For: Xbox 360 Kinect via XBLA
Developer: Twisted Pixel Games
Publisher: Microsoft
When? Autumn/Winter 2011

What’s it all about? A Kinect exclusive which casts the player in a Wild West inspired world of marionette puppets and zombies. Yes, that’s cowboys and zombies, now where have we heard of that before recently? But don’t fret, this isn’t an Undead Nightmare rip-off, rather an on-rails shooter presented as if it’s a puppet show being shown to a live audience – the camera occasionally even panning around to reveal the audience’s reaction to your gunslinging skills.

With your left hand moving the ‘stringer’ left and right, that’s either in order to dodge obstacles as you automatically double-time through the stage or else to nip out of cover when sheltering from enemy fire. The right hand meanwhile controls a targeting reticule used to lock onto up to six enemies – no need for any special gesture, simply guide it over them – before unleashing hell by using your hand as a gun. Who knew all those days of playing cowboy as a kid would finally come in useful?

In our hands-on with the game controls were generally solid, the target proving accurate and quick to move across the battlefield. Two kinds of gameplay see the Gunstringer either running across the West, gunning enemies down as he did – hit them all for big points – before taking cover for the big shoot-out. Popping out of cover, locking on and opening fire was relatively seamless with our only niggle being that upon occasion the game failed to pick up the shooting gesture, forcing us to dive back into cover without firing at our locked-on targets.

Worth the wait? The Gunstringer certainly looks like an interesting addition to the Kinect stable but raises a few concerns that maybe Kinect isn’t quite delivering the diversity in its titles we hoped, with two of the more promising games; both this and Child of Eden featuring treading similar paths. On first impressions it’s Eden which has the advantage, but we’ll check back in as soon as we can to see what progress this download only title has made.