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Sin & Punishment: Star Successor super review

Great

You know all those “bullet hell” shoot ‘em ups that insist on cramming as many projectiles on the screen as possible? The kind that seem to require a superhuman level of hand-eye coordination to survive? Sin & Punishment is the accessible, tough-but-not-impossible version of the genre, tossing endless amounts of lasers, missiles and rocket-breathing monstrosities in your face, albeit in a manageable, less rage-quitty kind of way.

That said, this still sums up most of the game:

You will die. A lot. But dying is part of the experience. Each level whisks you through an otherworldly, on-rails shooting gallery of robots, tanks and flesh-hungry beasties, all of which are easily dispatched by your barrage of bullets and devastating lock-on beams. The more you kill, the higher your combo count (and your end-of-level total) will be. Before long you’ll come to a boss, and hoo boy, that’s when the “Punishment” comes into play.


Above: S&P has some of the weirdest bosses you’ll ever see

Just about every boss will annihilate you at least once. Their attacks fill the screen and deal huge damage, and until you figure out their pattern and a way to counter it, you’re going to become very familiar with that Game Over screen. And in all honesty, that’s the bottom line of the game – keep the combo meter going and beat the bosses in as little time as possible. Sounds limiting, but the journey, while repeatedly frustrating, is fun in its own right.

A great example is the boss above, the weird six armed man-thing. He shoots tons of missiles and swings a humongous girder like a whip. What can you do besides pick away with your little gun? Well, some experimentation with your various abilities reveals you can swiftly dodge through some of his beams and even kick back some of his missiles and yes, even the girder, right back at him for increased damage. What once seemed like an impossible battle is now just a matter of dodging and deflecting, adding a great deal of skill and an “I am such a badass” feel to a seemingly mindless shooting hall.


Above: Melee attacks, kicking missiles back at their launchers, multi-targeting shots, last-second evasion… there’s always something to keep your attention fused to the screen

There is a down side to all this – once you figure out the patterns and essentially break the game, it’s almost too easy. All the challenge seeps away and you’re left, after all that frustration, with a boss that’s now barely an effort. Treasure, the beloved developer of Sin & Punishment (as well as Gunstar Heroes, Radiant Silvergun and Ikaruga) appears to have been aware of this, and took steps to keep you playing.

Leaderboards, an expected feature on PC, 360 and PS3, are still somewhat sparse on Wii. Score-centric games like Sin & Punishment are the reason leaderboards were invented (as initials-only posts on arcade machines), so the inclusion is welcome but entirely necessary for longevity. The game’s endless continues and frequent checkpoints mean you will beat this eventually, so without a way to compete, there’s not much left to do. Now, if you care, you can attempt to climb the charts with a better score.


Above: Finish a level and you’ll be asked to upload your score


Above: Apparently “Fart” can’t post online. Too offensive!


Above: Fart will never change his name!

There’s also a chance you’ll enjoy the actual levels enough to play through them again without a particular emphasis on score. You’re flying by so quickly that some of the details can be lost, and if nothing else each area is so distinct that you never tire of any particular style. Underwater tunnels, an unlit forest, a broken city, a lava world… all the bases are covered.

They’re all tied together by a surprisingly interesting story too. No, we’re not suggesting this is destined for another best videogame stories ever article, but for a game that’s all about assaulting your senses, it has enough mystery and ‘90s-era anime charm to stick with you.


Above: Isa was sent to kill Kachi (who’s not really human), but changed his mind. Now they’re on the run


Above: The melee-heavy battle with Hibaru (left) is a boss highlight, and the creepily sexy bird-lady Ariana puts up a frustrating fight

And though the art has nothing to do with the gameplay or the score, we did want to say the box art and all the pencil sketches inside are gorgeous, so if you’ve got an art bug up your ass, hey, partial bonus.

Little stuff that adds up

It’s a shooter. A two player shooter, even. But what kind of crap is it when the second player isn’t even onscreen? There are two characters, on the run together, and only one appears on the screen in two player mode. I’m sure there are “reasons” for this, but it still makes the second player’s role feel less substantial and involved. No dodging or weaving, just aiming and shooting.


Is it better than?

Dead Space Extraction? No, though they’re not entirely comparable. Both are rail shooters, but Sin is all about quantity and Extraction is all about quality. The latter is slower-paced, violent, disturbing and a real step forward for on-rails titles, but still is only worth one or two trips through.

