Treasure has been making some of the most intense action games around since the early '90s when it first wowed us with Gunstar Heroes on the SEGA Genesis. Silhouette Mirage, Bangai-O, Ikaruga... these guys know how to deliver hardcore thrills. Now they've brought their signature run-and-gun-for-your-life gameplay to the Wii with Sin & Punishment: Star Successor. A sequel to a cult Nintendo 64 game that was only released in Japan (although it is now available on the Virtual Console in the United States), this is a strange choice for Nintendo to publish stateside. Shooter fans will be glad the company did, though, because this is one of the best Wii games of the year.
The story here has something to do with protecting a girl who isn't quite human from several bad guys who can transform into gigantic monsters. But you're not playing this game for a gripping story. You want to shoot stuff and blow stuff up, and you'll get to do plenty of that.
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There is something new to see around every corner in Star Successor. From start to finish, this is a wild ride that never gives you a moment to catch your breath. The boss fights remind me of Japanese monster movies and are some of the most impressive battles in recent memory. My only visual gripe is with the look of our two heroes. They remind me of those freaky puppets from the Dark Crystal with their pointy noses and wide eyes. Their voices don't quite match their childlike appearance.
Playing Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is like jumping into an intense action movie. Treasure has created a roller coaster ride full of amazing sights and tense gunfights. Some have described Star Successor as an on-rails shooter, but that's not quite accurate because you can move your character freely around the screen as you can in Ikaruga or Space Harrier. The camera rarely sits still, though, and will pan and zoom to create the most dramatic views possible. Along with shooting your gun, you can lock onto enemies and charge your shots, dash to avoid obstacles, and perform a melee attack.
There are a number of control options like the GameCube controller, Classic Controller, and Wii Zapper, but I like using the Wiimote and Nunchuck just fine. There's also a co-op option where the second player controls another cursor to help the main player, but it's a shame both players can't appear onscreen for a proper co-op experience seeing as how there are two main characters in this game.
Star Successor is a pretty straightforward affair. There are no RPG elements, you don't level up, and there aren't 50 weapons to cycle through. This is a shooter in the purest sense, and it is glorious.
There is no shame in playing Star Successor on Easy mode, because it is anything but. Yes, this is a hardcore game for brave souls looking for a challenge. The game avoids being too frustrating, though, with plenty of generous checkpoints. Spend some time with the game, memorize its patterns, figure out each of the bosses' weaknesses, and you will get better. And getting better in this game is very satisfying. That definitely offsets the short length of the game. The ride only lasts four to five hours, but the experience is so exciting and so rewarding you'll want to play it over and over again. There are also online leaderboards that will keep you competing against players all over the world.