Sin & Punishment: Star Successor – Why Can’t Every Game Be Like This? (Part 1)

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I’m taking a look back at a game that was requested by none other than the evilest entity to ever terrorize ScrewAttack, DarkHyruleLord!  Despite the fact that he wrote a manlier article than me and forced me to buy him a steak, I’ve decided to let bygones be bygones and take him up on his request, especially considering I forgot to put the poison in the brine…

Anyway, it also helps that Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is quite honestly my FAVORITE GAME OF ALL TIME!  No joke; if I made a Top Ten list of my favorite games, this game might hit number 1.  Why’s that?  Well, slow down there, Mr. Impatient!  I’ll tell you “Why’s that” in just a second, ya ungrateful, good for nothin’ kids with your smart tablets and your hula hoops and… [rambling continues inaudibly]

sin-punishment-star-successor-us-box-art-revealed-20100309101625845-000Game: Sin & Punishment: Star Successor

Console: Wii

Developer: Treasure

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Year: 2010

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is a Wii exclusive and the sequel to the N64’s import darling, Sin and Punishment.  Being import only, you may not have played the original.  But fret not, for it was released on the Wii Virtual Console back in 2007 with translated menus, as to not upset our delicate Western sensibilities.  It’s a great game (with the entire second half of the second stage being one of the coolest action sequences I’ve ever seen!), but it didn’t come without its faults, by which I’m referring to its controls.  They weren’t terrible, but it felt awkward controlling the onscreen avatar and its reticule at the same time.  And let’s not forget to mention the brilliantly awful voice acting and atrocious graphics.

GraphicsShould I be afraid of a cluster of triangles?  Meh.  I’m shooting it anyway.

Thankfully, its sequel, Star Successor, doesn’t have these same problems.  The graphics, while sub par in relation to its contemporaries, are pretty good, and the gameplay is silky smooth!  Holy crap, how I love flying and dodging around the screen with the nunchuk while blowing shit up with the Wii Remote!  It’s so satisfying that I’m willing to forget that they continued the tradition of terrible dialogue and delivery.

It’s so bad that it went past “so bad, it’s good” right back to just plain “bad.”

I also felt like the protagonist’s character models were a little too stout and dumpy, like they’re smushed a little. Also, Kachi, the female protagonist, reminds me of the things from Dark Crystal, and that movie always creeped me out.

dark-crystal-1

Eww…

Those quibbles aside, I’ve nothing else negative to say about this glorious game because it’s just so damn perfect. For starters, the game was developed by Treasure, and Treasure’s specialty is to create the craziest, weirdest, most fun and most difficult games you’ll ever experience.  And they are damn good at what they do: Gunstar Heroes, Dynamite Headdy, Alien Soldier, Mischief Makers, Guardian Heroes.  All of these games are batshit loopy and fun as hell!  You know what else these games have in common with Star Successor?  The gameplay strikes that perfect balance of being difficulty yet rewarding.  And Star Successor exemplifies this.

80%

Over 80% of this screen is currently trying to kill you.

Star Successor plays like an on-rails shooter where you use your Wii Remote like a light gun.  The whole experience comes across as very arcade-like: the set pieces are varied and frequent, you’re almost always moving forward with action constantly filling the screen to the point of sensory overload, and there’s an emphasis on high scores.  You don’t get anything for scores beyond bragging rights on the leaderboards, but it’s a great throwback to the days of old.  Plus, who doesn’t like getting a numerical value for all the fancy shooting you just did?  However, shooting isn’t the only thing you need to do.  You also have an onscreen avatar, Isa or Kachi, to maneuver as well.

Unlike the first game in the series, movement isn’t restricted to only running.  Isa and Kachi each have an object that lets them fly at will; Isa has a disco ball fashioned into a backpack while Kachi goes all Marty McFly and kicks ass on a hoverboard!

Hover

I’m still holding out for 2015.  Make it happen, Science!

This flying mechanic really works in the game’s favor.  It not only allows for superior control and more evasive options, but it also lets you enjoy the environments as they zoom by.  That is, if you’re able to drink in the scenery while dodging countless lasers and returning fire.  If so, you’ll be treated to some pretty imaginative environments.  Most are standard sci-fi fodder, but the second stage with its water tubes is really awesome.  Also, there’s an air fortress, and air fortresses are always cool.  All that aside, Isa and Kachi’s movement is reminiscent of Star Fox with its on-rails shooting and continual forward-moving pace, but they control and move much more dynamically than Arwings.

star-fox-64

Oh, that’s your answer for everything!

