Video games used to be a lot harder than they are today. Early arcade games, in particular, were an exercise in pattern memorization and trial and error.
“Sin and Punishment: Star Successor” for the Wii feels like a love letter to fans of those old games, and it’s pretty awesome.
The game is a shooter by the folks at Treasure, often called masters of the genre. It’s a sequel to a Nintendo 64 game that never saw an American retail release, despite being translated into English.
The closest, most mainstream comparison I can make of the gameplay is to the “Star Fox” series. The action, for the most part, takes place behind the back of your character as he or she flies around on a pre-set path. You don’t have to worry about where you’re going – you just need to worry about blowing stuff up.
This works really well with the Wii control scheme. If you want, you can play the game with the Classic Controller or even a GameCube controller, but using the Wii Remote and Nunchuck combination provides much better speed and precision, and it seems to be the choice of the best players.
The action is tough. Really tough. As a “bullet hell” game, the entire experience is built around filling the screen with multitudes of bullets and enemies that will damage you if you touch them. Good reaction times are a necessity. Don’t feel bad for playing through the game on the easy difficulty setting, especially if you’re not very familiar with his sort of action.
But the easy mode should be pretty manageable for anybody who’s been playing games for awhile. Normal difficulty presents quite a challenge, but you shouldn’t ever feel like you’re being cheated out of a victory. With enough practice you can overcome any obstacle. And the hard mode? Don’t play at home, because you’ll likely be shouting more four-letter words than you want your mother to hear.
The difficulty is good for a variety of reasons, though. One is pure fun. Even though I felt frustrated when trying to defeat several bosses in the game, once I was finished I felt pretty accomplished, which was a good feeling.
Another reason is replay value. If you are good enough to beat the game without dying 500 times, the experience only lasts a few hours and can easily be beaten in one sitting. This isn’t a game to play if you’re hoping for an epic eight hour science-fiction adventure with an intriguing story. You’re playing for bragging rights and high-scores.
Thankfully, there’s a built-in online leaderboards to participate in. As long as your Wii is connected to the Internet, all you have to do is hit a button at the end of every level to upload your scores to the online server. You can then view how you’re doing compared to other players either locally, regionally or internationally. Don’t expect this to be an ego boost, though. I managed to get myself into the Top 5 United States players … until the game was released in stores. Now, it seems like someone new beats my scores every hour.
If you don’t care much about a global scoreboard, there’s still a fair amount of content. The two playable characters function differently enough that the game is worth playing through with each, and if you do, you’re rewarded with a bit more to do and eventually an extended ending – though you may not care, as the story is very crazy and hard to follow.
“Sin and Punishment: Star Successor” will definitely appeal to a niche audience of hardcore gamers. Its brutal difficulty and arcade-style gameplay isn’t for everybody. But those hardcore gamers should be very happy with this title. If you’re a high score whore, you should look into it.