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Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

 

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

ESRB: Teen - T
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Category: Action Games
 
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Author:

Developer: Treasure
Publisher: Nintendo

Features:

1 player
Limited 2 player co-op
Wii Remote and Nun chuck
Classic Controller compatible
GameCube Controller compatible
Wii Zapper Compatible
Nintendo Wi Fi
Leader Boards

Since the early 90's, Treasure has been making some of the most intense action games around, from the moment they first wowed us with Gunstar Heroes on the SEGA Genesis. Silhouette Mirage, Bangai-O, Ikaruga — these guys know how to deliver hardcore thrills. Now they've brought their signature run and gun gameplay to the Wii with Sin & Punishment: Star Successor. A sequel to a cult Nintendo 64 game that was only released in Japan called Sin & Punishment (now available on the Virtual Console), this is a strange choice for Nintendo to publish. Most Treasure and shooter fans alike will be glad the company did though because this could be one of the best Wii games this year.

Graphics

You will notice the levels in Star Successor look amazing and are very well designed as the game switches from the standard third-person view, to fighting enemies head-on, to a 2D perspective. Sometimes you’ll be required to circle a room for certain boss fights which is impressive indeed. New foes wait at every turn, keeping the game feeling fresh even after multiple play-throughs.

Enemy designs are, in a word, weird. Fire-breathing frogs, dark matter dolphins, flying sperm-like cells, those strange creatures you see when you stare at stucco ceilings for too long—this game has it all. My only gripe with the visuals is with the main characters themselves. In a world full of the strangest creatures imaginable, the two main characters weird me out the most. Most gamers would probably agree that their physical appearances do not match their voices and they have a somewhat dark and evil look about them.

The camera rarely sits still and will pan and zoom to create the most dramatic views possible. Along with shooting your gun you can lock onto enemies and charge your shots as well as dash to avoid obstacles while performing melee attacks. What Treasure has achieved with Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is exactly what the Wii can do best, both in terms of an immersive control system and focusing on artistry/design before textures/polygons. To put it simply, the game looks and flows in spectacular fashion with very little framerate chop and screen tearing.

As with any Wii game I do miss the HD visuals found on the Wii’s competition. Spectators of the game may notice the differences, but you won’t really notice while you are playing. From beginning to end the richly detailed, coloured graphics will have you wondering how the Wii is doing it.

Sound

Sound design throughout the game is exceptional and the voice acting is surprisingly well-done. The main characters’ voices don't quite fit their looks, but they are more than adequate. The game's music is punchy, energetic, and fits the game's futuristic setting perfectly; unfortunately the music can get lost among the fray for the most part.

My receiver tells me the game is encoded in Dolby Pro Logic 2, and after some gameplay and explosions I would say that it is correct in assessment. My surrounds are very active, with crystal clear audio coming out of every speaker, along with some heavy pumping bass effects. The experience is quite enveloping and helps to pump up the one as the sound plays — well done!

Gameplay

The original Sin & Punishment was released in late 2000 for the N64. Unfortunately, developer Treasure cancelled its North American release and the game never made it outside of Japan until its re-release for the Wii's Virtual Console many years later. Its success, combined with the prospect of creating an all new experience utilizing the Wii's motion controls, prompted the Treasure team to make a sequel; Sin & Punishment: Star Successor. The game follows a storyline, taking place many years after the events of the first game, but in all honesty, you're not playing this game for the story; with all the hectic pacing the story will be the last thing on your mind.

The control scheme in Star Successor is done via the Wii remote and nunchuck by default. Given the frenetic nature of the game the motion controls are implemented quite well. I am really not a huge fan of games that utilize the motion control but I found the game handled smoothly, and had precise targeting. Mind you targeting took a bit of practice as the game moves at incredible speeds with tons of on-screen enemies and such. My wrist became a bit tired after long periods, but it’s nothing to complain about. The game does allow you to choose other forms of control such as the Classic Controller, GameCube Controller, or the Wii Zapper, but I feel the standard setup works best. I liked using the Wii’s classic controller, but I think the standard set-up still manages to best it. The classic controller has what feels like a bit of lag to it, which will make you overcompensate a bit; this of course becomes very frustrating after awhile.

After choosing your difficulty (Easy, Normal, Hard) you choose your character — Isa or Kachi. Besides the standard rapid fire attack, each character has a charge shot and melee attack. This is great for dealing with multiple targets at close range as well as redirecting certain projectiles back at enemies causing devastating amounts of damage. You are also given the ability to evade, making you invincible for a brief period while dodging various attacks. This is most definitely the skill that needs to be mastered. Some attacks are relentless; anyone familiar with Treasure games should know this and be prepared.

The main difference between the two characters is in their charge attacks. Isa's is a single blast that causes a massive explosion while Kachi's splits off into dozens of shots that automatically home in on their targets. I think Kachi is a better choice for gamers as you can concentrate on the manoeuvring instead of aiming for the most part.

The first stage of the game plays like a tutorial, teaching you the basics of attacking, dodging, and using the melee effectively. From there on out, it's clear that the emphasis is on "punishment." With thousands of enemies to shoot, millions of projectiles to avoid, and a seemingly endless amount of bosses to fight, each stage will leave you gasping for air by the end. On a console ripe with casual games, this one's a slap in the face and it’s good to see such a title on the Wii.

That being said, be prepared to die and die often. I must admit it can be down-right frustrating at times. With a bit of practice, and once you understand the attack patterns of enemies, ploughing through a stage or boss fight unscathed is easily one of the most satisfying accomplishments on the console in recent memory. Getting through the game isn't the trouble as health and checkpoints are plentiful enough throughout. In a game primarily about high score chasing, the penalty for dying is severe. Your score is reset to '0'. This of course is another Treasure trademark; for those who love the challenge this one has it. High scores, by the way, can be uploaded to an online leader board.

In order to achieve the best scores, players must maintain a high score multiplier and strive for bonuses throughout each level. The score multiplier increases as you kill enemies, but resets if you take a hit. Bonuses are awarded for fulfilling certain conditions, such as destroying a particular set of enemies or clearing a scene in a short amount of time. Other bonuses, such as health, are awarded at the end of each stage. Strangely, there are no accuracy bonuses, something that I thought would be front and centre.

The game also features a co-op mode which consists of player two controlling a second cursor onscreen and firing away. It's a little disappointing especially considering the game features two main characters. I can see how this could have been done to save on confusion, as it can be tough to see past just a single character for certain scenes. Still, with two guns going strong, it would have more than made up for the slight increase in awkwardness.


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