Isa and Kachi also have the always amazing dodge maneuver that inexplicably grants invincibility!  And trust me, you’re going to need it in this game!  Despite being published by Nintendo, this game will kick you in the balls for sucking.  There’s shit constantly being shot at you at every second, and, keeping with the Treasure tradition, the game loves throwing boss fights at you any chance it gets.  Each stage can last up to 30+ minutes, and you’re guaranteed to have fought at least 6 bosses before any given stage ends.  With 8 stages (counting stage 0), that makes for a meaty action game with plenty of screen-filling bosses.  You definitely cannot play this game in one sitting.  The focus needed to survive the relentless onslaught of lasers and missiles will tire you out after a couple stages, not to mention the difficulty.

Lights

This is a fight!?  What in the… I don’t even…

Though the game is difficult, it’s very generous with its checkpoints.  There will never be a time when you have to redo a huge chunk of a stage.  Most checkpoints are right before bosses.  If you die, you get to pick up right where you left off.  Fight a boss enough times and you’re bound to figure out how to beat it.

Face

PRO TIP: Shoot it in the face!

Now, let’s talk about what really matters: Combat!  Like Othello, it’s easy to pick up, yet hard to master.  Of course, you’ll be shooting shit perpetually by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen; that’s obvious.  Who doesn’t go into a shooter with unlimited ammo and not hold down the trigger the whole time?  It’s suicide not to and guarantees that things will be exploding the entire time you’re playing, which is very important!  The side effects of not always shooting include, but are not limited to, getting your ass kicked and being called a feminine version of your name by me.

DarkHyruleLady

Your trigger finger getting tired, DarkHyruleLady?

You have your standard shot, and then you got your badass charged shot!  As the name implies, charging your weapon can deliver some sweet pain to your enemies.  Isa gets the ultra manly “Super Explosive Ball o’ Death” that devastates nearly everything onscreen, while Kachi gets Panzer Dragoon-like multi-homing lasers that devastate enough, I guess.

Rainbow

It could be about 20% more devastating.

Shooting is cool and all, but where the game really shines is with its melee combat!  Simply press the trigger when an enemy is within “Derp, I’m Stupid” distance, and you’ll unleash a destructive physical assault hitherto unknown to this region, but destined to take the place of Chuck Norris in your mythology!  And if watching the light from your enemies’ eyes distinguish right in front of you isn’t badass enough, how’s kicking missiles and lasers back at your enemy sound?

Kicking

AMERICA!!!

Rebounding projectiles with well-timed melee attacks adds the always addicting “risk/reward factor” that all great games have.  It’s super satisfying, fun as hell to do, and knocks a huge piece of life from the boss’s life bar.  Plus, you’re kicking missiles, for shit’s sake!  That’s reward enough!

If you’re crazy, you can put this game on Hard Mode and really get your ass handed to you.  To the game’s credit, it does Hard Mode right.  Instead of just having enemies do more damage or take more hits, the developers actually added more attacks to the bosses’ repertoire.  Games rarely do that, and it caught me off guard when an enemy whose pattern I’d memorized started doing different attacks.  More games should do that; it’s a greater incentive to replay.

More Fire

“More Fire” is always an effective strategy.  Always.

Finally, I want to mention Tag Mode.  If you beat the game with both Isa and Kachi, you can play with both characters at the same time, each with their own life bar and charge meter.  It’s a sweet mechanic that makes replaying an already excellent game that much better.  Seriously, getting through Hard Mode without enabling Tag Mode sounds like the physical equivalent of listening to smooth jazz.

Jazz

Ugh!  I’d rather play as Luigi.

If you haven’t played Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, you need to.  It typifies exactly what an action game should play like: frantic, fast, and fun!  Really, it’s a miracle that the game even got a Western release, considering the original never left Japan; moreover, Treasure is notorious for not creating sequels.  The fact that this exists implies that it’s something special.  Just do yourself a favor and pick it up.  And don’t give me that “But it’s too hard and upsets my lady parts!”  There’s an Easy Mode that won’t disturb your precious ovaries.

Well, Thanks for your Playing!  You may have noticed I didn’t mention the story or plot at all.  There’s a good reason for that: they’re stupid as Hell.  But lucky you!  That’s exactly what I’ll be discussing next week!  Please join me as I highlight the ridiculousness and badass-ness of this game’s epic saga. Until then, I’d like to thank DarkHyruleLord for the suggestion and again ask everyone to place their suggestions in the comments below.

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