Sin and Punishment: Star Successor
If there's any downside to Sin and Punishment, it's that the game doesn't feature true two-player co-op
With the possible exception of Bangai-O Spirits, it's been a while since Treasure has created a good old-fashioned shooter, which is why Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is such a treat: it takes Treasure back to its hardcore shoot 'em up roots, hearkening back to classic rail shooters like Panzer Dragoon Orta and Star Fox 64 while maintaining its own distinct flavour. Sufficed to say, fans of old-school shooters will be delighted.
- Much-improved controls from N64 version, solid challenge for all skill levels, surprisingly long for a shooter
- Doesn't feature true two-player co-op play
Treasure's surprisingly lengthy shoot-em-up serves as one of the best on the Wii, expertly utilising the console's control scheme for a frenzied, fast-paced experience that's a must-own for fans of the genre.
Motion controllers are the main addition to this sequel, and they benefit Sin and Punishment immensely. The original basically required a third hand to play correctly, as it made use of both the analog stick and the d-pad on the Nintendo 64 controller in addition to the face buttons. The Wii version simplifies things considerably, making it possible to aim the reticule at the screen with the remote while moving the character with the analog stick on the nunchuk. There are a number of control configurations, but the remote/nunchuk combo is by far the smoothest and most natural.
But even though the new controls make aiming and shooting much easier, Sin and Punishment is by no means a cakewalk. Enemies swarm the screen from all angles even on normal mode, and the elaborate bosses need much more than brute force to defeat. Many require that you take advantage of Sin and Punishment's unique combination of gun and swordplay to destroy obstacles or reflect projectiles for massive damage.
The bosses are numerous, with four or five appearing in each stage, which makes the game's eight levels feel like lengthy endurance runs. You only get one life, so the newly-added dodge button has to be used to good effect if you want to make it through the whole stage alive. There are unlimited continues as well as checkpoints that are scattered throughout the stage, but dying wipes your score clean. This decision actually strikes a nice balance between casual and hardcore players. The former will be able to muddle their way through and eventually make their way to the end, but the latter will be much more interested in getting through each stage without dying and achieving a high score. Adding to the scoring dynamic is a multiplier, which steadily rises as foes are dispatched, but falls when you get hit by a projectile. Expect to find plenty of YouTube videos in which players not only go for a "one-credit" run -- finishing the level with just one life -- but also perfect "no-hit" runs as well.
But even skilled players will have a tough time pulling off either of these feats. Sin and Punishment is pretty difficult on normal mode, and an absolute nightmare on hard; the latter mode requires every move in your arsenal just to stay alive. Treasure definitely doesn't hold back, making Sin & Punishment a worthy challenge for shoot 'em up fans with fond memories of Ikaruga. Casual gamers will no doubt be scared off by the difficulty, but Treasure has done an admirable job of ensuring that even the average player can finish. The challenge is there if you want it, but you can ignore the skill based goals and just have fun blasting away as well.
If there's any downside, it's that Sin and Punishment doesn't feature true two-player co-op. Instead, the second player is represented by a simple targeting reticule; you're given unlimited ammo, but you lack any special abilities. Third-person rail shooters rarely have two-player co-op, so its inclusion in Sin and Punishment can be seen as a bonus, but as compromises go, it's a bit half-hearted.
Nevertheless, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is a worthy successor to the N64 classic, and probably the best shoot 'em up on the Wii period. Make sure this one finds its way into your library.
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