sin and punishment: successor to the sky

a review of Sin And Punishment: Successor To The Sky 『罪と罰 宇宙の後継者 』tsumi to batsu: sora no koukeisha (japanese title)
a videogame developed by treasure
and published by nintendo
for the nintendo wii
text by tim rogers

3.5 stars

Bottom line: Sin And Punishment: Successor To The Sky is “a veritable monster pancake stack of delicious, sticky frictions.”

Many were wondering when someone would make a Treasure game for the Nintendo Wii. Technically, Treasure did release Bleach: Versus Crusade for the Wii last year, and that was maybe a Treasure game, though seeing as it didn’t make countless references to other Treasure franchises, it didn’t count.

Well, it’s happened. It took Treasure to make a Treasure game for the Wii. Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Sky, whatever that means, is that Treasure game.

When the Nintendo Wii’s controller was first detailed via a thrown together sizzle reel that depicted Japanese teenagers aiming at an unseen television screen whilst borderline cackling with glee, sixteen or so of the internet’s most vocal nerds immediately stood up and declared to the cold, dead silence of our their basements: “This is it. This is what Treasure was talking about, when they made Sin and Punishment.” The announcement of the Virtual Console only lent further credence to the claim: the Virtual Console was invented so that they could put Treasure’s Sin and Punishment up there with the control scheme it deserved, and the entire world would love it and literally dump billions of dollars into Treasure’s lap, finally giving them the financial freedom they need to go on and do all those things we the devoted know that they simply must do — like reboot the currently existing concepts of blockbuster films, television serials, pop music, and / or toothbrushes, et cetera, with That Treasure Attention to Detail we all respect so dearly.

Unfortunately, Nintendo’s announcement that any and all Virtual Console games would support no new features in the name of some fetishistic purity — even going so far as to keep the shoddy screen resolutions in PAL territories — put a damper on our dreams. Then Sin and Punishment was announced and released. Miraculously, it made it to the West, as well, even though it had previously never been released outside Japan.

The World Refused to Burn. Many Treasure fanatics, who had shamefully never played Sin and Punishment, gave it a whirl and nearly died to witness its greatness.

For some reason, when Sin and Punishment 2 was announced, close to nobody wet their pants (except us (winking smiley face)).

Why is this? Why would you want a sequel to Sin and Punishment? Isn’t it nutty enough over there by itself? What could any sequel possibly add to that?

The buzz surrounding Sin and Punishment 2 was so subaudible that it managed to completely slip under our radar and be released at a time when we literally had no idea it was even more than a quarter developed, much less near-complete with a release date announced, much less actually released. There it was, on a shelf, next to Bayonetta, in the New Games section, on October 29th, 2009. We confess: we were at the store to buy Bayonetta. We did buy it, and we hate it. Fuck that game. Fuck Weekly Famitsu for giving it a perfect score. Fuck Japan for letting this shit happen, and for ignoring Sin and Punishment 2. The game opens with a title card in English: “In a world of light and darkness, where perception is reality”. What the fuck does that mean? “Where perception is reality”? Did anyone actually apply any brainpower, there?

ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT THE GAME NOW

So here’s Sin and Punishment 2. It should be noted, however, that the game title actually contains no numeral. This fact is irrelevant. It is, without a doubt, a sequel to Sin and Punishment. Where other Nintendo Wii game developers saw a chance to translate everyday hand movements like vegetable-chopping or flashlight shining to controls in games about chopping vegetables or shining flashlights, Treasure saw and seized the opportunity to use the Wii remote to translate the everyday gestures of playing a hardcore shooting game into a hardcore shooting game.

An urban-myth-like tale has proliferated, on the internet, that Treasure was originally founded by Konami’s Contra team because the team members had gotten tired of making sequels. We have met and conversed with the CEO of Treasure, Mr. Masato Maegawa, and come away with an excellent rumor-busting question-answer: no, Treasure was founded so they wouldn’t have to make sequels of Contra. They wanted to make their own games. They wanted to explore game mechanics that they personally found compelling, instead of making games for the masses. (Back then, Contra was “for the masses”.)

