There comes a time in every man’s life where your favorite game systems become obsolete and make way for their new shinier offspring. Games without strong franchises become forgotten to time and your favorite game company focuses on something else. Throughout November and December, I am doing a retrospective on the hidden gems on the Wii; one-hit wonders, if you will. These games have smaller franchises attached to them or have unique gameplay to their Wii port (Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, Dead Space: Extraction, etc.). With the WiiU available for over a year now, what will be the lasting legacy of the Nintendo’s best selling console? WiiFit, Wii Sports, Zumba, kids games, and shovelware are the first thoughts that come to any gamer’s mind. The family-friendly controls– resembling a television remote is no coincidence– and the comfortable user interface transformed the console into the ultimate family fun machine. The Nintendo Wii’s history eerily mirrors that of the Nintendo Entertainment System. As many classic gamers know, the NES was Nintendo’s panacea to the video game crash of the 1980’s, slyly marketing the system as an “Entertainment System” and producing game carts (in America) that could be mistaken for VHS tapes. Nintendo’s goals have always (more or less) been targeted towards expanding the gaming market towards people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. While some may say Nintendo has forsaken “true” gamers this past generation, a closer look at the more obscure games will prove otherwise. Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is proof that the Nintendo Wii not only has excellent traditional games, but also one of the best of the entire console generation.
Developed by hidden gem stalwart Treasure in 2010, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is one of the few sequels released by the company. Riding the coattails of its predecessor only released in Japan on the N64, the cabal shooter satiated light gun and space shooter fanatics eager for the arcade experience on the Nintendo Wii. Despite the Wiimote being a superior light gun all on its own, there are very few games on the system that utilize it in that fashion. Treasure is known for their unique games for the Sega Genesis, Saturn, and Dreamcast. Gunstar Heroes, Ikaruga, Radiant Silvergun, and Guardian Heroes have provided innovative gameplay and redefined entire genres. Sin and Punishment is no exception to the Treasure’s avant garde library.
Defined loosely as a Cabal Shooter, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor exceeds any and all genre expectations. If I were to define the game, I would call it a mix between Space Harrier, Cabal, Ikaruga, and a Sega arcade light gun game. Divided into seven stages, you will guide your character through challenging environments across a futuristic Japan. The greatest challenge isn’t dodging and killing the mindless grunts throughout each stage, but fighting three bosses of increasing difficulty. Some bosses are incredibly easy, while some will take forever to defeat. While the game is easier than most space shooters on 16-bit consoles, finishing each stage takes strategy even with a half dozen or so checkpoints.
A promising, but largely underdeveloped storyline guides Isa and Kachi throughout outer space and inner space. Here is an excerpt from the manual (I can’t really seem to summarize it):
“Our universe is divided into two dimensions– inner space and outer space–that are locked in an eternal power struggle. In order to defend against outer space, the leaders of inner space have created several planets known as “earths” where they cultivate aggressive life-forms called act as inner space’s defensive front line.”
When the humans begin to rebel against their overlords, the inner space lords wipe out the entire planet and start over again. You play as Isa Jo, an inner space soldier who is sent on a secret mission to destroy an outer space recon unit, Kachi. Kachi and Isa Jo become friends, and, as a result, the inner world leaders send out an elite group of fighters, known as the Nebulox, to destroy the duo. Thus, the story continues as the team travel throughout Japan defeating a Nebulox fighter at the end of each stage, ending with a boss parade at the end. I’m glad I had the manual because I could barely follow this story from the cutscenes. Nevertheless, the cut scenes are short and sweet, never once distracting the player from the bullet hell action.
Fluid and accurate controls keep the game from being too frustrating. You control either Kachi or Isa’s movement across the screen Space Harrier-style with the nunchuk and aim at enemies with the Wiimote. Holding down B will unleash a steady stream of bullets onto the enemies, while holding down A will charge up your charge shot. You can also use melee attacks by tapping B. The melee attack is the weakest part of the controls, as you only absolutely need it for one boss battle. Melee attacks are very frustrating since it is impossible to evade while doing the attack. The stage 3 Nebulox took me at least 10 tries to beat because of the terrible melee attack. Be prepared to get trigger happy wit the Z button, it will help you evade all attacks, so there is no need to dodge every bullet like a space shooter. Despite its great controls, a selection of only a blaster and charge shot make the game a little boring.
Visually, the game has amazing environmental and character design. The shining achievement in design would have to be the bosses, both technically and visually. Within each stage, you will fight several bosses. One or two of these will be “Keepers”, giant monsters defending earth from invasion like an immune system. The keepers are massive and beautifully designed. Some bosses can only be injured a certain way which keeps the fights from becoming too repetitive. During one stage, for example, you must detach train carts to kill a sabertooth boss, while not leaving the ground for more than seven seconds. As Treasure consists of former Konami employees, I can’t help but compare the boss fights to such classic games, like Contra Hard Corps and their own Gunstar Heroes. Although the game gives you many checkpoints, the difficulty doesn’t subside but saves you the pain of starting from the beginning.
Overall, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is a must-have for the system. It provides several hours of bullet-hell madness and classic old-school boss fights. Treasure joyously combined all of the best aspects of vertical shooters, lightgun games, and run-and-guns. Unique to the system and the console generation, Star Successor may just remain the Wii’s best kept secret.