Giant Bomb Review

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Sin & Punishment: Star Successor Review

4
  • Wii

Treasure gets playful with this dizzying shooter sequel that's both accessible and challenging.


 SHOOT     
When it comes to its shooters, Japanese developer Treasure seems to know two speeds. On the one end you've got games like Ikaruga or Radiant Silvergun: incredibly focused shooters that distill the genre into its most brutal elements. These are elegantly savage, unforgiving games designed strictly for skill-driven players, or those who simply like to be shamed by their electronics. On the other end there's stuff like Bangai-O! or Gunstar Heroes, cartoony games that take much greater liberties with what defines a shooter, while still managing to pack in plenty of challenge. Treasure's latest, Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, falls squarely, and satisfyingly, in the latter category. The production quality can be underwhelming at times, and like its N64 predecessor, it's a fleeting experience. But this game moves, it moves fast, and I found myself consistently surprised by the directions it moves in.

Star Successor plays with the basic on-rails shooter concept that drove games like Space Harrier and Panzer Dragoon, allowing you to move around the area of the screen while the game assumes control of both the movement through the environment as well as the perspective of the camera. Star Successor's dynamic use of the camera is one of its greatest strengths, allowing it to transition, at will, between horizontal, vertical, and behind-the-back perspectives. The wild variety of environments play up this aspect, and like a good roller coaster ride, it can make for a delightfully disorienting experience as floors turn into ceilings and up becomes sideways. Regardless of its fancy footwork, this is still a shooter, so you'll logically spend most of your time in Star Successor shooting, usually while simultaneously trying to dodge a near-constant barrage of incoming fire. You've also got a melee attack should enemies get too close, as well as a powered-up shot that's good for crowd control or particularly stubborn enemies. 

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The pacing of this game is relentless, and it forces you to make the most of your ability to move about the screen independently of where you're aiming. In the back half of the game, I found myself using the game's quick-dodge ability almost constantly to avoid the hail of enemy fire. The game offers a number of control options, though I found that using the Wii Remote to aim and the Nunchuk to move was my favored setup, in part because I found the analog sticks on the Classic or GameCube Controllers too sluggish to keep up with Star Successor's frantic action. As someone who, due to the overall level of difficulty, tends to enjoy Treasure games in concept more than in practice, I'll admit here that I played Star Successor on the game's easiest difficulty. Generally speaking, I breezed through most of the game, though I also found it too intense and exhausting to play for very long stretches. But even on the easiest difficulty, I still found myself snagged on boss fights, totally, albeit temporarily, baffled by how to proceed. 

So, a thing about boss battles in Star Successor. There are a lot of them. Like, I very probably spent more time battling bosses than I did the cannon fodder in between those big encounters. Treasure's not afraid to just stack one screen-filling, camera-spinning boss fight right after another, cleanse the palate with something that more closely approximates a traditional shooter level, and then on to another boss fight. It's something that contributes significantly to the game's relentlessness, which is itself a characteristic that suits a shooter particularly well. Also, the bosses are almost consistently nuts, with a variety that borders on the psychedelic. You'll do battle with a drippy, orifice-covered, building-sized biomechanical nightmare; a giant flying sand-tiger-eagle monster; an impossibly huge, robot-and-missile-spewing super battleship that floats in lava; a mind-bogglingly complex space station draped in lasers; and a samurai-space-horse-god demon, to name just a few. 

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Sin & Punishment: Star Successor isn't a lengthy experience, and all told I probably spent four or five hours playing through the story. You can also play the game cooperatively, though the second player's presence in the game is limited to their on-screen targeting reticle, and even then, I found the additional action more distracting than helpful. Really, the key to wringing the most value out of this game, like most shooters, lies in an innate desire on the player's behalf to repeatedly work through the game on harder and harder difficulty settings. If that's not in your DNA, Star Successor might not represent the greatest value for you.

More than its length, though, I found myself underwhelmed by certain aspects of the game's presentation. For all its speed, Star Successor makes some noticeable sacrifices with the clarity of its textures and the level of detail in the environments, and much of the color in the game seems oddly desaturated as well. Usually you're moving too fast to notice, but it makes the already-stilted cutscenes that much more awkward. Some stiff voice work contributes to this as well, though the propulsive synthesizer soundtrack does its part in redeeming the overall sound design.