We asked Treasure, don’t you guys want to be rich? Masato Maegawa’s answer was a quick, bold, “No”. They just want to make the games they want to make. So why did they try to make a mascot game (Dynamite Headdy)? Was that a postmodern joke? Why do they make all those Bleach games? For money? Just to stay afloat? Why did they make Sin and Punishment with big, bold 3D cut-scenes and a voice script entirely in English?

Sin and Punishment was huge, for a Treasure game. It took the Panzer Dragoon style of on-rails shooting game to a whole new level. The mechanics were tougher and stickier. The cut scenes were lengthier and much harder to relate to. The bosses were more plentiful. The construction and flow of the game was nothing short of masterpiecely. The game was clearly made with the entire world in mind, with a catch: the “entire world” was a hypothetical projection, an assumption that maybe some day the entire world will be Treasure fans.

Sin and Punishment would have probably been revered as art if Treasure had employed a little better marketing, or maybe waited ten years to make it, and make it in HD. The way it was released, it likely frightened Nintendo of Every Country Except Japan, which meant it never saw release outside Japan. The story was just too obtuse. The cut scenes were just way too long. The words “PRESS START TO SKIP” blink epileptically at the top of the screen throughout every cut scene. The English script was so bad it wasn’t even laughable. It was like watching the opening of Zero Wing mashed-up with a video of someone stomping kittens in grotesque slow motion.

It turns out that Sin and Punishment is based on a “light novel”. The “light novel” is a concept probably unique to the island nation of Japan. Basically, it’s a comic book without pictures. Paragraphs are very, very seldom more than three sentences. One paragraph would usually be one frame of a manga. Characters’ dialogue lines are preceded by a short, complete, present-tense sentence that names the character speaking, the character(s) being spoken to, and maybe an “~ly” adverb. (“Jimbo turns fiercely to Sully: ‘Let’s get the hell out of here.’”) Usually, readers buy light novels because they like the comic artist who contributed the cover. Light novels are basically like junior novelizations of movies too bad to actually exist, aimed at a market made up entirely of kids who have read enough comics to spontaneously conceive and design a fully-drawn manga in their head while they read a light novel.

We haven’t read the Sin and Punishment light novels, because we’re afraid to, or because we’re pretty sure that the complex universe in which plucky resistance fighters blast grotesque alien behemoths who have body parts that exist just so that they can be detonated by other body parts just wouldn’t really work without letting us press the trigger ourselves. Maybe there’s more to them we would assume by just playing the game, though we’re more than happy enough to decide that there isn’t. We rather like the conclusion to which the games have pushed up: in this world, the “Sin” is breathing, and the “Punishment” is death by gunshot wound to the head-equivalent.

Biological life forms are a sin, and they must be punished by being Made Dead.

Robots are a sin, and they must be punished by being destroyed with lasers.

So here’s how you play the game. You are a guy with a gun. Your guy is running at full speed. The camera is behind your back. You use the analog stick on the nunchuk to move your guy around. You use the Wii remote pointer to aim your crosshair. On the Nintendo 64, you used the directional pad to move your guy and the analog stick to aim. Sin and Punishment 2 lets you use a Gamecube pad, for the insipid “purists”. You’d be a fool to use it. The shit in this game gets way too real way too quickly. Get over yourself, and use the fucking Wii remote.

You press the little button on the nunchuk to make your guy jump. You press the big button, in conjunction with a direction on the analog stick, to make him roll. To roll in the “traditional” controls, you have to double-tap a direction on the directional pad. That worked pretty well in the Nintendo 64 game, though in the sequel, as we said in the last paragraph, the shit gets way too real way too fast, so it’s probably better if you just use the instant, one-button roll command.

You press the B button — the trigger button — on the Wii remote to shoot. That’s important! Remember that part! For most of the game, as in any bullet hell experience, you’re going to be following the ABS rule: “Always Be Shooting”.

“Most of the game” implies 99% of the duration, with the other 1% existing as half-second intervals distributed evenly throughout the experience. At these times, you have to let go of the shooting button and then tap it, very gently, like you would an ass. This causes you to swing your sword. In the first Sin and Punishment, the sword was a big long bayonett thing mounted on our gun. In the sequel, it’s a laser-saber thing that comes out of dude’s elbow. Man, whatever. It still works the same: the sword will one-hit kill most enemies that get close to you, and, most importantly, it will reflect certain enemy projectiles.

