GamepadDojo Reviews Sin and Punishment 2: Get Bonus or Go Home
You are going to go to your nearest game store and preorder Sin and Punishment 2 for the Wii. That is not a command, but rather a statement of fact. It is, as of yet, the best game on the console. “Not much of a contest hur hur” I hear you say. Okay, fair enough. What if I told you it is the best rail shooter of all time, and that’s even including games like Star Fox 64? That grab your attention a little more? It is easily one of my favorite games of all time, and it managed this while being entirely in a language I couldn’t understand.
The game came out in Japan on October 29 of this year, and you all can expect it in fancy Englishy words Spring 2010. I have a theory that Nintendo intentionally delayed the US release so as not to distract from New Super Mario Bros Wii, but that’s another story for another time. This release date is assuming that Nintendo still localizes is after the rather poor showing the game had in it’s first week. I could blame many things for the poor sales. I could blame that more copies weren’t shipped to stores. I could blame Famitsu for not giving it a better score. For now, I will simply have to go with the theory that every Japanese gamer who did not buy this game is actually a clone of Hitler.
So yes, I played an import copy, even though Nintendo really doesn’t like people importing games. Sorry, Nintendo, but I didn’t feel like waiting to play the only game that justifies your console. Guess you’ll push for a simultaneous release next time if you don’t want your precious sales data skewed.
Surprising as it may sound, this game really legitimizes the Wii’s existence. That’s not to say that it’s the only good game for the Wii. It’s just one of two that are actually better for being on the Wii rather than another system. The only other case I can think of is Metroid Prime 3, and Sin and Punishment 2 is so much better than that game it’s ridiculous.
When I first got my hands on S&P2, I had been minus nunchuck for several months now. Months ago, a small puppy chewed my nunchuck into oblivion, and since the only things I ever seemed to use my Wii for anymore used the classic controller I didn’t feel an urgent need to replace it. As such, my first two days with the game were played with the classic controller. The game has four controls you can use, which I will order from best to worst:
Wiimote and nunchuck.
Gamecube controller. I actually haven’t played with the Gamecube controller, but I have faith in the classic controller.
Wii zapper. This might be a perfectly good way to play and maybe possibly but not likely better than plain old wiimote and nunchuck, but there is no way in hell I am paying for a Wii zapper. Screw that.
One of the problems with playing the first Sin and Punishment title on the Wii’s Virtual Console is that it was not designed for the classic controller. The game was designed to take advantage of the N64 controller, aka the worst controller ever, and make it work. If what I hear is to be believed, it did just that, but taking N64 controls and mapping them to the classic controller doesn’t carry over as well as you might think, and until you’ve spent enough time on the game to really get used to said controls you will be constantly cursing the fact that you were born with only ten fingers.
The classic controller isn’t bad for S&P2, it actually works very well, but it’s still an inferior control scheme. Part of the problem comes from the sensitivity being about half of what it should be when at max. Your reticule just doesn’t move across the screen nearly as quickly as you’d like. There’s also the fact that the Z buttons just aren’t as conveniently placed as you’d like them to be, and you’ll be using them a lot. You can probably change the controls to fix the Z button problem, but I don’t speak Japanese so I didn’t mess with figuring out how to do that.
That said I managed to beat the first three, out of seven, stages on Normal without the classic controls being the source of my ire, so if you are some crazy person who is going to hate playing with the wiimote simply out of principle, other options are there, and they don’t suck. For everyone sane, play with the goddamn wiimote.
Playing with the wiimote is better than the classic controller in much the same way cake is better than sex. Sex is great, but it isn’t cake great .
That the wiimote allows you to aim at things quicker is one of the primary benefits. Doesn’t matter if enemies are on opposite sides of the screen, take one out and before you can say “The Wii is a gimmicky console” you’re already pointing at the other target. I did complain that the classic controls didn’t have high enough sensitivity settings, but if they cranked them up high enough to keep up with the wiimote, I expect you’d actually have a hard time controlling it. With a controller, you’re essentially guiding the reticle across a line and stopping at the enemy, the line being the direction you’re telling the game to move the reticle. What I mean to say is that when you’re using a regular controller, you’ll always have to deal with the transitional movement from Point A to Point B. With the wiimote, this transition falls somewhere between negligible to non-existant. You’re able to aim at a large number of targets on different parts of the screen extremely quickly without taking a noticeable loss in terms of accuracy. Not that I’m a major PC gamer, but this seems to be the thing that they’re always bragging about mouse controls for, only better because I goddamn suck at mouse controls in FPS games.
