‘The Gunstringer’ Preview: Finally, a Bad-Ass Kinect Game

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Child of Eden is currently my favorite Kinect game. Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s latest masterpiece makes me feel artsy and connected and like I’m floating in the future. All good things, to be sure.

But it doesn’t make me feel like a bad-ass.

Thankfully, that’s where The Gunstringer comes in. It’s the first Kinect title from Twisted Pixel, the indie studio responsible for the Xbox Live Arcade hits The Maw, ‘Splosion Man and Comic Jumper.

In Gunstringer, you control a marionette cowboy who’s shot and left for dead after being betrayed by his former comrades. He’s out for revenge once he rises from the grave (the best reason to come back from the dead, really, second only to religious salvation) and the player guides him on the hunt for the galoots who tried to kill him.

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Controlling The Gunstringer is dead easy. Forward and backward motion is automatically handled by the game, you steer the undead cowboy laterally with your left hand, and a quick upward yank makes him jump. Your right hand is in control of the Gunstringer’s gun and performs a few different functions. You just shoot with a quick upward motion, like clapping back a hammer on a six-shooter, or you can select up to six multiple targets by passing your hand over them and then shoot them in rapid succession with one shooting gesture.

Twisted Pixel’s trademark humor shines through in Gunstringer like it has in all their work. The action unfolds as if it were a puppet show, with 2D sets and an audience. You can see a person’s hand placing many of the hazards in the game in the background, adding to the surreal flair the game’s got going on. The action will occasionally switch from third-person shooting to a 2D platformer in the interstitial moments between levels, too, just to break things up a bit.

This’ll be Twisted Pixel’s first retail disc release: Gunstringer will come bundled with a Kinect version of Halfbrick’s hit iPhone game Fruit Ninja, too. (If you don’t feel like waiting, Fruit Ninja Kinect will hit the Xbox 360 on August 9th in downloadable form as part of the 2011 Summer of Arcade.) Expect the indie team-up to hit shelves sometime in September.

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Evan Narcisse is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @EvNarc or on Facebook at Facebook/Evan.Narcisse. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.