Bullets from Heaven
Sin and Punishment, a fast-paced rail shooter, never got much of a chance to succeed outside Japan. Though it had English voice acting and required little localization (the subtitles were in Japanese), it was released close to the end of the Nintendo 64′s life cycle, but became a popular pick when it was released on the Wii’s Virtual Console service. A sequel was almost guaranteed, and Sin and Punishment: Star Successor made its way across shores, to the delight of many of its fans.
You have a choice of playing as either Isa (a human boy and the son of Saki and Airan from the previous game) or Kachi (an alien girl whom he befriends), and fight your way through seven stages of soldiers, mechs, monsters, and bullets…lots and lots of bullets. Isa uses a manual-aiming gun and a powerful charged shot, while Kachi’s gun automatically locks onto nearby enemies, as does her charged attack. In the original Sin and Punishment, the game could only be controlled with the N64 controller (or Gamecube or Classic controller if you’re playing the Virtual Console version), which required the player to pay as much attention to the controller as it did with the many bullets and obstacles coming at the player on-screen. The controller setup is still present for the sequel, but now players have the benefit of using the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to control the action, which feels much more natural.
Sin and Punishment 2 has also received a big graphical and sound upgrade from its predecessor (and two previous console generations). Character models don’t look jagged or blocky, and, with the exception of a few bits of slowdown, runs at a constantly smooth 60 frames-per-second. The music can be a bit too quiet to hear in spots, but it certainly fits the desperate mood of your mission quite well.
The game is challenging enough for most players to get into without being overly frustrating. Checkpoints are generous, so you won’t be forced to repeat long stretches of the game if you get killed (and even if you die at a boss and then decide to save the game, you can pick up your progress again right at that boss battle). You have a choice of three difficulty levels when you start playing the game: Easy, Normal, and Hard. Don’t be fooled by the “Easy” label, though…you’ll still have quite a hard time on any of the difficulty levels (the higher ones throw more enemies at you and change their shot patterns) unless you learn how to lock-on, dodge, and time your shots effectively.
It’s possible to play through the game with a friend at your side, but unfortunately, the second player doesn’t actually get to be on-screen with you, and can only assist with an additional targeting cursor to help take down bad guys you can’t shoot. Some of this can be excused for plot reasons, but it really makes the whole thing feel superfluous. Regardless of that, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is a solid follow-up to a game that most of us never got the chance to play. If you’re a shoot-em-up fan or one who doesn’t mind having your reflexes challenged, then play this game today.