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Platform

Wii

 

Genre

Action

 

Publisher

Nintendo

 

Developer

Treasure

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

June 27, 2010

 

 

- Fast-paced, arcade-style gameplay

- Precise controls

- Brutal difficulty

 

 

- Short length

- Ugly character models

- Brutal difficulty

 

 

Review: Muramasa: The Demon Blade (Wii)

Review: Super Mario Galaxy 2 (Wii)

Review: No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle (Wii)

Review: Destroy All Humans! Big Willy Unleashed (Wii)

 

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Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

Score: 7.5 / 10

 

sin and punishment          sin and punishment

 

Never let it be said that Nintendo hasn’t at least tried to disprove the claim that their multimillion Wii console as a “casuals only” system. Games like Mad Men and No More Heroes have attempted to lure audiences over 18 with mature visuals and wanton violence, while titles like Muramasa and Klonoa rekindle the thumb-twitching, platform-hopping memories of yesteryear.

 

Sadly, none of those titles have reached the sales figures of the newest Mario or Wii “Insert Genre Here”, but at least the hardcore have not been forgotten. In fact,

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Nintendo is just employed one of the hardest of hardcore developers to serve us a nice meaty bone of oldschool difficulty, courtesy of Treasure. The Japanese development studio has earned its place in infamy thanks to its love of shoot-‘em-up games (or SHMUP, if you prefer) and quirky aesthetics (a kind way of saying “bizarre”).

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One of their most celebrated titles was Sin & Punishment, a third person on-rails shooter that remained exclusive in Japan until a recent release on the Virtual Console. With interest gathered from the rerelease, it seemed like the right time for both Treasure and Nintendo to win back some jaded gamers. But will this shooter sequel have players begging for more, or will the punishing difficulty force them to blurt out the safety word?

 

Canonically, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor takes place shortly after the first game, with main hero Isa being the prodigal child of the previous game’s two heroes. Aside from a single page blurb from the instruction manual, however, any instance of backstory is largely ignored. In the long run, an amnesiac girl from another universe named Kachi meets up with Isa, who was ordered to eliminate her. Choosing instead to befriend her, the two gun-toting youths are now on the run from the Nebulox, a group of powerful superhumans who deem that Kachi must die, or their entire universe will perish.

 

Confused? Don’t worry about it, because Star Successor keeps the story to a bare minimum, instead thrusting you right into the action. Players take control of either Isa or Kachi as they make their way across each area fending off hundreds of soldiers and mutant creatures (called Keepers) that fill up the screen with bullets, bombs, and everything but the kitchen sink. Using the Wiimote to point and aim while the Nunchuk handles flying and dodging, you must blast your way through the bombardment of baddies while engaging in a handful of bosses with each checkpoint. The bosses put up the biggest fight, from giant Keepers that chase you across speeding highways to members of the Nebulox who use their psychic powers to attack you in a variety of forms, from katana-wielding demons to flying dolphins that toss explosive beach balls at you. It’s the kind of insanity that only Japan, and Treasure, could dream of.

 

sin and punishment           sin and punishment

 

But it’s also what makes the game so exciting, delivering the kind of Arcade-style rush that current FPS games cannot. The game rewards skill above anything else, which is evidenced by the hidden medals you can obtain during each battle, much of which depends on the melee button. By simply tapping the button instead of holding it down, both characters initiate a triple melee attack which can knock back projectile-based attacks, such as missiles, knives, grenades, and oddly colored energy balls to take out targeted enemies. These same attacks can also interrupt enemies who get up close and personal, which happens quite often for a game that has you flying full-force without stopping. Both characters feature unique play-styles as well. Isa can manually aim or auto-target enemies (the latter at the expense of dealing lower damage) along with charging up a devastating area attack. Kachi auto-targets all enemies without a damage penalty and can lock onto multiple enemies at once with her charge-on attack.

 

That description may remind you of Starfox 64, but the game owes a bigger resemblance to Treasure’s most treasured title, Gunstar Heroes, from the two differently-controlled heroes to the massive and memorable bosses, to the punishing difficulty, not to mention a few other familiar nods. Treasure games have always been known to be challenging, but Star Successor may rank above Ikaruga as their hardest game yet. There are more bullets than enemies filling up the screen, with some boss attacks that are literally impossible to avoid were it not for the dodging feature, which grants a second of invincibility each time the character rolls out of the way. Later encounters practically require you to learn when to dodge to avoid certain attacks, and even it’s almost a guarantee you’ll take damage. Fortunately, the game is at least merciful enough to include checkpoints for every encounter (even during the different phases of a boss’ health), but your pride as a professional player may propel you to keep that scoring multiplayer up, as the game features online leaderboards where you can upload your results after each mission.

 

On the offset, Sin & Punishment seems underwhelming in the visual department, with character models looking like an uncanny mix between superdeformed adults and grotesquely muscular children. The real draw, however, is the sheer amount of effects and enemies that populate the screen with virtually no slowdown. The game sacrifices pretty graphics for blistering fast gameplay, which is a perfectly acceptable tradeoff. The sound is a nice oldschool arrangement that gets the blood pumping, while the voice acting is adequate (and also includes Japanese with subtitles should you prefer it). The controls work great, demonstrating how a proper lightgun game can work on the Wii, although the timing in knocking back enemies and projectiles takes some getting used to due to the 3d perspective.

 

The game also shares the same issue that all shooting games share, a short length. At 7 stages, Star Successor can be finished in under a week, although the huge difficulty will certainly extend that time with frantic continuing, and while there are slightly different cutscenes depending on which character you choose, there are virtually no extras that encourage replaying beyond honing your skill and climbing the online leaderboards. For those who have sinned in calling the Wii a casual console, this game is your punishment. But boy does it hurt so good.

 

- Jorge Fernandez

(August 8, 2010)

 

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