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Old 01-06-2009, 10:21 PM   #120
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Troy, MI
Posts: 11,005

Nintendo Wii - Virtual Console
1 Player
Developer - Treasure
Publisher - Nintendo

My Bias
-I had high expectations due to fan praise

My Completion
-Beaten several times on Normal difficulty

Because this is one of the Virtual Consoles “Import” titles, it means that it minimum translation was done to make the game playable. The player does not need to understand Japanese at all in order to grasp this game.

This games storyline makes utterly no sense at all. As soon as you click start game you are thrown into a grassy field and must start shooting down baddies. At first I thought “oh well, this is more of an arcade title anyways guess it doesn’t have a story.” But then after the first stage ends the cut scenes begin to start. These cut scenes are so random it’s almost impossible to tell what’s going on. Furthermore there is nothing in place to explain to the player what the heck is going on. Important sounding characters appear only to die minutes later, the main characters have a goal in mind, but by the next stage they are off on some completely unrelated tangent. It feels like there is a lot more to this game and I’m jumping in the middle of a grander story. I just found it impossible to follow.

This isn’t all because it’s Japanese either. I am a big time Anime fan and can watch most Japanese cartoons without getting lost. The story in Sin & Punishment just isn’t told well at all. It’s kind of a shame too, because from what I’m able to piece together the overall story and themes of this game could actually be really good if done right.

I really have no idea whats going on. NO idea.

From what I understand the story follows a young group of adventurous youth, the main boy Saki, his girlfriend Airan and some really powerful magic girl named Achi. They are out on a mission to stop the “Ruffians”, alien type creatures, from invading earth. Both Saki and Airan have super powers as well because they were given some of Achi’s blood. Then there is a bad guy who was also given Achi’s blood who opposes you, fighting ensues. Later Saki turns into a mecha? Then they go inside of his internal organs? Then somehow end up in the future? That’s about all I could pull from this games story. The best part is that they are all instantly skippable.

This game also has English voice acting. I have no idea why a Japanese import title has English voice acting with Japanese subtitles, but all the more better for us English speaking players. A lot of the voice work is actually pretty decent considering its Japanese people speaking English. There isn’t a hint of Japanese accents. But other times the voices are impossible to make out. The characters say sentences that just don’t make any sense, and garble their speech. I was able to figure out what was going on more from the choreography than the actual speech.

This game uses an extremely gritty art style. The characters have a lot of dark accents on them and give off a very “dirty” look.

Most the characters and monsters in this game are also painfully sharp. I mean poke out your eye with their knee caps sharp. Perhaps this was part of the intended visual style, but I didn’t care for it. The problem with these sharp polygons is that they stick through each other. You can see many instances where they polygons overlap and it comes off looking sloppy.

One of the best looking stages in the game

The camera angles in this game are nothing short of amazing. Zooming in and out, zipping around corners, it makes for a really exciting game to watch. One minute the camera will be behind your character, the next will be viewing everything upside-down while flying through the air.

In terms of effects and overall look this game is good by N64 standards. There are lots of flashy effects and explosions which are nice to look at. A lot of the game is spent keeping track of what you’re shooting at so not much time is spent dwelling on the visuals.

Tons of stuff to shoot

It feels like the developer, Treasure, really dropped the ball here. Most of the music is this soft mellow “rock”. Let me make it clear, the music is SOFT. I hear guitars going, it sounds like they are “rocking out”, but it all sounds like its coming through a softening filter that keeps it from being exciting. Not once did I ever feel fueled by the music, and in such an action intense game I see that as a big drawback.

None of the games tracks jump out as memorable. That’s a shame too because this games action would have been a perfect fit for an energetic and catchy soundtrack. No way would I listen to this games soundtrack outside of the game.

For those who have never heard of this game before, Sin & Punishment plays like an on-foot Starfox game. If you have played the Landmaster missions in Starfox 64 then you have an idea of how the game plays. Like Starfox, this is a Rail Shooter, meaning you don’t get to freely move around and just shoot at things by pushing a cursor around with the analog stick. However unlike Starfox the aiming cursor is independent of your characters movement giving a lot more mobility. A lot of the movement feels like it was inspired by fast paced Anime, letting you double jump and perform dodge rolls.

You only get one kind of gun during the game, but it can switch between two different bullets. Orange bullets fly straight and do a lot of damage, and blue bullets do less damage but allow you to lock on to targets. I found that the game was actually harder using the blue bullets because it takes FOREVER to kill things that way. Besides, there are only 1-2 instances during the game when an enemy moves so fast its hard to aim.

You also have a sword that can slash enemies up close. This does a ton of damage and is a great way of keeping enemies out of your face (never understood why in games getting sliced with a sword does more damage than a barrage of plasma bullets). The sword is also awesome because you can use it to reflect missiles, sending them flying to wherever your cursor is placed.

Swords are always more powerful than guns

Now this all might sound cool as heck, and trust me it pretty much is. But the controls are frustrating as heck. This is one of the hardest games to control I have ever played. If there was ever a poster child for Wii’s philosophy that games are now too complex, this is it. I’m not talking like Street Fighter complexity, where certain moves are just hard to perform. What I’m talking about is the amount of buttons and commands you must constantly keep track of in your head. Aiming, Switching Bullets, Avoiding danger, Rolling, Double Jumping, Reflecting. It’s not a very intuitive setup and after beating the game several times I still struggle.

Try dodging stuff like this while keeping your aim

Some of the stages flip into side scrolling stages that resemble a 2D platformer. These would be awesome as heck but the confusing controls are even worse here. Luckily there aren’t many of these stages.

Almost all of the boss fights in this game rule. They have learnable patterns and it’s really fun to get their pattern down and conquer them. Especially because on normal mode their difficulty is pretty high, I have died on several occasions. Once you learn a boss’s pattern and start dodging their attacks it makes for some really intense fights that look really awesome. It’s not often that the actual gameplay sections of video game look entertaining.

Dosen't get cooler than pushing the boss off the buildings edge with bullets.

As far as the localization goes on Virtual Console, they didn’t change much. All the menus are now translated into English but that’s about the extent of it. It’s not my place to criticize the efforts behind Virtual Console, because I honestly have no idea what goes behind making a game. But why does this game cost $2 more than all the other N64 games when the only difference is a translated main menu? To me it doesn’t seem like that would be much extra work, but who knows it also could be licensing.

Overall this game feels like its straight out of the Arcade. The action is instant, its fast, and it’s a ton of fun. I think that’s why I love this game so much, especially now on Virtual Console. No loading, No profiles, No cut scenes, No finding save points. One click from the Wii menu and I’m almost instantly in the action blasting away with no obligations forcing me to keep going once I’ve had my fill. Sin & Punishment has that cool “always hold down the fire button” arcade feel to it that is hard to describe but gives off such an adrenaline rush.

Lasting Appeal
My first time through I beat the game in about 2 hours. Sin & Punishment is very re-playable much like your typical Starfox game is. The story, graphics, and music aren’t going to keep you around but that’s a testament to just how fun the gameplay is. It is one of my most replayed Virtual Console games.

Final Thoughts
After putting a lot of time into it I will say that this is one of the best N64 games of all time and it’s such a blessing to have localized. For $12 this game is a steal.

This game was also never released outside of Japan, so it should be new to everybody. That kind of nullifies the “not paying money for old ROMs!” argument. If you enjoy arcadey, fast paced, “blast everything” games then do yourself a favor and buy this.

Gameplay Video

Last edited by Seraph; 09-01-2009 at 09:33 PM.
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