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Sin & Punishment: Star Successor Review

Review; Jan. 7, 2011; Channels: Video Games; By Kyle James Hovanec
A hardcore game brought to you by the publishers of Wii Sports

The Wii needs more games like Sin and Punishment: Star Successor. The hardcore should build a shrine for this game and burn candles day after day. It’s not too often games like this are released, much less released in North America -- much less on the Nintendo Wii. Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is the sequel the N64-only (later released on the Wii’s Virtual Console) Sin and Punishment: Successor to Earth. This game plays very much like its predecessor: take a character down a pre-established path in each stage while blasting enemies who get in your way. (You can also slash them as they get closer to you with your sword.) You rack up points on your kill combo, which then exponentially earns you more. It all sounds simple; however, it’s anything but.

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor Screenshots
Click the image to view screenshots

Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is hard -- blisteringly hard. In fact it’s safe to say that it’s probably one of the hardest games available today, on any system. You can change the difficulty, of course, but you’ll still die a lot. The initial stages aren't that hard, as it's usually pretty easy to play through and earn points by killing common enemies, but the difficulty comes with the game’s many bosses. Sin and Punishment’s bosses require quick reflexes and pure memorization in order to best them. You will probably die many, many times before getting a pattern down, and even then, some often change their tactics mid-battle and force you to rethink your strategy. Once you do best your enemies, though, you'll feel ecstatic as you move to the next stage. Some games give you perks for doing well; some games even let you win if you’re having trouble; but this game gives you nothing. Every level you pass, every boss you defeat, is a kill earned. Sin and Punishment is a game that forces you to get better -- or give up. You will die many times. You will yell, scream, and curse like you’ve never cursed at a Wii title before, but you will eventually beat the game’s bosses. You will have earned that kill, and it will feel glorious.

The game comes with a variety of control options from the classic GCN controller to the classic controller to the nunchuck and Wii mote. Out of all three, the latter seem to be the best option, as the nunchuck was designed for moving and dodging attacks while the Wii mote aims at enemies. It’s a control scheme that feels the most natural, and in a game where you’ll be constantly dodging and shooting at enemies, you’ll want the most natural scheme. There are two playable characters in the game, each with their own special attacks and mechanics. There’s also an option for two player cooperative action; however, it’s only limited to one of the characters and a targeting icon. It’s a shame the two characters can't be played together, as they both appear next to each other in the cut scenes, and using both of their unique attacks would have created some interesting combos. The graphics are serviceable, with some large environments from underwater tunnels to haunted forests. The art direction, however, is amazing. All of the enemies are instantly recognizable, and the bosses are some of the most grotesque and unique looking enemies in any modern game. Even the little details in each stage, from abandoned buildings to the little fish swimming outside the underwater tunnel, are testaments to how well the levels and enemies were designed. My only gripe with the art direction is the main characters themselves. Both of them look way too young and unconvincing as these heavily armed people blasting away at hundreds of enemies.

The story for Sin and Punishment is convoluted, makes little to no sense, and comes with some of the most clichéd dialog and character archetypes in a video game. If you’ve watched any anime in the past 10 years, you’ll know exactly what to expect. However, picking on the story is silly, as the focus of the game shouldn’t be story, but rather game play. Here, story is nothing more than an ancillary device to loosely string each level and stage together.

Sin and Punishment is a game with a pure game play focus. Each level is memorable, each boss is challenging and fun, and the overall game is a delight to excel at. The game last only roughly 5 to 6 hours, but when you factor in the insane challenges, multiple difficulties, and the ability to upload your scores onto an online score board, it seems limitless. The incentive to re-play, get better scores, and just get better in general is strong.

Sin and Punishment is not for everyone; a majority will most likely be turned off by the obscene and unforgiving difficulty. But for those looking for something more, those who enjoy Japanese shooters, or those who appreciate rock solid game play and design, you can’t go wrong here. 

The Wii has become one of the most diverse consoles on the market, and this is just another example of it catering to the hardcore gamer. Think you’re hardcore? Buy this game, prepare to get owned, and prove it.

Editor's Note: Thanks to GamesRadar for copies of the screenshots.

Comments

Review Score
8.8

Teen

Titles rated T (Teen) have content that may be suitable for ages 13 and older. Titles in this category may contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling, and/or infrequent use of strong language.

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