Button placement is also improved, partially due to the removal of one of the thumbsticks. On the wiimote, hold B (aka the wiimote’s trigger) to shoot, tap A to lock on, and hold and release A for a special attack. On the nunchuck, use the control stick to move about the screen, and Z to dodge. There’s a jump button mapped to C, but since you can dodge vertically and glide around anywhere you want while in the air, you’ll almost never use it outside of the vehicle segment. These controls make sense, and even if you don’t like them I’m quite certain you can change them if so inclined. I’ll also bring up that dodging with Z boils down to pressing it and a direction at the same time, like Mirai said Muramasa should have done, and that’s nice. I think this is the first time I’ve seen a dodge mechanic done properly on the Wii, though I’ll admit I haven’t played too many games on it as compared with every other system I have ever owned. Compared with most any other Wii game ever, it controls like a dream.
You have two characters you can play the game through as, and depending on who you choose, you have different ways of playing. Kachi, the girl, automatically locks on to whatever she’s shooting, which makes her useful for taking down large groups of weaker enemies. Her special shot also locks on to enemies, but can fire at multiple enemies at once, depending on what you chose to aim at while it was charging. If you focus on a single enemy, it’ll also stop charging once it’s set to do enough damage to kill it. This means a lower cooldown time a lot of the time, since you don’t have to charge it all the way if you don’t want. This is useful for groups of moderate to fairly strong enemies who aren’t placed near each other. However, charging her special to full takes longer than with the other character, and isn’t ideal for most boss fights.
Isa doesn’t auto-target what he’s shooting, and instead of his charge blast being able to auto-target what he’s charging at and target multiple enemies, it’s just one massive explosion that kills/hurts anything in the blast radius. This makes him great for boss fights, but gives him a disadvantage against lesser enemies that are placed far apart, since he’ll have to wait for his special to cool down before taking out the next one and he’ll be stuck with regular shots until it does. His special charges more quickly, though, and, as I already said, he’s the preferable character for boss fights. Beat the game with both characters and you unlock Isa and Kachi mode, where you can switch between the two at will, and supposedly get a bonus ending. This is how I’ll be playing, and losing, during Hard mode.
One thing that differentiates this game from Star Fox 64 is that it uses the freedom it gives you. In the first Sin and Punishment, that evil bitch gravity held you down to the ground, and you had to use double jumps and regular jumps a bunch. This actually worked really well, but S&P2 throws that out the window and says, “It’s just like the first game, but you can fly.” No longer does gravity fight you every step of the way, seeking to drag you mercilessly to your death. Tim Rogers of ActionButton.Net complained about this for reasons that don’t make much sense to me, saying “Because you can fly, why would you ever not fly?” Other than the part of one level that makes you, or the vehicle stage where you are constantly earthbound? You’d stay airborne. So? You can dodge into the air and it is quick, and you don’t really suffer for it. Even if you argue taking away gravity takes something more from the game, what it gives it is worth so much more.
Most of the time you’re moving along a set path, it is a rail shooter after all. However, certain boss fights either get rid of the set path completely, or take away a dimension of it. In Stage 2, for example, you fight a giant, mechanical… thing, that rotates and shoots lasers. You can fly in horizontal circles around it. I was pleasantly surprised to find this out, as other games had gotten me so used to flying around the confining square that is my television screen. Being able to fly circles around my foe was new to me, at least within this genre, and it was well executed.
There’s another boss fight where the enemy is around you, and flies circles around you, and you are flying in circles to dodge its attacks and get in positions to shoot it. Yet again, it gave me freedom, and made good use of that freedom.
The climax of the freedom the game gave me was during one of the final boss fights where I thought the game was steering me aimlessly around the boss, and I was just supposed to dodge or shoot during one of the rare instances that the opportunity provided itself. Suddenly, like a burlap sack full of doorknobs, it hit me. I was flying around aimlessly because I was in control, and I hadn’t been using it. I was playing a rail shooter but I could fly above, behind, below, in front of, or any cross-which-ways that I wanted. I had an entire sphere of movement available me for this boss fight, unlike every other Wii rail shooter ever where you arere riding in a tramcart through a haunted house full of zombies/aliens/alien zombies. Yet again, the game had blown my mind.
Not that the game throwing the rule of rail shooters out the window was anything new by this point. Stage 3 is entirely sidescroller, giving me a very Castlevania feel, and you have to interact with the background to get past some parts without taking damage. A rail shooter using puzzle solving, the kind where you have to use your brain, in a way that doesn’t break the flow?! Dear God I think we have a miracle on our hands. Or how about the boss fight where I was sidescrolling and sword fighting a samurai chick, deflecting her blows at the last second to stun her? That do anything for you? Or the boss fight that starts off like the Ice Climbers stage of Smash Bros? How about when the game suddenly decided it was a fighting game for one boss fight and I had flashbacks to MGS? This game mixes up the formula so well and so regularly that no matter what you expect, it will always surprise you, and you will love the game for it.