The sequel adds a new use for the sword: you can use it to literally destroy / absorb about 90% of enemy fire. (The other 10% is either unblockable or reflectable.)

All of the above features were present in Sin and Punishment. The sequel lets you do three new things: lock on, shoot charged shots, and fly. The first two are really awesome. The latter is kind of lame.

You can lock on by pressing the A button — the big round button on top of the Wii remote. You could do something like this in Sin and Punishment, though it required you to press a button to switch your dude into a whole different “firing mode”. It works a lot better as something that’s always turned on.

You hover the cursor around an enemy and gingerly tap the A button to initiate a lock on. A red circle closes around him. Now you can just hold down the fire button as you dance around the screen, dodging projectiles and shooting. The game starts to feel like a bullet hell shooter at some points. Just hold the fire button and move around, confident that you’re hitting something.

When you’re not locked on, you can play the game like a third-person shooter. It’s fun enough this way. Though locking on has its benefits. One of the benefits is huge: when you’re locked on to a dude, any projectiles you hit with your sword will fly directly at that dude.

This is really subtly brilliant. In Sin and Punishment, where you moved the crosshairs with the analog stick, all you had to do when you wanted to “lock on” to an enemy was let go of the analog stick. Maybe the guy would move, or maybe he wouldn’t. Usually he wouldn’t move too much. Then you could sword some projectile in his direction, and pump your fist when you get the kill. The sequel’s lock-on ability gives the level planners license to let the enemies move around a whole hell of a lot more, and also create some really intriguing mini-game-within-a-game scenarios where you find yourself buzzing around the screen trying to knock back reflectable projectiles. The lock on releases every time an enemy is hit with a big hit, even if he’s not killed. So let’s say you’ve got this big robot-thing in the background, and a missile launcher shooting missiles. You lock on to the robot, reflect a missile, and then sweep your crosshairs back over the robot, lock on to him again, buzz over to another missile, and knock it back at him. It’s fun. It feels really sticky, like you’re actually doing something.

Then you have the charge shot. To charge a shot, hover your crosshairs over an enemy and then hold the A button. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to tap the A button to lock on to the enemy before charging the shot. Let go when the shot is fully charged and you will deliver a crushing blow. The charge shot will require about twenty seconds’ of waiting to become usable again. The boy (Isa) has a charge shot that delivers one aggressive blow on one enemy of your choice. The girl (Kachi) has a charge shot that can lock on to and chase multiple targets (like Panzer Dragoon).

Throughout the first half of the game, on any difficulty, firing a charge shot is what you do when you want to take down a big enemy in style. For the second half, it’s something you will do every time the opportunity presents itself. During later boss fights, you will be expected to fire a charge shot at every opportunity, and sword back any swordable projectiles. You will be expected to hit the enemy with your much-stronger-than-your-gun sword attack whenever he is close enough, as well. You will play the game this way, or, in true Treasure fashion, you will suck, and you will not enjoy yourself. Treasure fans enjoy the sermon portion of the games almost as much as they enjoy the experimental coming-to-grips part.

So, Treasure fans, do not be afraid: the sequel to Sin and Punishment pulls no punches. It is the scariest kind of straight-ahead run-and-gun shooter for its first half, and the most teeth-grinding type of perfectionist boss parade for its second half. We got over our hang-ups regarding the first Sin and Punishment‘s terrible story and voice acting, and learned to love the idiocy in the sequel — which weirdly now takes place in a universe where everyone speaks Japanese, where the people cower under the shadow of a weird, sick, evil empire whose entire economy exists to purchase bullets. What in the flaming fuck happens in this story, we don’t know, though we love it so much we’ve played it nine times. We didn’t even skip the cut-scenes for, like, three of those times. They’re so much terser, this time around. There’s less of the burning desire to “explain”. We have our two characters — a boy and a girl he’s trying to protect — on the run from people who want the girl. It turns out the boy was sent to kill the girl — cleverly, before the story begins — though something about her changed his mind. How nice; how small. All of the conversations in the game attack the “give us the girl” line from a different angle. The boy’s retorts similarly reinvent the “Never!” The bad guys have miniature personalities. We have a Japanese girl who has a sword, and a Chinese guy who commands a flaming dragon, and a fat man who can turn into a manta ray or a whole conference of killer whales, for example. At one point, you ride a lizard down a highway while shooting at a giant sprinting tiger. Later, you sprint or fly down a catwalk, sword-deflecting stampeding buffalo at distant airborne gunships. By the end of the game, you’re in space, fighting a monolithic Ikaruga ship. Either way, wherever you are, whatever you are doing, whatever in the hell is “happening” in your character’s immediate surroundings, whatever the enemies / monsters / robots are made of, the conflict is always clear: here’s a guy trying to not die, and succeeding maybe-gorgeously. We love this game. We even love the music — the boss fight themes are so well-produced that we instantly thought, “so this is what Treasure was trying to do with the Mega Drive sound chip!”