The past decade has been pretty lean for shooters, which have survived by pleasing the weird whims of an increasingly niche audience. If there's anyone that can bring the genre back on track, it's probably Treasure, and Sin & Punishment: Star Successor seems like a step in the right direction.    
29 Comments
Edited by MadLaughter

I agree with this entirely.

Posted by fwylo

So what you're saying is that it's like Modern Warfare, but with more shooting.

Posted by jonnyboy

So what your saying is, if I like to shoot stuff this could be the game for me. Well this might just be the game for me then.

Posted by FunExplosions

The descriptions of those boss-battles makes my mouth water.

Posted by Yummylee

Pretty surprised GB reviewed this. Figured it was another title left as a QL feature and that was it. And I love games with an absurd amount of boss battles. One of the best aspects of Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2.

Posted by TheLawnWrangler

I need more wii games. this seems like my first purchase!

Posted by fedorajay

Judging by the Quick Look and your tweets regarding this game I knew this review was going to be solid. Excellent read.

Posted by VWGTI


Odd, before seeing the QL I pegged Ryan as someone who would hate this game. Glad to see you liked it.  

I just got the game in the mail today and I can't wait to play through it this weekend!

Posted by ArclightBorealis

I've been loving this game since release. A lot of my thoughts are the same with Ryan, this just takes the genre and goes apeshit. And it's a blast.

Posted by patrick

Lovely, a game where a pointer control scheme actually makes sense.

Edited by teh_pwnzorer

Booo!  Ending sentences with prepositions and using "Like" in place of "For example".  Boooooo!!!! 
 
EDIT: I'd rather see Ikaruga 2 and I want the Wii dead.

Posted by JackSukeru

Gotta love Treasure, definetly gonna pick this up.

Posted by ZombiePie

Ryan I have got to say that reading your tweets as you were playing this game for review purposes was great
  

the (what I presume to be) final boss in Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is a FUCK. I can't even FATHOM what I'm doing wrong.

hey giant laser missile lighting apocalypse spaceship: knock that shit off. no one's impressed

it's got enough bullet-hell moments, even on EASY (whimper) that I wished suffering upon its creators at multiple points.

And let's not forget these classic tweets:

SUCK A DICK LAST BOSS IN SIN & PUNISHMENT: STAR SUCCESSOR!

fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK

Moderator Online
Posted by JRock3x8
Posted by Hailinel
@teh_pwnzorer said:
" Booo!  Ending sentences with prepositions and using "Like" in place of "For example".  Boooooo!!!!  EDIT: I'd rather see Ikaruga 2 and I want the Wii dead. "
Okaaaay....
 
@ZombiePie said:
" Ryan I have got to say that reading your tweets as you were playing this game for review purposes was great
  

the (what I presume to be) final boss in Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is a FUCK. I can't even FATHOM what I'm doing wrong.

hey giant laser missile lighting apocalypse spaceship: knock that shit off. no one's impressed

it's got enough bullet-hell moments, even on EASY (whimper) that I wished suffering upon its creators at multiple points.

And let's not forget these classic tweets:

SUCK A DICK LAST BOSS IN SIN & PUNISHMENT: STAR SUCCESSOR!

fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck FUCK

"

Stream of consciousness tweets are the best kind.
Posted by Mockduck

 Picked this up today and have really been enjoying it.  I as well have been playing through on Easy and think that's a great setting for the less shooter-inclined who still want to have a lot of fun blasting baddies.  It also does include a difficulty level that the hardcore will appreciate.  While I agree that the graphics are not the best (but not bad, the water effects in particular are nice,) I like the overall look and feel of the game.  Among the game's strong suits is very solid gameplay with very solid controls:  I recently played House of the Dead Overkill and while it was a pretty good game as well, I feel like the controls in Sin and Punishment: Star Successor are much more responsive and generally tighter.  PLAYING the game feels very natural.  The ability to not take damage by dodging is a particularly nice mechanic in a game like this, something I wish more shooters had.  I also like the mix of on-ground and in-air combat.  The locking system is great, the power-ups effective and the co-op play seems not too bad.  It is a shame that the 2nd player doesn't have an avatar to control, though.  The 2nd player ends up treating the game like a light-gun game because of it.  Still, not bad, and for people looking for a Treasure classic shooting experience on the Wii this is an easy recommendation.  I payed the new price of $50 for it and feel like I more than got my money's worth.
 
