The Gunstringer Game Poster Image

The Gunstringer

Gun-slinging puppet on Kinect is more creative than violent.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Though mildly violent, this game is also artistically inspired. Players are less likely to come away chatting about all the evil cowboys they shot than discussing its clever melding of live action and computer animated worlds.

Positive role models

All of the characters in the game are presented in cartoonish fashion and rarely speak, save a few grumbled words here and there. A witty, aging cowboy narrates the story, explaining that the lead character is a marionette gunslinger on a quest for vengeance.  

Ease of play

The game’s motion-based controls, which require an Xbox 360 Kinect sensor, are original and will take players of all experience and skill levels a while to learn. That said, they’re cleverly conceived and work well enough with practice. However, as with all motion control systems, there is a chance that frustration will arise should the sensor miss or improperly interpret the player’s movements.


Taking on the role of a gun-slinging marionette, players use their right hand to paint enemies (and occasionally civilians, presented as paper cut-outs), then pull their hand up to shoot them. In some sequences, players can also punch toward the screen to have the Gunstringer carry out a melee attack or pound down to have a photographic human hand come crashing down from above to flatten enemies. Bad guys disappear in a puff of smoke when defeated. Enemies do not bleed, but one environment includes knives covered in blood.


One character is depicted with breasts larger than her head. They are mostly covered, but deep cleavage can be seen. Players will also encounter mild references to sexuality, including one character labeled a "Madam."


Not applicable

This game comes bundled with a free download code for another Kinect game: Fruit Ninja.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The word “peyote” is heard in the game’s spoken dialogue. The bodies of cattle roaming the roads appear to be beer cans that begin to spray when shot.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Gunstringer is a third-person shooter and platforming game with modest but frequent violence. It requires an Xbox 360 Kinect sensor to play. Players use their hands to aim at, shoot, and punch cartoonish enemy characters, which disappear in puffs of smoke when defeated. The violence is offset by the bizarreness of the game’s premise, which involves a live-action audience watching, cheering, and booing an action-packed puppet show that players control. Sometimes it almost has the atmosphere of a performance rather than a game. Parents should also be aware that this game requires much less movement than most Kinect titles, with players able to sit comfortably on a couch while moving their arms and hands.

What's it about?

THE GUNSTRINGER begins with real, live people (many of whom are likely the game’s developers, one imagines) filing into a posh old theatre and sitting down to enjoy a marionette show. The titular hero is deposited on stage, covered in dirt alongside a tombstone. The curtain rises, at which point the stage and puppet are transformed into computer generated entities, and suddenly the player is in control of the show. We move along, using our left hand to guide the Gunstringer’s strings (for navigation) and our right to “paint” enemies before lifting up to fire hot lead from our hero’s six shooter. Players will occasionally catch glimpses of stage hands’ hands as they tap boulders to set them in motion, rip buildings from the environments, and, occasionally, come pounding down to flatten an enemy. Players move through a quintet of chapters, wittily narrated by an aging cowboy who tells the tale of our gunslinging protagonist’s quest for vengeance, with the audience cheering them on in the background. A co-operative mode allows two players to play together, and loads of unlockable extras -- including movies, photos, commentaries, and game-changing modes -- are available in the Bonus section of the main menu.

Is it any good?


In their short history, motion controlled games have earned a reputation among many traditional gamers as being without personality and designed for an unspecified lowest common denominator. The Gunstringer flies in the face of this perception, delivering a colorful, original, innovative experience filled with laughs, surprises, and a willingness to take chances. For evidence of this we need look no further than its decidedly unusual live-action-audience-attending-a-cowboy-themed-puppet-show-controlled-by-the-player premise. Beyond that, the game’s designers have done an excellent job keeping the Kinect-controlled action fresh, seamlessly switching between on-rails shooting sequences, platforming high jinks, and clever boss battles. The countless extras unlocked with the virtual cash you earn at the completion of each level merely sweeten the pot.

You may occasionally experience frustration when the Kinect sensor fails to properly interpret your actions (or perhaps it was you who, caught up in what was going on on-screen, failed to perform quite the right actions), but the learning curve is low, and the default level of difficulty forgiving. Teen and adult gamers starving for a more satisfying Kinect experience should be well served by this unique game.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about physical fitness and active games. Have you played any motion-controlled games that have left you drained, as though you just completed a workout? Do you think such games can help kids become more fit?

  • Families can also discuss art in games. Have you ever played a game that you think qualifies as a work of art? If so, what about it made you think it was artistic? Do you think most other people would consider it to be art?

Game details

Platforms:Xbox 360
Available online?Not available online
Developer:Microsoft Studios
Release date:September 13, 2011
Genre:Third-person shooter
ESRB rating:T for Blood, Cartoon Violence, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes

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What parents and kids say

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Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written bysseguin December 28, 2011

Usually OK with Teen ratings, but hmmmm on this one!

The game itself is cool. But,there are more references to sexuality than those discussed already. I didn't have any specific issues (reference to gynecologist office) until the scene with the character in a union between a crocodile and a lumber jack which produces the gatorjack spawn. This scene has made me reconsider the appeal of this particular game...
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Kid, 10 years old July 29, 2013

great yet inappropriate

it is a great game but i did here a few cuss words like the d word also there`s a scene where that big breast girl was almost naked nasty
What other families should know
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Kid, 11 years old September 25, 2011

The T Rating Doesn't Lie!

The Gunstringer is a great game that I got for my birthday, although there are a few sexual themes in it. For starters, there's a woman whose breasts are HUUUUUUUUUGE! I mean, larger than her HEAD! There are also a few sex refrences, I quote: "Wavy Tube Man would normally spend time in saloons, dance halls, and dermantologest offices." Well, at least I think it's a dermantologest. They just used the term for a doctor who looks inside women's unmentionables. The use of the word "P-SSED" is used once if you die, but it doesn't pop up that often. The violence is also not that bad. Just a couple gun shots here and there and big BOOM BOOMS! There are also some Beer Cans for you to shoot. The Gunstringer also comes with a code that lets you download Fruit Ninja Kinect. The game is fun, but gets old and is difficult at first. So, Gunstringer is a fun game, but there are a couple "They did not just do that in a kid's game, did they?!" moments. It's OK for 12 year olds. THE T RATING DOES NOT LIE!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing