Tag Archives: Treasure

Sin & Punishment Star Successor Review

Treasure revisited their Sin & Punishment property many years after it appeared on the Nintendo 64. Fans would wait an entire console generation to see what would happen after the events of the first game.

PROS: Everything has been greatly improved.

CONS: High difficulty will turn off some. Co-Op feels like an afterthought.

MERCY: Don’t expect very much of it.

Sin & Punishment Star Successor takes place many years after the events of the Nintendo 64 original. Following the exploits of Isa Jo. The offspring of the original game’s protagonists. It turns out that the world of Sin & Punishment is actually a two-pronged multiverse split across two dimensions, Inner Space, and Outer Space. Within them a multitude of Earths. Inner Space is watched over by deities known as the Creators. The Creators seek to keep peace, and balance in the multiverse. They guide the humans of the Earths to defend themselves. A faction from Outer Space sends a spy under the guise of a human to Inner Space. The spy loses her memory however, and becomes infatuated with Isa. When Isa Jo doesn’t kill her, the Creators send an army called the Nebulox to kill the both of them. And so most of the game you will be playing fugitive.

The game is a rail shooter in the vein of the original. Only things are vastly improved here. Off the bat, you’re going to see the stark contrast in the graphics. This should be expected going from the Nintendo 64 to the Nintendo Wii. Gone are the blocky models, replaced with more detailed models. Stage textures, are also a huge step up. And while the Wii didn’t have the tech of its competition, Sin & Punishment Star Succesor, is still a beautiful game. Six years later it still holds up as one of the best looking games published by Nintendo. The game also runs even more smoothly than its predecessor. Almost no slowdown ever occurs, and everything is quite brisk. But the best improvement the game has over its prequel is the pointer control scheme.

The Wii was often criticized for games that poorly implemented gyroscopic movement. But this game makes the case for them, as moving the cursor is almost as great here, as it is on a mouse. The control layout is also able to be reconfigured. By default you move with the nunchuck’s stick, jump with the C button, and perform dodges with the Z button. You can move the cursor with the Wiimote pointer, and fire away with the B button trigger. Double tapping the trigger performs the melee attack that carries over from the original game. If you absolutely cannot stand to use the Wiimote the game does let you use either a Classic Controller or a Gamecube Controller. These work similarly to the Nintendo 64’s control scheme from the first game. But the accuracy is much better using a pointer. If you can get used to it, I highly recommend you go with it, as it makes aiming much easier.

Speaking of easier, the game also has three difficulty settings. There should be no shame in playing on the easiest setting here. As in the original game, Treasure brought a very high level of challenge. Even with unlimited continues, you can expect to spend a long time on the campaign your first time getting through it. Being an arcade experience, it isn’t a long game. Just like the last time around, a good player can clear it in a short period of time. But for those who don’t have the same level of hand, and eye coordination, it will be a big challenge. Even on the easiest setting. The game has plenty of bullet hell moments especially near the end of the game. Fortunately the game has some well thought out checkpoints to make things fair.

For those who seem to master shmups, and rail shooters though, the added difficulty settings should appease you. These greatly increase the enemies’ strength, numbers, and powers. But without falling into the trap of being cheap. It isn’t a case of simply throwing more at you. It’s done in a way that makes you approach things differently than you would on the lower settings. This allows things to feel fresh for those who plan to replay it a lot. The game also lets you play as either Isa Jo, or Kachi, the recon unit sent by Outer Space. If you play as Kachi your charge shot works a little bit differently. If you meet certain conditions during the campaign you’ll unlock the ability to switch between the characters during the campaign rather than choosing to play as one or the other.  There is an incentive for doing this. Because in order to see the game’s true ending you have to complete the game in that specific mode.

The campaign isn’t going to be as long as the typical console outing, but it is also a bit longer than the arcade games it is inspired by. The game has one especially nice thing about it, and that is its use of seamless camera transitions to change the kind of shooter experience on the fly. One moment you’ll feel like you’re playing a Star Fox game, as you’re riding along a Z-axis plane. But something will happen, and the camera will tilt around turning things into an overhead shooter. Or a horizontal one. Or a vertical one. There is always something new happening when you go through it the first time. Still, some might feel a couple of the stages drag on a little bit longer than they should. But in spite of that, the game doesn’t drag to the point of monotony. You’ll be blasting everything in sight most of the game, and yet it rarely feels old. It’s a fun, if fairly difficult ride with as many scenery changes as the original game has.