P.S. -  I LOVED that they included the original Japanese language track in this, with the optional English subtitles!  Music is good too.  Oh, and online leaderboards is great and a surprise (sorta) for the Wii.

Edited by teh_pwnzorer
@Hailinel said:

" @teh_pwnzorer said:

" Booo!  Ending sentences with prepositions and using "Like" in place of "For example".  Boooooo!!!!  EDIT: I'd rather see Ikaruga 2 and I want the Wii dead. "

Okaaaay....
 
"  The production quality can be underwhelming at times, and like its N64 predecessor, it's a fleeting experience. But this game moves, it movesfast, and I found myself consistently surprised by the directions it moves in." 
  
...should end with "the directions in which it moves." 

 "Like, I very probably spent more time battling bosses than I did the cannon fodder in between those big encounters.  "    
 
...should very probably not begin with "like."  
Edited by SuperfluousMoniker

I love this game with a passion. The minimalistic story and questionable character design do nothing to dampen the awesome, awesome gameplay. 
 
About the only complaint I can muster is that the levels tend to run a little long, making scoring runs a very grueling challenge. It would be a lot more manageable if some of the levels (which can reach fifteen to twenty minutes long) had been split into separate stages. It's not bad if you just want to beat the game because of the frequent checkpoints, but as a score hunter it can get a tad frustrating.

Posted by ImmortalSaiyan

I want to buy this but I have too many games to play as is.
Posted by HODGEY3000

nice review
Posted by thehuntsmen5434

I just completed this game on normal and I would have given it the same score.  Rather then graphics pulling it down for me I would have just completely striped out the story entirely.  In Ikaruga the story was vague, but poetic.  You didn't really understand what was going on, but honestly it didn't matter as long as you knew your purpose.  Almost like Shadow of the Colossus.  I would have been happier with just a straight through shooter with some text here and here as to what you were doing. 

Edited by astrotriforce

I thought this game was pretty good, as you can read in my VGB review: 
http://www.videogamesblogger.com/2010/06/28/sin-and-punishment-2-star-successor-wii-review-does-this-new-sequel-to-an-old-n64-classic-hold-up.htm
 
I got the game early for review and liked what I played. Sadly all of my friends were so turned off by the graphics initially that they didn't even give the game a shot. :( Though once I started playing it they really got into it. I've yet to go back and not sure if I will given the other games I have to play (Dragon Quest IX currently) but I think Treasure did a great job and it's definitely worth looking into if you're a fan of shooters.

Posted by Oni

I will almost certainly buy this when it drops in price. Great review Ryan, the descriptions of the bosses were pretty fantastic.

Posted by Bribo
@teh_pwnzorer said:
"Booo!  Ending sentences with prepositions and using "Like" in place of "For example".  Boooooo!!!!  EDIT: I'd rather see Ikaruga 2 and I want the Wii dead. "

@teh_pwnzorer:

Wrong on three points. 
 
1. Being a grammar Nazi instantly undermines any subsequent arguments. 
 
2. Treasure haven't had much success with sequels beyond Gradius 5 (which was a sequel to a game they didn't make in the first place), Bangio Spiirits and this.  
 
3. Do not wish death upon the Wii. That is tantamount to wishing that Nintendo were more like Sega.
Posted by golguin

Beat the game on normal with a friend and it was great. It's the type of game where you have to reach a Zen state to stay alive and dodge the lasers, missile, and enemies that fill the entire screen.

Posted by sjolle

seems like it could be good

Edited by MrRoboto

looks alright i suppose

Posted by Belonpopo

It's a game.

Posted by Herocide

Guess I'll chalk this up to the list of games to buy when I finally get around to buying a Wii.