10 for ’10: Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

Developer: Treasure

Publisher: Nintendo

U.S. Release Date: June 27, 2010

Genre: Rail Shooter

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is a bit of an odd bird in that it’s a game I love despite consisting entirely of stuff I generally hate. It’s a shooter, and I normally hate shooters. It’s a twitch game, and I normally hate twitch games. It’s entirely autoscrolling, and God do I hate autoscrolling. It’s even got a bizarre animesque story, which I find I have less and less patience for with each passing day.

And yet, none of those elements ruins the game for me. In fact, I probably had more fun with this game than any I played this year. It’s an incredibly intense and action-packed thrill ride, but it never throws so much at you that it becomes difficult to adjust, which is the main problem I have with most twitchy games. Moreover, the Wii controls were made for this kind of game. It’s amazing there aren’t more games of this type on Wii, because they’re perfectly suited for the system (and perfectly unsuited for standard controllers, as the original Sin & Punishment for the N64 demonstrates). Moving and aiming are completely separate functions, which makes things a lot more intuitive and user-friendly (unlike most other games where they’re interrelated).

There’s also a lot of flexibility in how you want to play. In addition to the standard difficulty levels (which add new attacks and enemy patterns as you go up the chain), you’ve also got two different characters who handle differently despite playing the same basic game. Isa has stronger basic shots, but has to lock on to enemies manually, and his shots become weaker if he does. His charged shot is an explosion which is great at clearing a room, but isn’t as strong versus bosses. Kachi has weaker shots, but she locks on automatically, and doesn’t lose any power when she does so. Her charged shot takes longer to charge and to cool down, but it’s a spray of homing missiles that can target up to eight foes and is a lot more flexible than Isa’s. In addition, beating the game a few times unlocks bonus modes — in Isa and Kachi mode, you can switch between characters with the press of a button, and beating the game in that mode allows each character to use the other’s aiming mechanics.

The story isn’t quite as ludicrous as the original S&P’s, but it’s still pretty bizarre — especially the bosses, who range from strange to out-and-out insane. There are a lot of bosses, though — the game never lets up, and you’re never doing the same thing twice.

I’ve only got a few complaints. One is that there are a few depth issues — it’s difficult to tell if some shots are close enough to damage or reflect in some situations. The other is that the game is really too long to play in one sitting — but the game doesn’t save your score if you save and quit. This makes score attacks problematic to schedule. Really, Treasure? Not even a quicksave?

Still, those are minor complaints, through and through. An absolute masterpiece of a game — and coming from me, the hates-shooters guy, that’s saying something.

And I believe that’s ten! Not a bad series, I think, even if it took longer than I expected.

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