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Sin & Punishment: Star Successor (Wii) artwork

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor (Wii) review

"It's hard to do justice to the intensity and creativity of Successor to the Skies. All I can hope to do is to convince you that the foundations are in place and give you a mere glimpse of the imagination that flows through this title. If youíre even a little bit convinced then I urge you to go out and experience the insanity for yourself. Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Skies is exactly the game that people have in mind when they think of Treasure."

I never played the original Sin and Punishment. Like others who remained loyal to the N64 until its dying breath, I longed for Treasureís on-rails shooter to make it to western shores. But it didnít, the console died and we moved on.

Ten years passed before I finally had the opportunity, via my new Wii and Nintendoís Virtual Console, to discover just what I was missingÖ only for Treasure to complicate matters by releasing a sequel. For whatever reason, I decided to play them in reverse order. Now I donít really have any desire to play the original. Iím not sure I could handle any more.

Treasure finally lives up to its reputation with Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Skies (Star Successor in the US). Since the famous split from Konami, reviewers have painted Treasure as a wildly creative bunch of mavericks who bring ideas, energy and imagination to every genre they touch. Itís a romantic image, but one thatís out of touch with reality. Treasure games often feature an uninspired selection of weaponry and waste space with ďimaginativeĒ ideas that just donít work. For every Seven Force there are a dozen Melon Breads.

With this in mind, let me tell you why Successor to the Skies is such a triumph. Itís really quite simple: thereís no wasted space in this game. Every move and attack serves a clear and valuable purpose and, even though the adventure is bursting with crazy ideas, the intensity never ever drops below fist-pumping heart-pounding maximum. There are no Melon Breads here and each level hits you hard with the strength of a thousand Seven Forces.

It may be an on-rails shooter, but the range of moves and attacks elevates the game beyond simple classification. Itís as if the mavericks at Treasure have said to themselves, ďOK Ė how can we make this genre as interactive as possibleĒ. So, what can you do? You can move across the screen at will; stay on the ground to earn bonus points, but feel free to jump off the ground and fly around the screen to evade attacks. You can perform a dodge that proves vital because it makes the characters invulnerable to most attacks. You can lock-on to enemies (or not Ė point the Wii remote to shoot freely at any threat). You can charge a trusty screen-clearing bomb. You can even perform melee attacks that inflict close-quarters damage AND deflect powerful projectiles that can be then targeted at foes.

Whatís most impressive is the way the game demands that you use every single move at your disposal. The abilities are so tightly bound to the pace, variety and challenge of the game that you need to be ready to call on any of the moves at a momentís notice. How else are you supposed to avoid a cascade of flaming bullets other than to dodge through them? And how else can you damage the supernaturally quick Arani Shami other than by locking on to her and hoping for the best? Itís fortunate that the remote and nunchuck allow for such clear and comfortable control, otherwise the experience would descend into chaos. There are many moves, but they become second-nature in no time at all.

These are the foundations that support the rest of the game. Because you have such close-control over your character and because there are so many ways to interact with the action unfolding before you, the guys at Treasure have been able to free their imaginations and fill the seven stages with surprise, creativity and challenge.

Surprise is central to the gameís charm. Treasure seems determined to shatter our conventional expectations of the genre with every single level, constantly shifting between different perspectives and gameplay styles. Midway through the second stage the game suddenly and randomly transforms into a side-scrolling shmup in the vein of Gradius V, leading you through a cyber-world of rampaging robots and deadly bullet-spewing machines. Whether its referencing these old classics or forging its own vision of what an on-rails shooter can be, the creativity never fades. One level drops you in the ocean and has you battle against a beautiful and very violent dolphin. This creature kicks bombs toward the screen. You can dodge these, of course. But wait, what about using your melee attack to deflect them back?

Even the small-scale enemies flaunt this deadly creativity. Down in the swamps you encounter bloated tadpoles, mutated monsters straight out of survival horror. These slimy foes cover the screen in fire. Dodge, fly to the top of the screen, stand and fight back -- itís your call. Whatever you do, youíll probably lose health. Successor to the Skies features a normal difficulty that delivers a brutal challenge, unlike so many of its on-rail competitors. In fact, my one reservation is that itís almost too much. I recognise the fact that it is SIN and PUNISHMENT, but the furious pace can be overwhelming. The solution? Take a break. Memorise the attack patterns (some bosses have five, six, sevenÖ), sharpen your reflexes, plan a different approach. Try again. Itís all about the timing. Frustration never arises as a result of the shifts in perspective or variety of enemy attacks because you have the tools to deal with these threats.

It's hard to do justice to the intensity and creativity of Successor to the Skies. All I can hope to do is to convince you that the foundations are in place and give you a mere glimpse of the imagination that flows through this title. If youíre even a little bit convinced then I urge you to go out and experience the insanity for yourself. Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Skies is exactly the game that people have in mind when they think of Treasure.


JANUS2's avatar
Freelance review by Tim Ayre (June 27, 2010)

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zippdementia posted June 27, 2010:

Damn! Another convinced buyer over here.

Also... best cover image for the site.
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pickhut posted June 27, 2010:

Yeah, it's a pretty good review. I'm tempted to pick it up, but I want to play the first on Virtual Console first.

By the way, I somehow managed to see this review before it even appeared on the front page earlier today. I was in the middle of submitting my Overkill review, and I suddenly saw a review for Star Successor in the top corner box. XD
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jiggs posted June 27, 2010:

hell ya, just got this game tonight. gonna fire tis baby up!!

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