September 14, 2011

The Puppet Master

Lasting First Impressions of The Gunstringer from Twisted Pixel

Gunstringer BoxartBack in March, Twisted Pixel wowed everyone who came by their booth during PAX East with their latest in a line of ever-brilliant titles, this time exclusively designed for Xbox Kinect, The Gunstringer. In fact, during the entire three days of the event, there was a continuous line-up of attendees just eager to give this title a run. I have been a fan of Twisted Pixel games since they debuted back in 2009 with The Maw and none of their follow-up titles have disappointed me (my very first review here on LFI was of Comic Jumper). Twisted Pixel has a wonderfully brilliant and hilariously comical take on gaming and it is obvious from their titles that they create games for the shear joy of just having fun.

The Gunstringer was originally designed, as their other games, to be an XBLA title but was later announced that it would be released as a full retail game and comes boxed with a code for a free copy of Fruit Ninja Kinect. As quality, fun games are still the minority for Kinect, this was a good move. Packaging these two games together is a brilliant strategy and one that could very well win over some new Kinect players as well as those of us who have been waiting for a reason to use our Kinect sensor.

In The Gunstringer, you control the title character, the Skeleton Cowboy Marionette, as his tale of old fashioned western revenge is told before a live studio audience. Left for dead by his former posse, The Gunstringer is eager to bring down those responsible for his premature burial.  Mixing live action and cartoon visuals, like an old school Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Twisted Pixel has once again created a masterpiece. The controls are simple, straight forward, and extremely intuitive. One hand controls the Gunstringer and moves him left and right and up (jump) to avoid obstacles while the other hand targets the enemies and shoots them. The action all take place on a marionette stage and the Twisted Pixel artists have taken great pains to ensure this is obvious, from the toy trains to the cardboard cut-out saloons to the boulders being placed and pushed by human hands.

gunstringer screen 2

Twisted Pixel knows how to have fun and they have an amazing sense of humour. Infused into The Gunstringer is a wonderfully brilliant arcade action game merged perfectly with the concept of Kinect and enough over the top silliness to keep it all interesting. There are several different styles of gameplay found in this game, from the standard described above, to a simple old-school side scrolling action, to dual wielding six-shooter gunplay and it all translates to your wanting to come back more.

This is the very definition of how to create quality Kinect gaming. I hope other developers are standing up to take notice.  Twisted Pixel Games has delivered the reason Kinect was created. This is what all Kinect users owe it to themselves to play.

Twisted Pixel, I gave you an hour and I am IMPRESSED.

About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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