Nintendo has often been accused of alienating the “core gamer” demographic with the Wii. Truth is, the Wii has many games that rival those of the other two seventh-generation consoles. One simply has to find them. However, while “core” third-party experiences are a dime a dozen on the console, frequent game droughts have become a root cause of the Wii’s sour reputation among gamers. Just two years ago, when Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit and Wii Music all became bestsellers, people were clamoring for new, fresh and innovative experiences.
Enter Treasure, a developer with a massive cult fanbase among gamers. Over the years, they’ve had many critically acclaimed and commercially successful games that span a wide variety of genres and emphasize innovation. With the exception of the popular hack-n-slash Guardian Heroes, their well-received Bleach fighting games, and the platformers Silhouette Mirage, Dynamite Headdy and Mischief Makers, Treasure is mainly known for its arcade-style shooters. Radiant Silvergun, Bangai-O and Ikaruga turned the top-down shooter upside its head, and their debut game Gunstar Heroes, as well as Alien Soldier, gave new life to the classic run-and-gun game. But most notably, their N64 rail shooter Sin and Punishment took elements from Treasure’s shooters and put them in a rail shooter format.
Regrettably, the original Sin and Punishment was released on the N64 quite late in its life cycle, killing hope for a Western release. Seven years later, however, Nintendo wisely used the Wii’s Virtual Console service to finally bring the game out of its home country. It quickly became my favorite N64 game of all time, and when Treasure announced the development of a Wii sequel, I was ecstatic. Despite the original game’s high sales on the VC, I was still quite surprised that Nintendo would want to localize such a niche game. Sadly, any shooter whose genre doesn’t begin with “first person” or “third person” won’t exactly sell gangbusters in the US. And while Nintendo’s lack of marketing made Sin and Punishment: Star Successor suffer the same fate, it’s a game that no shmup-loving Wii owner should miss out on.
If you haven’t played the original Sin and Punishment, the gameplay is quite similar to other rail shooters such as Space Harrier, Star Fox and Panzer Dragoon. In other words, while you’re on rails, you’re free to roam around the screen, hover, and shoot, and you can even use melee attacks at any time (unlike in the first game) or charge your weapon for a more deadly attack. For players who want to climb up the online leaderboards, there’s even a score multiplier. It’s great that Treasure accounts for nearly every playing style in nearly every game setting: Difficulty levels range from easy to hard, and there are four different control methods available. While the Wiimote and Nunchuk controls are the most precise method of aiming, you can also use the Classic Controller or Gamecube Controller if you so wish. It’s even compatible with the Wii Zapper.
The game itself is split up into seven chapters, each with about three or four minibosses and one giant boss. However, since Star Successor is a Treasure game, things are mixed up quite often. The two characters you can choose from, Isa and Kachi, both have radically different shooting characteristics: Isa can lock on manually, while Kachi does so automatically, and Isa’s charge shot creates a huge blast, while Kachi’s targets several enemies at once. The stages have a lot of variety, with dizzying numbers of baddies on screen for you to shoot, and the boss fights are really entertaining at times – but even the most hardcore players are all but guaranteed to get killed by one of them at some point in the game.
The game’s presentation is unlike anything else on the Wii. Although it’s on a low-res system, Star Successor‘s graphics are still among the best the console has to offer, with absolutely no slowdown to be found and a great amount of detail. The soundtrack is mainly pumping techno, which fits the game’s mood rather well. As with the first game, the only major problem is the story, which is a convoluted and somewhat cheesy sci-fi yarn about some genetically enhanced humans and an evil plot to destroy the world. It’s told through dual audio cutscenes that look pretty cool, but do little to explain much. To be blunt, though, this is not a game you play for a good story.
All in all, if you’re a shmup fan who owns a Wii, Star Successor‘s no-holds-barred gameplay, fantastic graphics, tons of options, and low price (it can be had for $20 at most places these days) make it well worth a look.
Note: This game is also known as Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Skies in PAL territories.
#OPR’s Review System:
5= Fantastic Game. A must buy game. As close to a perfect game as a game can possibly be.
4= Great Game. You should seriously consider buying this game.
3= Good Game. The game will likely appeal to the fans of the genre or series.
2= Poor Game. There is just something off about the game. Only the most devoted fans should buy this game.
1= Fail Game. We cannot in good conscience recommend this game to anyone, it is that bad.