I've finally got a reason to reconnect the Kinect to my Xbox 360.
It's been nearly four months since I moved half-way across the country to upstate New York, and while I've been slowly piecing back together my gaming set up and all of its many consoles, I still haven't found a reason to reconnect the Kinect to my Xbox 360.
I could joke about the literal dust it has been gathering in the unfinished portion of my basement, or about having not figured out how yet to set it up on my new, thinner television. But the reality is, the move has been taking up a lot of my time and I've only connected the consoles that I find myself needing or wanting to play. That hasn't yet included the Kinect, nor has it included the Wii.
But earlier this week I had a chance to finally check out The Gunstringer and Fruit Ninja Kinect in person. The first thing I did when I got home was to start rooting around for the still-misplaced cords for the Kinect because come September I'm going to need them.
The Gunstringer is essentially an on-the-rails shooter. Sure, you can move side-to-side and hop over obstacles, but you don't really have any control over your forward momentum. And the moments that the game's travels stop, it places your puppet gunslinger behind a rock for cover. But don't let that dissuade you from picking this game up. The Gunstringer is an artful game and much more importantly, it's a blast to play.
Players control the puppet with their left hand, holding it out in front of them as if holding the strings of a puppet. They move their hands side to side and up to move the puppet gunslinger. You use your right hand to paint targets and then sort of snap your hand forward to fire off shots.
You can see me playing through an entire section of a single level of the game in the video above. Look closely and you'll also see why I describe the game as artful. Another good word would be whimsical.
As you play through the game you'll occasionally catch a glance at the fiction this game is rooted too. You are a puppeteer controlling a puppet. Sometimes you see, sitting in rows and clapping or silently studying you, real people watching a real play. They face you, taking in all of the action and reacting. Sometimes you'll also see the hands and arms of prop people adjusting the set to make things interesting. They might gently place a new enemy or bit of decoration in your path. Once I saw a hand slide down from above, open up and gently nudge a boulder toward my puppet. These disembodied hands aren't being spiteful, they're just trying to keep things interesting for the theater goers.
I asked the Microsoft person on hand whether Twisted Pixel's puppet gunslinger knows he's a puppet performing for an audience. The puppet knows he's dead, that he's seeking revenge, but it remains unclear whether he realizes that all of his world's a stage, its men and women just actors.
The chunk of the game I played through seemed to be broken into three sorts of play. In one sort I was controlling a puppet running up the screen, from an almost third-person perspective. In this bit of play I took out enemies, dodged attacks and jumped some scenery. When I came to a clearing, the gunslinger would automatically take cover behind a rock. In these sections, I used one hand to paint targets and another to slide out from behind cover and fire off shots. The third sort of gameplay, which was limited to a single section, had me running up a series of platforms from a zoomed out side view.
The Gunstringer, which started out as a download game, is now a full boxed titled. To make up for what I assume was a price jump to $40, Microsoft and developer Twisted Pixel are including codes to download the game's first DLC, Wavy Tube Man Chronicles and Fruit Ninja Kinect.
While Tube Man wasn't present at Microsoft's event earlier this week, Fruit Ninja Kinect was. Yes, it's a Kinect version of an iPhone and Android game. But no, it isn't terrible or boring or terribly boring. It is, in fact, the most fun I've had using the Kinect to date. And I wasn't alone. If you watch that video above to the end you'll likely hear people shrieking with laughter as they play Fruit Ninja Kinect, which was located right next to The Gunstringer.
Sure alcohol may have been involved, but fun is fun, right?