Another addition here is the inclusion of a two player mode. A second player can control a second cross hair on the screen, and help take down the hordes of enemies. Oddly enough though, the second player cannot play as an actual character. It takes away from the experience as player 2 can’t really have the same level of complexity going on as the first. In the end it feels tackled on, and it’s a shame as a full-fledged cooperative play through would improve an already great game.

Larger than life bosses are back. They once again require a combination of dexterity, and pattern memorization to defeat. Many of them will take several attempts to defeat when you first encounter them. If, and when you get to the game’s final boss you can expect one of the most stressful challenges you’ve ever seen. On the plus side it will force you to use every ability the game has to offer. On the flip side, it isn’t going to be easy. Again, even on the lowest difficulty setting, you’re going to be met with a very hard fight. But the perseverance is going to be worth it. The soundtrack makes a change too. In this game things veer further into Electronica. House, and Techno tunes thump along to the action while you hear some really great sound effects. Lasers, explosions, voice over, and roaring of the beasts complement each scene. This is especially true during the aforementioned boss encounters. All of it leads to a true sense of dread as many of these encounters are with bosses that have seemingly infinite life bars. Blue. Purple. Navy Blue. Green. Yellow. All before you get to critical red. While you’re trying desperately to win these fights you’ll see your life bar is not only a two color run, but the meter is smaller. Memorizing all of the moves at your disposal, and patterns are two of the biggest keys to victory.

Sin & Punishment II, also had an online leaderboard. With the Nintendo Wi-Fi service gone you won’t be able to use it. It doesn’t really impede the fun factor, but it was a nice feature in that speed runners could have an official record of score, and time. Fortunately for those with capture devices this can be done on streaming services, but that isn’t an option for everyone. Still, for most people it wasn’t a big draw upon release, and it shouldn’t impede your enjoyment of playing it. Sadly Sin & Punishment II, didn’t receive the attention or sales it deserved when it came out. It didn’t take long to see it slowly disappear at retail. It’s a shame because, the game is one of the best rail shooters to have ever seen release. It has all of the hallmarks of the genre, and a compelling, if strange storyline to boot.

These days the game can be found fairly reasonably, but don’t be surprised if it eventually follows the trend of Treasure’s other cult games. Someday it could become a hard to find collectible as more, and more fans discover it. If you stumble upon a copy pick it up. It improves on the original in every way, and is also one of the Wii’s best games. Sin & Punishment Star Successor should be in any shmup or rail shooter fan’s collection. It should also be in any Nintendo collector’s library.

Final Score: 9 out of 10

Sin & Punishment Review

Treasure. A developer long known for cult favorites, was one of the kings of shmups. Unsung kings. By the time the Super NES, and Genesis came around, everyone knew of heavy hitters. Gradius. R-Type. Raiden. Contra. But Treasure put out many great games that were under the radar at release, but became sought after later. Nowhere was this more true than on the Genesis. Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy, and Alien Soldier went on to be cult classics. Even today they’re popular enough that a loose copy of Gunstar Heroes goes for as much as a newly shrink wrapped release. After the Genesis, Treasure would make games for Saturn, Dreamcast, and even Sega’s rival Nintendo. Sin & Punishment is not only one of the best rail shooters on the Nintendo 64, it’s one of the best you will ever play.

PROS: Fast, smooth game play. High, rewarding challenge.

CONS: Difficulty may turn off some.

MOD: It was a Japanese only release. But it is on the US Wii Shop Channel.

Sin & Punishment never made it outside of Japan. It was released in 2000 at the very end of the Nintendo 64’s lifespan. Though acclaimed, Nintendo never brought it to North America. It was intended to be released here, but due to the Nintendo 64’s decline by that point it wasn’t. If you’re really worried you won’t be able to navigate the game, you shouldn’t fret. You don’t have to know a single word of Japanese. Though you may have to experiment with the main menus to get into the game. Something that takes all of five minutes. Similar to the Super NES, The Nintendo 64 also had different tab placements in the system to prevent games being inserted from other regions. If you don’t mind tinkering with some pliers, you can remove them. This will make your N64 capable of running imported cartridges.

