On Rails

It’s no secret that I dislike shooting games. First-person shooters, third-person over-the-shoulder shooters in the Resident Evil 4 style, even classic shmups, it doesn’t matter… I’m not good at them and I don’t like them. This generation of consoles has been a trial for me, because not only has the gaming landscape become dominated by super-realistic gray-and-brown titles, which hold no appeal for me, it’s also become dominated by shooting games. Why couldn’t I have reached adulthood when platformers or RPGs were big?

So I don’t like shooters. But, as with most things in life, there is one exception, and for me and shooters, that is sweet, glorious rail shooters.

Star Fox 64 was one of my favorite games back in the day even though it is in retrospect the absolute last game I should be liking — a short, twitchy game with a focus on padding your score. I loved Sin & Punishment when I downloaded it off the Virtual Console even as I died over and over to the unintuitive controls. This time last year I was screwing around with Wild Arms for the SNES (which is less a rail shooter and more of a shooting gallery style game, but still works for me). And recently I’ve been trying my hand at Sin & Punishment’s sequel, Star Successor, and it’s the best of all.

I’ve put a great deal of thought into this, and the conclusion I’ve come to is that I don’t like having to process too much at once in an action game. In an FPS you’re moving around in 3-D space, you can be sniped at or ambushed… and I hate having to move, aim, and fire all simultaneously. It’s just too much for me to process, and I quickly find myself feeling overwhelmed every time I try one. In a rail shooter, on the other hand, everything that matters is right there on the screen. Even though Sin & Punishment fills the screen with fire, you can take everything in at a glance. Movement is taken care of for you, so all you have to worry about is dodging fire and shooting back. This simplifies the gameplay to the point where I can enjoy it.

Add that to the usual Treasure high-octane action and massive boss fights, as well as the uniquely Japanese insanity of its story and characters, and you’ve got a keeper. (And it’s got Keepers, as well! lol) I usually don’t give two shits about my score in games, but I could totally see myself score attacking this game until the Ruffians come home.

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