Review – Sin & Punishment Star Successor

Sin & Punishment: Star Successor is a bit of a weird situation, and I’m not just talking about the game itself, though we’ll get to that. It’s a sequel from Treasure, a legendary developer with a strong aversion to creating sequels. It’s published by Nintendo who, at the time, was more focused on creating family friendly content for their hyper-popular Wii console. The commission for a sequel to the original Sin & Punishment likely came from Nintendo themselves, but why? It’s not like the first game was considered a financial success. It was a Japan exclusive title released in the waning days of the N64, and it wasn’t released in North America until it landed on the virtual console.

It’s some strange math indeed, but somehow that all came together and a sequel was decided on. I’m not saying that Sin & Punishment didn’t deserve a sequel, but from a business standpoint, it’s surprising that it happened at all. However, it happened

I don’t know what’s going on in this screenshot, but it’s probably awesome!

GOOD MORNING, KACHI

Oh, golly, this is one to unravel. Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, like the first game, is an on-rails shooter similar to the Star Fox formula. In addition to just shooting everything with your default blaster, you have a charge shot that can lock on and can whack enemies when they come up close. You can also use your melee attack to deflect certain projectiles back at the baddies if you’re a smooth enough operator. Unlike the first game, which was largely ground-based, you can fly in this one using a hover backpack for Isa and a hoverboard for Kachi.

In a way, it plays a lot like the original game, but unlike the original, it isn’t an hour long, it’s something like five times that. It’s also a lot more difficult, flashier, weirder, and just as varied. That’s a mix of good and bad, but suffice to say, if you love Treasure, this very much feels like their work.

Take the nebulous, bizarre, and borderline impenetrable storyline. You play as either Isa Jo, a human and member of… some sort of, like, military or something, or Kachi, an alien who everyone says is dangerous. But Isa is like, “Well, she doesn’t look dangerous, so screw you.” That’s the basic premise, anyway; everyone wants Kachi dead and Isa betrays everyone to blindly protect her. This better be love or Isa has a lot of explaining to do because there’s no other force on earth can make someone behave so astonishingly stupid.

EXPLAINING TO DO

So, Isa and Kachi crash land on the remains of Earth-4, a copy of Earth that was ravaged by the creators, a mysterious group that doesn’t really play into the story in any major capacity. In order to save Kachi, Isa decides the best course of action is to find a way off of Earth-4, which is a good start, but this doesn’t seem like a situation you can just run from. After all, he’s pursued by the ridiculously named Nebulox, and they don’t seem to be terrestrially confined.

It’s hard to peg how I feel about the plot. At its core, it’s one big chase sequence involving two people who are maybe in love? Beneath it all, there’s a running theme of what makes us human. In typical Treasure style, characters are introduced like we already know them, so there isn’t much development. The motivation of Isa is, as previously poked at, pretty questionable, but at least it plays into the games larger theme. In typical Treasure fashion, it’s bizarre, but not in a quirky way. It’s straight-face weird. That’s not going to appeal to everyone.

Star Successor is an odd successor to an odd game.

BIZARRE, BUT NOT IN A QUIRKY WAY

I’m a little lukewarm on the whole hovering mechanic in Star Successor. I prefer being grounded in the original title, but I will gladly admit that Star Successor takes you on one hell of a ride. The variety of the original title is on display here but stretched over a much longer game. You’ll tear down a highway, travel through an underwater tunnel, and even fly through space in your mission to protect a perfect stranger. It’s pretty impressive the diversity in situations on display.

Speaking of being grounded, Star Successor is anything but. Sin & Punishment was weird to start with, but at least it had the pretense of existing on Earth. A lot of Star Successor takes place in sci-fi corridors, and that removes some of the atmosphere. You’re given place names in Japan to give you an idea of where you are, but all these places feel alien and detached. It loses a lot of its sense of proportion. In retrospect, I appreciated that the original Sin & Punishment mixed its bizarre plot with terrestrial environments.

Star Successor could take place in any sci-fi environment. In fact, its setting could be any place and time. The links that tie it to the first game are tenuous and could easily be severed without much being lost. Everything in the game floats around in a disconnected manner. Even the enemies aren’t terribly well explained or established. So, basically, you could take away any part of Star Successor’s plot without much impact. Really, you’re just strapped into a roller coaster, and everything that happens around you might as well be a blur.

STRAPPED INTO A ROLLER COASTER

Not that it really matters when you get down to it. The original Sin & Punishment had a poorly defined plot of its own, but it was still a fantastic game. It’s the spectacle that you’re dragged through that’s really important, and Star Successor makes no apologies for trying to force you face into as many intense situations as possible. There’s very little downtime. Most levels contain multiple boss encounters, and sometimes when you think you’re done with a stage, it just keeps on going.

It’s honestly admirable how jam-packed the game is. The two playable characters, Kachi and Isa, each have unique abilities. Beating the game with both of them unlocks a mode where the two cooperate on screen together. Considering the respectable running time that Star Successor already commands, this means there’s a lot of content if you’re the completionist sort.

The biggest deficiency I’ve run into is with the multiplayer. It’s technically co-op, but the second player is some offscreen gunner. It’s a nice addition, but it would have been more compelling if each player controlled their own character. As is, someone is just playing second fiddle.

The hoverboard mechanic doesn’t exactly help the game take flight. Get it?

TREASURE HORDE

As much praise as I have for the game, there’s something about it that doesn’t click for me. I think it largely comes down to the fact that ridiculousness is the rule rather than the exception here. The lack of groundedness, the scale of the bosses, the enemies you fight; everything floats in a void and doesn’t connect. It made it difficult for me to get engrossed in the game, a problem I didn’t have with the original.

Despite that, I still feel the need to strongly recommend Sin & Punishment: Star Successor. It may not have really made a big impact for me, but I feel that if this sort of thing is more your speed, it’s going to be pretty mindblowing. The story may be a fractured mess, but the gameplay itself is so enormously over-the-top, inventive, and varied. Despite how I felt a lack of connection with it, I can’t help but admire the finished product. It’s something that deserves to be recognized.

7/10

This review was conducted on a Wii U using a physical disc copy of the Wii version. It was paid for by the author.

About Adzuken 161 Articles
Adzuken has been gaming for as far back as they can remember. Their eclectic tastes have led them across a vast assortment of consoles and both the best and worst games they have to offer.

Be the first to comment