For those unwilling, or unable to mod their console, you can also use a Game shark as a pass through device. Or if you don’t want to go through those steps, and you own a Wii, there’s another option. As of this writing Nintendo’s Wii Shop Channel is still around. While you may not be able to play Wii games online, you can still buy them. The Virtual Console section is no exception. So you can skip all of the importing, and modifying should you desire.Be aware though, if you choose to play the game on the Wii (or Wii U in Wii mode), you will need to invest in a classic controller attachment if you haven’t already.

With the lengthy introduction out of the way, I’ll talk about the game. Sin & Punishment takes place in a dystopian future. There is widespread famine, and so new creatures are cultivated for food in Japan. But the creatures mutate into deadlier beings before turning on the populace. A military group called the Armed Volunteers steps in to fight the creatures, as well as another one called the Saviors. The Saviors oppose both the creatures, and the Armed Volunteers. The setup starts out like a standard action movie, but things become more, and more bizarre as you play through the campaign. The three main characters are Aichi, Airan, and Saki. Throughout the game there are in-game cut scenes that give a bit of back story for the characters, and why they’re fighting the Armed Volunteers. Without giving anything away, there is an ulterior plot that is uncovered later. Things do get pretty strange. It isn’t a deep story, but it is an entertaining one for an entertaining game.

As for the game itself, it is an on rails shooter like Star Fox. Through most of the game you’ll be dodging obstacles, and a lot of projectiles while you fire a seemingly endless barrage of fire. There are a wide variety of enemies too. Giant monsters, hundreds of soldiers, ships, tanks, and other vehicles. The best part of all of this is just how brisk, and smooth the game runs. There are only a few moments of any slowdown during a play through. The Bosses are the main attraction in these kinds of games, and Sin & Punishment’s are definitely a big deal. Nearly every stage has a couple of boss fights. Just when you think you’ve conquered a level, you’ll find out you haven’t. Best of all,the game does this without it feeling like padding. In the end it feels like just about the right amount of time. Throughout the game you get to use three main attacks. There is a gun, that has two modes. A free aim mode that does higher damage, and a lock on mode. Locking on is almost like auto-aim in a first person shooter. It makes the game a little bit easier, but it also does a lot less damage to targets. The third attack is a melee attack. If an enemy gets too close, you can double tap the trigger to stab at them.

Environments look pretty nice too when compared to most other games on the Nintendo 64. Textures seem a little bit better quality than in a number of other games, and there are a wider variety of settings. Each stage has its own particular settings, and themes. When you start the game you’re in wheat fields, with tree trunks. Soon you’re in a city. Then under the ocean, a military installation, and even space. While these are almost action game tropes, They’re all done with a unique flair. Some of the special effects are really cool too. There are great uses of colors, and translucent effects.  The main drawback here though is that the models are fairly rudimentary. This was probably to keep the frame rate up to the speed the game play requires. Fortunately the wonderful texture work compensates a lot. It is definitely not an ugly game. Sin & Punishment also has some of the best sound on the console. Voice samples come in pretty clear, explosions, lasers, and pretty much every other sound are great. The music even complements the action very well. It all blends together to make for a great experience.

It isn’t a very long game either. If you’re really good you can beat it in a couple of hours. But rail shooters don’t generally lend themselves to long experiences either. They hearken back to the glory days of arcades, where shorter but more exhilarating experiences prevailed. They are also very difficult which this game certainly is. You can expect to die, and continue many, many times. Even on the easiest setting, you can find yourself running out of continues, and starting all over again. But again, such is the nature of this type of game. The high challenge will make the determined want to keep playing, and the really good trying to beat their time. If the thought of frustration turns you off it might not sound like your cup of tea. But most of the time the game is fair. Most importantly, the game is fun.

Sin & Punishment can certainly sound like an exclusive experience, intended only for fans of the genre. But don’t let that stop you from giving it a try. The strange story, characters, and dialogue are worth seeing, and they’re built upon a really good arcade shooter. Save for a couple of minor nitpicks over models, and a couple of cheap deaths it’s one of the best games in the Nintendo 64 library.

Final Score: 9 out of 10