Graphically, it’s pretty great for the Wii. It’s not realistic, but it doesn’t try to be, so it’s fine. The monster designs are amazing, and almost every major boss fight is memorable for appearance alone. Whether you’re shooting flying eyeballs as they soar past you, or knocking mutant crabs at the hilariously titled “Cock Keeper” boss (It’s a giant chicken what), you can remember it all simply because of visuals, and the gameplay only reinforces that feeling and how much it stays with you. My only complaint with how it looks is the character models. Did any of you see that old movie called The Dark Crystal, where the cast was entirely puppets? The characters look like the main characters from the movie. I think it’s mostly that the eyes are too big, but something about the facial structure just seems off on some major scale, and it took me a while to get used to. They also look really, really tired, but that’s probably my imagination.
Musically, I was very impressed, and as such I am a proud owner of the soundtrack. The background music for stages is very good, and the boss music is appropriately epic, assuming you aren’t too busy shouting profanities at the television screen to hear it.
Yes, the game is hard, stays hard, and I love it for it. The levels have a good balance of remaining challenging without forcing you to replay the same section ad nauseum, assuming you are playing on an appropriate difficulty, and the boss fights will often take several attempts, or dozens for some of the harder ones. Near the end of the game it becomes an outright bullet hell shooter, and not even the fact that some of the shots are deflectable/destroyable will save you. The final boss marathon requires such skill with both the dodge mechanic, and yes you can dodge through lasers and are required to to survive, and the sword that no matter how good you think you are at either, it will quickly convince you otherwise. As with its predecessor, you are heavily advised to play through on Easy first, even if it does make you feel like a pussy.
The game has multiplayer, and although I have no first hand experience with it, it seems to boil down to a friend pointing the Wiimote at the screen and making stuff explode, without needing to worry about getting exploding himself/herself. You also get to compete with others for score via online leaderboards. As should be obvious, killing enemies in the game nets you points and increases your multiplier, which can go all the way to x16, though why it stops there I do not know. If you’re a manly badass who can make girls orgasm merely by flexing, just beat the stage and upload your score. For everyone not named NonCon, you’ll probably get a game over, your score will return to zero and you’ll start over from one of the game’s frequent checkpoints. The game manages to be extremely unforgiving for not having a lives system.
You may also notice that there is a timer, similar to that in the first game, where if the timer hit zero it began to drain your health ever so slowly. In contrast, S&P2’s timer just takes your multiplier to zero and you won’t get points for that timed segment. Not every segment is timed though, as it only makes an appearance for a few boss fights, so it’s nothing major, and there’s no real punishment for the time winding all the way down.
The plot? I think there is one possibly maybe! I watched the cutscenes, but I don’t speak Japanese, so take this with a fifty pound bag of salt. Isa, the son of Saki from the first game, and Kachi, his girlfriend, are going into space… because… and somebody attacks there ship for reasons I don’t know. The rest of the game is spent fighting giant monsters called Keepers, and a group of humans (Only not really) named G5. I don’t know why G5 doesn’t like the main characters, and can only assume it is because they are all dicks. This is told over the course of seven fairly long stages, and when it comes to America it may or may not make sense, because, if memory serves, the first game did not make much sense, even in Engrish. However, regardless of whether the plot is any good, the ending fight, which is a throwback to the prior game’s finale, still made me go “Awwwww” much like a teenage girl looking at pictures of puppies.
The final fight is one of many homages to the first game. The sidescrolling stage is a reference to Stage 3-2 of the first one, only it is much, much better than Stage 3-2. One boss uses an attack ripped straight from an early fight in S&P1. There is a fight with an entire battleship. I could go on. I am surprised how well it was able to use these fanservice moments, in that it didn’t feel forced, and got an eager “YESSSSS!” out of me every time. This was refreshingly different from MGS4 where almost every reference to the previous games was “HEY, SNAKE! ISN’T THE PS3 AAAAAAWESOME?”
Sin and Punishment 2 holds a very dear place in my heart, because it is everything that the first was, only better, and it made me actually happy to own a Wii. It had a perfect level of difficulty, and was the right length such that I’m going to play the game many more times before I’m finished, and then I will do it all over again once I buy the localized version. It is the best game to come out this year, and that it didn’t sell better is one of the greatest shames of this console generation. If you don’t buy a copy when it comes out you really, truly lose all right to complain about the lack of unique/fun/difficult games.
Five Kachis Out of Five