Sin, challenge and punishment
Star Successor's gameplay is somehow reminiscent of the traditional Star Fox stages. Using one of the game's two protagonists Isa and Kachi, players go through scenarios being attacked by massive waves of enemies that more often than not shoot different kinds of projectiles that are in a large enough quantity to take over the entirety of the screen. While the camera travels automatically, it is possible to move your character of choice around the entire screen while jumping, shooting, dodging, slashing or hovering in the air with your jetpack. Needless to say, the game makes great use of the Wii's pointer allowing players to control an aiming reticule around the screen independently from your character's position, as he will automatically turn around to shoot if the reticule is aiming the other way. This flexible characteristic of the controls scheme bodes extremely well with the jaw-dropping velocity with which enemies pop up and disappear as you progress through the levels.
The other commands are equally straightforward with the holding of the B-button being used for rapid fire of your standard weapon or pressing it to repel incoming projectiles towards enemies, the A-button mapped for a special shot that can only be fired from time to time, Z for dodging – a command you will be constantly using – and C for jumping. The game consists of eight stages that take place in very distinct and original scenarios, and that feature a surprisingly big number of gigantic bosses – most of which will present a real challenge to even the most skilled gamers out there. Although boss battles are quite frequent, they never lose their charm as each one of those showdowns is creative in their own way and extremely thrilling. Due to that quality, and the very well placed checkpoints, the constant deaths that are bound to come from facing so many powerful creatures in such a short span of time are far from being frustrating; instead, chances are gamers will be more than willing to try again right after being beat down by those creatures.
Eight stages is an undeniably underwhelming amount, especially for a game that moves as fast as Star Successor. Despite all the Game Over screens players will stumble upon on their way to ultimate victory the game can be cleared within six hours on a first playthrough of the normal level of difficulty, but clearing Sin and Punishment 2 is not even half of the fun the title holds. Coupled with a short story mode is a highly addictive scoring system that uses a clever mechanic of multipliers, an inviting mix for multiple playthroughs. Multipliers go up as enemies are killed, and the higher the multiplier is the more points players will earn for killing even the weakest of enemies. However, what goes up also goes down and the value in those will dramatically decrease if you happen to take even a single hit. Therefore Sin and Punishment rewards the most insane players out there that have enough skills and patience to practice until they manage to go through an entire stage without being hit by one of the thousands of millions of shots that will be fired towards Kachi or Isa.
While it is extremely beneficial to some, the scoring system is plain evil to others as it punishes death by completely clearing your score up to that point, instead of punishing players who use a continue by taking away some points out of their total. As a consequence in order to upload a mildly decent score to the game's great online leaderboards a players will have to first gather the ability to go through an entire stage without dying even once, which happens to be a very hard task. Due to that the game can be absolutely satisfying to those who have a lot of time to learn every nook and cranny of the stages, while being slightly unappealing to anyone that is not good enough to traverse an entire stage without being greeted by the Game Over screen. Sin and Punishment 2 is that mean.
If on the gameplay side of things Sin and Punishment does quite well aside from a few flaws, the same can't be said of the story that serves as a background for all the impressive action. Isa and Kachi are basically fleeing from a mysterious group called Nebulox, which have taken a sudden interest in killing Kachi. Gamers who played the original will have an easier time following the plot's developments than newcomers since the game does not go out of its way to precisely explain what is happening. Besides, the cutscenes that are used to move the story forward suffer from poor execution, downright bad voice acting, dialogues revealing very poor writing and – as a consequence of al those unfortunate facts – characters that are shallow and really hard to care about. Therefore, the fact that cutscenes can be skipped at will is going to be very well-received by gamers as most will be dying to go back to the action that was interrupted by yet another pointless film.
From a technical standpoint Sin and Punishment 2 is quite an achievement. Although the fixed nature of the game's screen progression makes it easier for hardware to handle all the rendering, it is impossible to deny the greatness of the game's visuals. The scenarios are beautifully varied, and they are produced as naturally as steady as they could possibly be given that at certain points in the game there could be over 50 enemies and projectiles moving on the screen at the same time. Another noteworthy visual achievement is the title's great ability to shift the camera's perspective so naturally, as on one moment you could be going through a side-scrolling section only to a few seconds later be thrown into a third-person view of your character. The game's songs, while not as catchy as one would expect, do their job in evoking that urgent feeling old-school arcade games featured.
In the end, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor cannot be recommended to everyone, as a purchase is only worth it if players are willing to go through the game many times until they start getting actually good scores to compete on the online leaderbords – due to the game's very short length. The woes with its story and writing can be easily overlooked because not only can they be skipped, but they are also far from being the biggest focus on the game. There is also a local cooperative multiplayer mode that adds a lot of value to the package; sadly, the second player does not have a character on the screen – just an aiming reticule – making the entire experience a little bit too boring to endure since all your pal will do is fire like a maniac while aiming: having no concern whatsoever with dodging. Overall, Star Successor is an absolute must-buy for gamers looking for a truly towering challenge.
Actual Score: 7.9