Diabolical Pitch preview - on-rails shooter meets Tim Lincecum

As Xbox Live Arcade titles go, we haven't seen one quite as zany as Diabolical Pitch. Of course, there's a likely reason for that. Announced at TGS 2010 under the name "Codename D," it's a game that will be hard not to identify in XBLA Marketplace...

What is it? Diabolical Pitch can best be described as a Kinect XBLA on-rails shooter that uses baseball as a motif instead of guns. But that’s really, really oversimplifiying it.

Who is the developer? Grasshopper Manufacture is the team behind such “it could only come from Japan” favorites as Killer 7, No More Heroes, and Shadows of the Damned.

How does it look? Diabolical Pitch has Grasshopper’s trademark motifs: it has menacing characters that look like warped versions of friendly and familiar things. Giant monstrous creatures in mascot outfits attack you at a carnival that looks like a leftover from House of the Dead: Overkill’s “Carny” stage. Your hero has a bionic arm and the uniform from Santa Destroy’s baseball team. Yes, that Santa Destroy from No More Heroes.

How does it play? Exactly like an on-rails shooter, except you’re using your throwing arm to take out waves of undead. You can target and lock-on to enemies with your non-throwing arm, and after building up enough direct hits without damage, you can unleash a devastating wipespread attack. In our demo, we were able to unleash fire and lightning attacks on our enemies.

When you make a kicking gesture, you can clear out waves of monsters to stun them for a baseball attack, but you have a limited number of those attacks. Also, while the game judges your throws and scores you to build up those massive offenses against monsters, there’s a fatigue meter that keeps you from spamming your attacks.

All in all, the demo we played was exactly as crazy as we’d expect from a Grasshopper game, but it’s charming. If there’s any concerns we have at this point, they pertain to space. It seems to be a little finicky about positioning, and you may need lots of room to play it.

When is it out? April 5th will be the day that you can start icing down your throwing arm.

Sterling McGarvey