Sin & Punishment Star Successor Review

Sin & Punishment Star Successor [Only available on Wii]
ESRB Rating: T
Players: 1-2
Genre: Shooter
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Treasure
Release Date: June 27th, 2010

Parent Talk: Sin & Punishment Star Successor is a third-person rail shooter, meaning you shoot everything and anything on the screen.  There’s no blood or gore, just lots of explosions and intense action.  Japanese developer Treasure has a solid reputation for crazy action games, some of which are available on Virtual Console (Gunstar Heroes/the original Sin and Punishment).  This game is easy for kids thanks to its simplicity.  Parents looking to avoid mindless violence for their children may want to steer clear, Star Successor but it’s not really a poor choice either way.

North American gamers finally gained domestic access to Treasure’s epic N64 shooter Sin & Punishment via the Wii’s Virtual Console , and it’s great.  No one expected the legendary development studio to bring a sequel for it though, but it’s finally happened—Star Successor is here.  The gist of it?  It rocks from beginning to end.  Is Treasure capable of making a bad game?   Star Successor isn’t merely one of Wii’s best action games, it’s one of Wii’s best, period.

The Great:

Super intense action.  From start to finish, Star Successor barrages players with enemies.  Monsters come left and right, the bosses are huge [and continuous], and the controls are spot-on to take ’em all down.  Treasure is about simplicity, and therein lies the beauty.  This is the ideal game to pick up and play, zap some monsters and pursue higher scores.  Most games are concerned with tutorial missions and/or long-winded plots; Star Successor is short and to the point.  It’s difficult, but not overly so.

The Good:

+ Excellent control.  The Classic and GameCube controllers (and Zapper) are supported, but the usual Wii-mote/nunchuk setup is ideal.  It’s perfect to use the IR pointer for aiming, while moving the character with the analog stick.  Furthermore, the character can move in front of the camera, even while the AI-controlled view changes.  All the while, you blast enemies, and their incoming attacks.  Who you use determines if lock-on is manual or automatic, and switching between rapid fire, charge blasts and sword strikes is seamless.

+ Epic boss sequences.  Boss encounters could very well be entire levels on their own!  Each is unique and awesome, sometimes spanning multiple forms.  Their patterns aren’t hard to decipher, but still challenging to avoid, so taking down a boss is oh-so-satisfying.

+ Pulse-pounding soundtrack.  The techno beats help the action move at a frantic pace, and the great sound effects complete the experience.  Lame music in an action game just doesn’t cut it.

+ Striking visuals.  There are always tons of explosions and light beams going off, making Star Successor great in motion eye candy.  The boss designs are cool and creative, ranging from mutated underwater creatures to gigantic robots.  The characters’ aesthetic design is notably Japanese, but it only adds to the game’s flair, despite the cover designs looking strange compared to their in-game counterparts.  The frame rate runs smoothly, despite the impressive on-screen action.  The graphics aren’t the most sophisticated on the Wii, but SS is no less a pretty game.

+ Online leaderboards.  Players can upload scores to compete with others around the globe.  Sadly, there are no achievements/trophies to speak of, which would fit Star Successor perfectly.  Oh well, leaderboards are always a nice addition.

The Bad:

– A short game.  Completing the adventure requires about five hours, which may be a deal-breaker considering the $49.99 price tag.  I would argue that Star Successor thrives on its appeal to be replayed over and over.  It’s a great choice to just randomly enjoy shooter action on a rainy day.  Still, length is a legitimate concern for those who would consider a purchase.

– Limited co-op.  Co-op is great, but only one character appears on the screen.  Lame.  I’m not sure why this is the case; the game could clearly handle otherwise.  Perhaps they thought a second avatar would’ve been confusing, but it lessens the experience for player two.

– Thin plot.  There is a story, but not much reason to care about it.  Besides, it’s all about shooting everything.  S&P doesn’t have a need for memorable canon, so I don’t blame the developers for writing something thin.  Gunstar Heroes and Ikaruga didn’t convey emotional plots either.

The Ugly:

-The voice work.  Next time, can we keep the Japanese voices, please?

The Lowdown:

No one expected Sin & Punishment Star Successor’s arrival, but I’m eternally grateful for it.  It’s one of Wii’s finest action offerings, no bones about it.  The length is the black sheep factor when deciding on a purchase ($49.99 for five hours), but the replay value and all-around quality of this third party’s efforts nets the game my seal of approval.

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