IMPORT - Treasure is a company known for making quality games that usually center on shooting of some kind. The developer's latest, Sin and Punishment, is just that. Featuring a plot that is ten times deeper than that of your average shooter, Sin and Punishment is a short but very exciting ride.
This N64 shooter takes its inspiration from games like Space Harrier and Panzer Dragoon. Your character is seen from a behind-the-back perspective, just like the protagonist in Space Harrier. However, instead of flying, your character runs on the ground, and you can double-jump to avoid incoming projectiles. Firing is handled via an onscreen targeting cursor that is controlled using the analog stick, and the D-pad or C buttons are used to move your character. The cursor has two modes, a free aiming mode and a lock-on mode. The lock-on mode makes the game even easier that it already is, as your cursor will quickly move from target to target. Aside from shooting, your character is also armed with a sword. The sword is mostly used for slicing nearby foes, but in some levels, you'll have to use it to bat projectiles back at your enemies. The game includes a two-player mode, but it simply splits the movement and firing duties between two people, and it's essentially a big waste of time. The game features two difficulty settings and defaults to the easier of the two, so anyone serious about making the game a little challenging will want to immediately opt for the harder setting - though this setting is only slightly harder.
Graphically, Sin and Punishment does things that you wouldn't expect from an N64 game. It features some really excellent explosions and pushes around a ton of onscreen items. At one point, hundreds of small flying enemies start streaking from left to right across the screen. It really gives a good impression of an invasion of Tokyo, and it looks simply striking. Most of the polygonal models in the game have low polygon counts, which is what allows the system to handle lots of onscreen items without causing any major slowdown. Still, even though most of the characters have a fairly blocky look, the game still looks great, and it moves fast enough to cause a little motion sickness. The game sounds great, and the storyline is driven by some excellent English voice work from start to finish.
Sin and Punishment is a lot of fun, but the game's complete lack of difficulty and fairly short length really hurt it. If you can remember to double-jump over incoming shots and tap the Z button every time someone gets close enough to feel your sword, you can walk through Sin and Punishment in about two hours. The story adds a lot to the game, but not so much that you'll be replaying the game over and over again. While the game is enough of a technical and artistic achievement to warrant a US release, no plans to do so have been announced as of this writing.