – my name, not theirs – which can be activated by punching down and assists you with a big hand that comes down and squashes everything in the vicinity of it. The key to high-scores though is surely shooting the Phoenix emblems that lie around the level, which propel you forward, setting you on fire and offer you a bonus so long as you can keep it active. The better you perform in this bonus mode, the longer it lasts.

It’s not just about high-scores though, and that’s the beauty of The Gunstringer. Twisted Pixel’s debut Kinect title looks set to offer a little something for everyone and with the dev promising more weapons, bigger upgrades and much more as you advance, our first hands-on only served to whet our appetite for what’s to come. With both Child of Eden and The Gunstringer impressing at Microsoft’s Spring Showcase, anyone who said that Kinect was a casual write-off should be eating their words right about… NOW!

The Gunstringer is headed to the Xbox Live Arcade sometime this spring.


User Comments

Forum Posts: 271
Comment #1 by MILINKYO
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 10:04:20 AM
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Awesome looking foward to this

Forum Posts: 1148
Comment #2 by ChArG1nMaLAZ0R
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 10:13:08 AM
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Finally a game trying something decent with motion control

Forum Posts: 54
Comment #3 by Clarky08
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 10:17:08 AM
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I fancy this as well, different from the wii clones we've had so far (although fun) so be interesting to see where the technology goes. Looks great for a XBLA game too.

Forum Posts: 1
Comment #4 by jimzy26
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 10:19:10 AM
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this looks quality! shame i wont be getting it as i dont have the room 4 a kinect. this will be the 1st twisted pixel game i don't own :(

Forum Posts: 614
Comment #5 by Jordbrett
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 10:40:23 AM
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Hate to ask...but can you play this sitting down? Seems like you should be able to as it doesn't need to track your feet but I won't assume one way or the other.

Forum Posts: 26
Comment #6 by Richie82 [STAFF]
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 10:52:39 AM
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@5 - It's in the preview. Please read it! :)

Forum Posts: 239
Comment #7 by SaiSpag
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 11:12:24 AM
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Looks awesome, more cool things like this should be donw with the Kinect

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #8 by doomsayer123
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 11:41:44 AM
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Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tubeman

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #9 by cjkip76
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 11:46:48 AM
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This sounds good, arms like Arnold legs like a munchkin.

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #10 by Joe_Kickass
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 12:41:47 PM
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Leave it to Twisted Pixel to remind me that my Kinect has a lot of potential that isn't being used. Can't wait to play this next Friday at PAX.

Forum Posts: 11
Comment #11 by Joe_Kickass
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 12:43:44 PM
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Dance Central and Kinectimals were Wii Clones.

Forum Posts: 9
Comment #12 by JamMastrHibbert
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 01:10:51 PM
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Wish I had a kinect. Sadly no room for it

Forum Posts: 5
Comment #13 by Lunchbox 8
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 01:45:26 PM
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It has the potential to be a good game, i just dont think its gonna be.

Forum Posts: 292
Comment #14 by ViNyLek
Wednesday, March 02, 2011 @ 02:45:05 PM
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If this doesn't sound casual, I don't know what does... But to each their own. Still I could defo pick up this CASUAL arcade game, just because I would get anything from Twisted Pixel:-P

Forum Posts: 57
Comment #16 by Shade42
Friday, March 04, 2011 @ 01:33:56 AM
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Twisted Pixel is consistently novel and awesome, I'm looking forward this experiment.

Forum Posts: 599
Comment #17 by HorsemanOfWar16
Saturday, March 05, 2011 @ 03:17:55 AM
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I love twisted Pixel's games - I ll def pick this up - looks quite fun.

Forum Posts: 2
Comment #18 by darklord992
Sunday, March 06, 2011 @ 01:21:04 AM
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this actually looks pretty fun and its cool that its kind of a shooter using kinect

Forum Posts: 764
Comment #19 by J0shUK
Monday, March 07, 2011 @ 03:40:08 PM
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I want this xD

Forum Posts: 3
Comment #20 by Giammysz
Friday, March 11, 2011 @ 04:02:09 PM
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This inspire me and...I like cowboys!

Forum Posts: 88
Comment #21 by Bastado
Sunday, March 13, 2011 @ 06:45:14 AM
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Nice! I am getting Kinect just to play this game. Cant't wait..I love Twisted Pixel

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Game Info
Twisted Pixel


US September 13, 2011
Europe September 16, 2011

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