Back in 2000, Treasure, a developer known for classic rail-shooters such as Ikaruga and Radiant Silvergun, released a new rail-shooter entitled Sin & Punishment on the Nintendo 64. The title was firmly rooted in the classic Treasure rail-shooter formula, but was in 3D instead of the 2D approach many of the developer's titles had used in the past. Due to delays in the game's development and the weakening market for the Nintendo 64, the title never made it outside of Japan, even though it was made with a Western audience in mind with English voiceovers. In late 2007 Nintendo released the title on the Wii's Virtual Console. The success of the game on the Virtual Console allowed for a sequel to be made, which was first revealed during Nintendo's Fall 2008 conference. It was actually released last Fall in Japan and North American and European gamers have been waiting for news about the game and when it would be released after numerous delays and postponements. Now, with only a few weeks left before the European and North American releases, is Sin & Punishment: Star Successor worth the wait? If what we've seen so far indicated anything, it appears that the title will be able to cater to both the hardcore Treasure fans and those who are new to the rail-shooter genre.
Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is set many years after the first game and it takes place on another version of Earth, revolving around two characters: Isa and Kachi. Isa is the son of Saki and Airan, who were both in the original Sin & Punishment, who is on a mission to eliminate Kachi, an amnesiac girl. Things don't go as planned and the two work together to defeat a force that threatens the Earth. Each character's storyline is slightly different, but both stories eventually meet together near the end of the game. A special final boss fight and ending can also be unlocked for those who finish the game with both characters, giving a reason to play through the game again with the second character. Exclusive to the Western version of the game are some slight tweaks to the original Japanese version, including visual changes, although Nintendo has been silent on any other major tweaks to the game. It is important to note that even though this game is a sequel, the storyline doesn't require knowledge of the original game, since many of the connections are merely just slight references, such as the male main character's parents, and are inconsequential to overall storyline.
As par for the rail-shooting genre, Sin & Punishment 2 has players shoot everything that appears on the screen, while evading attacks from the various enemies that will be encountered, with movement taking place both in the air and on the ground. For those who may be turned off by generic rail-shooters, Sin & Punishment 2 features some unique gameplay elements that help to bring excitement to what at times can be a tiresome genre. Supporting the Wii Remote (with Nunchuk), Wii Zapper, Classic Controller (including the Pro version) and the GameCube controller, players can dodge enemy attacks by rolling. This is augmented by the ability to jump in the air and strafe left and right on the ground, and move in any direction in the air (similar to Star Fox 64's aerial movements in its on-rails segments).
Players can also charge their weapons and attack multiple opponents in unison, netting a higher score and starting a chain, which acts a multiplier effect to the points they receive from defeating enemies. This gameplay element becomes paramount in some of the game's levels, which require players to strategically defeat waves of enemies in unison to survive. Shooting isn't the only way to defeat enemies, as the game also features the ability to use a sword as a melee attack when enemies get too close. Besides attacking enemies in this way, players can also send back missiles and other projectiles to turn them against the enemies. In the demo that was playable at E3 2009, mastering these two attack styles and the dual ground and in-air gameplay perspectives was key to keeping the score multiplier going and netting a high score in the level.
As stated before, Sin and Punishment 2 features two playable characters, Isa and Kachi, and they both play differently from each other. While both characters control the same and have the same basic attacks, Kachi has the ability to lock onto multiple opponents and fire at them all at once, while Isa can fire a charged burst of energy at a group of enemies in one area. In the demo at E3, this required two different play styles, since Kachi might not work as well in a situation where multiple enemies need to be attacked quickly and similarly, Isa might not work as well if there isn't a large group of enemies present together in one place. The game also features multiple difficulty modes so both hardcore and casual players can both enjoy in the fun.
The original Sin & Punishment didn't make it to the West, but Sin and Punishment: Star Successor all but appears to make up for that with a polished and breathtaking experience that isn't too hard for beginners but satisfies the insane difficulty that hardcore rail-shooter fans have come to expect. The stars all but appear to be aligning for a success for Treasure and Nintendo this May 7th in Europe and June 7th in North America.