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The Gunstringer Preview

Josh_Laddin By:
GENRE Action 
PUBLISHER Microsoft 
DEVELOPER Twisted Pixel 
T Contains Blood, Cartoon Violence, Drug Reference, Sexual Themes

What do these ratings mean?

The most rootin', tootin', scufflin', shootin' undead cowboy puppet show in the West!

Of the meager amount of future Kinect offerings to which we've been treated demos in the past month or so, The Gunstringer has to be up there as one of the most anticipated. But you wouldn't expect anything less out of Twisted Pixel, who established themselves as a top-tier developer of downloadable games when
'Splosion Man
was released on Xbox Live a couple years ago.

click to enlargeLike 'Splosion Man and The Maw before it, The Gunstringer goes for a lighthearted, cartoony presentation to go with its action-packed gameplay. The titular character is an undead marionette cowboy, brought back to life to exact revenge Kill Bill-style on the particular goons that did him in. And as if that weren't quirky enough, the game is actually told as if it were a real puppet show, with cuts to live-action film clips of the actors dangling their puppet strings and audiences laughing along with the story.

The controls are incredibly simple, as a Kinect-exclusive should be: Extending both arms and holding your palms down as if dangling puppet strings, you wave your left arm around to move the Gunstringer left and right as he travels forward in an on-rails fashion. Your right arm controls the targeting reticule - by sweeping it along targets in your path, your six-shooter will automatically lock-on to up to six enemies at a time (surprise!), and dispatching all locked-on targets is a simple matter of raising your right arm up in a "BANG!" gesture.

click to enlargeWe've seen a couple levels, consisting of run-and-gun shootouts through the dusty desert, along with the first boss... which I can only loosely describe as a 10-story tall, cactus-shaped Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm-Flailing Tube Man. How that thing got on the Gunstringer's hit list must be a fun story indeed.

While the future releases for Kinect titles seem anywhere from bleak to mediocre depending on your level of optimism, The Gunstringer could be one that wrangles itself to the front of the pack.

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