Heavier on the “punishment” side
To a select few American gamers, the fact that Sin & Punishment: Star Successor has been released in America at all is immeasurably more exciting than the game and its four-hour shmup twitch-fest can ever live up to. The majority of people here likely haven’t even heard of it: As the 2010 sequel to Japan’s 2000 N64 rail-shooter Sin & Punishment, and the first entry to be released on shelves over here, it’s practically the definition of under the radar. Its dated graphics and sworn allegiance to the sadly dusty genre aren’t exactly grabbing headlines in the midst of the national obsession with the third dimension, which, really, is too bad—because in an age when achievement points are dished out for accomplishing very little, Sin & Punishment will inspire you to invent some new curses, even on its easiest difficulty.
Then again this is developer Treasure at the helm: The company’s output of games like Ikagura and Gunstar Heroes doubles as a list of games so challenging they’re nearly evil. Sin & Punishment certainly doesn’t disappoint, provided you have the patience and humility to accept you aren’t nearly as good as you thought you’d be. The plot is sheer gobbledygook, and you’re able to control either a boy named Isa with a soccer ball-shaped jetpack or a hoverboard-toting girl named Kachi, as they both protect each other from bad guys in black commanded by an evil droid intent on destroying them both.
You’re able to move your character left and right, or to float up and down, but you’ll be holding down the trigger as the game guides you through delicately finessed and intricately choreographed sequences in each level that fill the screen with streams of bullets from the sky and hordes of enemies on the ground. While common sense would imply just firing away willy-nilly everywhere should suffice, that’s actually a surefire way to wind up dead. You’ll have to keep one eye on the distance to fire and deflect missiles, while the other is ready to slash away at guys zipping by you on jet skis.
Either you crave this kind of insanity or it sounds unbelievably shallow: It’s a polarizing title unlikely to win over or silence any detractors, but masochists craving this kind of punishment will be too busy trying to best their high scores to gripe over the lacking visuals or subtle variations on its core mechanics. And more than anything, they’ll just be grateful that a decade of waiting has finally paid off.