 

Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles? Yes. The second RE shooter is still clumsy and plodding compared to Sin and even Dead Space, and even though the gameplay is intentionally slower than Sin, it’s nowhere near as fun. If your preferences lean towards House of the Dead and not twitch-reaction stuff, maybe you’ll feel differently.


Sin & Punishment? Yes, if only because the Star Successor is newer and has modern visuals, while the N64 original obviously looks quite dated. Both are similar experiences and offer the same intensity for one or two players, and both are essentially over when you recognize all the patterns. However, we never saw the original in the US until the Virtual Console, so try both to be sure.


Just for you, Metacritic!

A bullet hell shooter that’s just sane enough for anyone to enjoy. The action is nonstop but manageable, and the bosses are freakish and challenging enough to warrant a few repeat plays just to figure out how to totally destroy them the next time around.

Jun 25, 2010

More Info

Release date: Jun 27 2010 - Wii (US)
May 07 2010 - Wii (UK)
Available Platforms: Wii
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Treasure
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Fantasy Violence
PEGI Rating:
12+

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19 comments

  • yagirlfriendsfavoriterapper - July 6, 2010 6:12 p.m.

    From the makers of Gunstar Heroes, I'm sold!
  • marioman50 - June 29, 2010 5:43 p.m.

    Lucky me, with this art bug up my ass, and all.
  • rxb - June 28, 2010 6:51 p.m.

    Being anything like Ikaruga can only be a good thing.
  • bread_or_decide - June 28, 2010 1:18 p.m.

    Had me thinkin about demon's souls with all those gameover screens haha.
  • propagandainc - June 27, 2010 9:52 p.m.

    Not worth 50 bucks? I already effing bought it. Impressed with the length of each level... but how many are there? (Also, I may be sort of biased since this is the game that bumped me up to Platinum Club Nintendo status :\
  • RFswitchBlade - June 27, 2010 6:26 p.m.

    I'm a HUUUUUUUUUUUGE massive raging fanboy of the original, which is available on the VC, so I can't wait to own this one as well, I hope they keep making this series forever like they do final fantasy/ any classic nintendo series.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - June 27, 2010 2:04 p.m.

    Eeeh, not worth 50 bucks. I'll wait for the price drop.
  • Caio - June 27, 2010 12:41 p.m.

    Sounds good. I'm pretty sure I'll get it eventually. Shame about the censorship in name selection, though. WHERE IS OUR FREEDOM? Captcha: 1971 gayness. Yup.
  • OnyxOblivion - June 27, 2010 10:56 a.m.

    Treasure made it. Was there any doubt this would be good? Gunstar Heroes, Astro Boy: Omega Factor, Bangai-o Spirits, etc. The list of quality is...their entire library, really.
  • nomnom52 - June 26, 2010 8:10 p.m.

    I can haz no moar Star Succeasor ads Plz? K thx bai.
  • enlargedhousecats - June 26, 2010 7:57 p.m.

    to*
  • enlargedhousecats - June 26, 2010 7:57 p.m.

    I can't wait too buy this
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - June 26, 2010 2:03 p.m.

    i'll get it someday
  • Felixthecat - June 26, 2010 12:51 p.m.

    This is soooooooooooo 1 month ago... Oh wait, I forgot, release dates. But yes, game is amazing, plz buy.
  • 510BrotherPanda - June 26, 2010 9:11 a.m.

    Is it possible to name your character FaAaArt instead, like the kind Chris makes?
  • shyfonzie - June 26, 2010 4:48 a.m.

    No, Cyberninja, he said it's a much more arcadey game than the serious and atmospheric Dead Space, and a downright better game than Resident Evil. I'm definetely buying this game, Brett. There are art bugs crawling all throughout my ass!
  • Cyberninja - June 26, 2010 2:24 a.m.

    so what your saying is its a good t rated subitute for DS:E and RE:DSC?
  • MrDuracraft - June 26, 2010 1:10 a.m.

    Oh so the hair-trigger shooter for the Wii is here? (That ad will play in my nightmares for weeks)
  • db1331 - June 26, 2010 12:57 a.m.

    Good review. I chuckled at the massive wall of game over screens.

Showing 1-19 of 19 comments

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