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'Sin' sequel formidable but fun

Sept 7, 2010

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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Sin & Punishment: Star SuccessorAre gamers still interested in earning high scores? Japanese developer Treasure is betting that they are with its latest hardcore shooter, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor.

Simply finishing 'Star Successor' on normal difficulty or higher is an achievement worth boasting about, but the real hook of the game is earning as a high score as possible on each level and earning bragging rights the world over by uploading your total onto online leaderboards.

'Star Successor' is the sequel to 'Sin & Punishment', a cult classic that was released exclusively in Japan in 2000 for the N64, and has since been made available for download in North America on Wii's virtual console.

It would seem like a no-brainer for Treasure to make a sequel to Sin & Punishment on the Wii considering the original's light-gun game characteristics and the Wii's point-and-shoot capabilities. 'Star Successor' is a natural progression of that shoot-em-up gameplay, with the added power of the Wii allowing for a lot more enemies onscreen at once, as well as bigger bosses.

The plot of 'Star Successor' revolves around two races of beings fighting for power - of what exactly isn't clear. The game's protagonists are Isa, a young boy who belongs to humans in the dimension of 'inner space', and Kachi, a young female being from 'outer space', who is tasked with learning about humans and their weaknesses.

Sin & Punishment: Star SuccessorSomewhere along the way, Kachi loses her memory and ends up befriending Isa, who is actually supposed to destroy Kachi. A group of elite fighters known as the Nebulox is sent from inner space to destroy both Isa - who is now known as a traitor - and Kachi. The rest of the game follows the two youngsters as they fight across the planet known as Earth-4, taking on seemingly endless members of the Nebulox.

'Star Successor' involves more shooting than you can shake a stick at. As mentioned earlier, levels are brimming with enemies; there is always something to be shooting at, and it's pretty much impossible to hit everything that passes by you on screen.

There's a very specific reason for all these enemies though, and that is the multiplier. Getting a high score in Star Successor is dependent on many things, one of them being the ability to string together really high combos in order to earn huge score multipliers. The more enemies you can hit in a row without taking damage, the higher the multiplier gets. That's easier said than done, because it isn't easy getting through these stages unharmed.

Adding to the challenge is the fact that scores are only uploaded at the end of a stage, and each time you die, your score will be reset back to zero. The first time you play through the game, you will likely die many, many times. The key to earning high scores is beating the levels in order to unlock them in the stage select mode. When this happens, you can then play any stage you want, one at a time. You'll have to do a lot of memorization in order to get through any given stage without dying, but this is the best way to hone your skills.

So how fun is the game itself? For the most part, it's an absolute blast. The gameplay is very slick, and to say the action is frenetic would be an understatement. The further you get in the game, the more it looks like a 'schmup' - a shooter where you spend almost as much time dodging bullets as you do shooting them.

Sin & Punishment: Star SuccessorYour character - both Isa and Kachi are playable - never has to reload, and can dodge at any time at the press of a button. If you're getting hit constantly or dying repeatedly, it's not because the controls themselves are bad. Though you'll want to shoot everything as quickly as possible, enemies aren't afraid to confront you head-on, which is where the melee attack comes in. Though meleeing is an excellent additional attack - especially when using it to hit projectiles back at bad guys - there are a couple of boss battles that suffer because they focus on sword-to-sword (or even hand-to-hand) combat almost exclusively. It changes things up, yes, but it simply isn't as fun as shooting.

Treasure did admittedly do an excellent job of keeping the game from becoming repetitive. Every level looks different from the next, whether you're flying through an underwater passage, travelling inside someone's deranged dream in a creepy forest, or floating past rivers of lava while taking on a massive battleship.

To get through each stage, there are several control methods available (Wii Remote and Nunchuk, Classic Controller, Gamecube Controller, and even the - yeesh - Wii Zapper), but there's no doubt the Wii Remote and Nunchuk is the way to go. Having pinpoint accuracy is important in this game, especially in the later levels when there is so much stuff on the screen you're liable to go cross-eyed.

Sin & Punishment: Star SuccessorWith so much going on at once, something has to suffer in order for there to be no slowdown (which there isn't), and that falls to the graphics. Though it's not as easy to notice these issues when you're in the heat of battle, anytime there's a cut scene, you'll see in glaring detail just how ugly the game can be. The character models are horrendous, and even some of the large bosses look more funny than menacing.

There is a co-op mode available, but it feels tacked-on more than anything. The second player's character doesn't actually appear onscreen - they're displayed as nothing more than a second reticule. Literally all you can do as the second player is shoot - you can't melee, launch a charge shot, or do anything else. It helps the first player if they're having a lot of trouble, but that's about it. Even completing a stage on co-op with a high score won't put you on the main leaderboards - there's a separate leaderboard specifically for co-op.

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is as 'hardcore' a game as you'll find on any system and it isn't forgiving. It's tough enough that simply finishing the game comes with a great sense of accomplishment, but the real hook here is earning high scores. If that's something that sounds appealing to you, this game comes highly recommended.

 

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor
Format: Nintendo Wii
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Treasure
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site: http://www.sinandpunishment.com

Rating: 8 / 10

 
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