Sin & Punishment: Star Successor Review: #1 With A Bullet

Nintendo fires a shot at the hardcore Wii owner with Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, a new shooter from the shooting game masters at Treasure. It's brutally difficult and a sequel to a relatively obscure Nintendo 64 game, a Wii library anomaly.

Nintendo is rarely in the business of publishing serious action games like Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, but it's a game that adapts to the Wii quite well. In Star Successor, players assume the role of one of two flying youngsters, Isa and Kachi. Aiming with the Wii Remote, they'll shoot their way through a steady stream of challenging enemies while cruising through a science fiction tale that's not nearly as interesting as the action on screen.

If you've ever grumbled about the prominence of more casual games like Wii Music and Wii Sports against a lack of more demanding action titles, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor may just be what you've been missing.

Loved
Duality & Choices: What usually makes Treasure's brand of shoot 'em ups so interesting is the developer's simple gameplay mechanics and the surprising ways that it exploits those mechanics in unexpected ways. In Sin & Punishment 2, there are a handful of strategic trade-offs to be made: whether to play as Isa or Kachi, who have different shot types; whether to aim freely at an enemy or to lock onto them (doing less damage per shot); whether to employ one's explosive, charged up shot or continue to shoot rapid-fire style. There are no substantial, gameplay altering power-ups. There is instead a small set of tools at your disposal that must be utilized expertly to succeed. It is rewarding through Sin & Punishment: Star Successor's relatively short length.

Isa & Kachi: Expanding on the previous point, while ramping up your difficulty through multiple play throughs of Sin & Punishment 2—best of luck with that Hard mode, kids—more interesting than memorizing enemy patterns is figuring out whether you're a fan of the quicker firing Isa or the more strategic (and, in my opinion, more demanding) Kachi.

Nuchuk & Wii Remote: Treasure says that it was inspired by the Wii's unique control scheme, the Wii Remote and Nunchuk. All movement is done with the Nunchuk, all aiming and shooting is performed with the remote. Control just feels natural, comfortable to slip on, with no unnecessary shaking of the controller. Even though the game offers alternate control methods via the Classic Controller, GameCube controller and Wii Zapper, the default control method is its strongest. That's not something I've come to expect when given the choice.

Dolphins & Forests: Star Successor may have some of the most unusual and the most varied environments of any Treasure shooter. There are, as expected, futuristic cities to fly through and miles deep tunnels to explore, but there are also undersea settings and a most dark forest to shoot through, the latter illuminated only by the player's gun. Bizarre enemies abound, like a boss that transforms into a series of black dolphins. It's perhaps the most exciting rollercoaster ride of any modern Treasure game.

Boss Battles & Patterns: Sin & Punishment: Star Successor has great flow, a series of bigger and more clever boss battles interspersed with high speed chase sequences, full of enemy layouts to memorize. Given that one can beat the game, meaning watch the credits, after about three hours, that's important. Playing this game is not about finishing it and putting it away. It's about trying and trying and trying again, eventually one-credit clearing the game or, if you're really great, taking little to no damage throughout.

Hated
Pain & Suffering: Sin & Punishment 2 is hard. It was designed that way. But even on Easy, the game can deliver its share of frustrations. And I was frustrated trying to make my way through it more than once on a schedule. That level of difficulty can be made more frustrating by the hazy information about where attacks will occur in a 3D space. However, after having played through the game, the major hurdle behind me, I think "Well, that wasn't so bad! What was I so upset about?" Again, that's kind of the point. Oh, and Star Successor also has some of the best storytelling and voice acting of any Treasure game, which is to say it's not that good at all. Thankfully, there's an option to skip these tiresome cut scenes, which is recommended.

Reflexively demanding and patience testing though it may be at times, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is also incredibly thrilling and fun. Visually, the game is not as attractive as some of Treasure's other shooters (Ikaruga, Gradius V), but its intense action is just as appealing. Treasure shooters have long impressed me with their inventiveness and their polish. Sin & Punishment: Star Successor does not disappoint.

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor was developed by Treasure and published by Nintendo for the Wii on June 27. Retails for $49.99 USD. A copy of the game was given to us by the publisher for reviewing purposes. Played through campaign on Easy and Normal difficulties with Isa and Kachi.

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