Why are we only giving it three and a half stars? Two reasons:

1. They took out the “PLEEEEASE CONTINUE?” and “GET BONUS!” voice samples, and

2. Because there’s too much flying.

The flying kind of sucks. We’re going to sound like purist-posers when we say this: despite the sequel’s bigger set-pieces and heartier, chunky, soup-that-eats-like-a-meal progression, the original was a better game to play at any given moment because of the jumping.

Jumping meant you always knew your place on the screen. It meant that the level planners could always fall back on “give the player something to jump over” in a pinch. You felt more grounded, when attacked by a harrier-like plane-thing. It shot machinegun bullets at your feet, and you jumped over them while skipping horizontally to the right to quickly reflect back a missile.

Now, you have the choice to be flying around in the air whenever you want. The only risk is that it takes about three-quarters of a second to lift your guy / girl off the ground with his little soccer-ball-shaped jetpack / hovering skateboard.

Once you’re in the air, the enemies seldom take the opportunity to encourage you to not be in the air. The level planners got kind of lazy with the flying thing. Most of the levels in the game see you flying from start to finish. “The Aircraft Carrier Level” from the first Sin and Punishment is famous to this day as a pinnacle of shooting-game level design, and that level has you flying through the air, shooting at super-distant enemies, for most of its running time, though the secret is that in The Aircraft Carrier Level, you’re still technically standing on the ground meaning that you still can and have to jump at many key instants. It’s just that the “ground” in The Aircraft Carrier Level happened to be a chunk of pavement which a psychic little girl is hovering via the power of telekinesis.

We’re grateful that the sequel doesn’t explain its flying with as much needless exposition, really (the explanation is: glowing, soccer-ball-shaped flight backpack). Though we were a little shitted off that it made us do it so much. Where’s the finesse in all this flying around? Sure, if you put guns to our heads and told us to choose either the missile reflecting or the jumping from Sin and Punishment, we’d choose missile reflecting in a heartbeat (and maybe ask you to scratch an itchy spot on our scalp with that sexy metal of yours), though that doesn’t mean we don’t miss the jumping.

In the sequel, most of the time, the most graceful you’re going to feel is when you use the dodge button to zip through an enemy projectile on the screen. That doesn’t look as neat, or explainable to a casual observer, as jumping over machine gun spray! Here’s where we pause to reflect upon our emerging impression of the psyche of a Treasure programmer: whether the bullets are roll-dodged or jumped over, the “result” is the same: No Damage Taken.

It’s just weird, though. Rolling is an action that makes you invincible for a moment, at the expense of being able to not shoot while rolling. You might find yourself just rolling all over the place all of the time. Just, rolling like a real nutter. Eventually, the programmers (also the play-testers, it seems) start putting individual bullets in each bullet curtain just shorter apart than your typical rolling distance, meaning that if you roll without thinking sufficiently before hand, you might end up inside a bullet, and screaming with hateful frustration.

So, thanks to all the flying, we’ve got a game where your character can be at any part of the screen at any time. The best parts of the game are arguably when it shifts into side-scrolling mode — which the first Sin and Punishment waited impatiently to the very last stage to do, and the sequel joyfully does right there in stage two — and various obstacles fall from the top of the screen, effectively forcing you to play Space Tetris. Again, as seen in the entire NES era of game design, restrictions breed fun: when the game starts forbidding you access to certain parts of the screen, forcing you to work with what you have, your mind lights up. Then there are the set-pieces where you fight a boss with no life meter — only multiple targets with immediate on-screen consequences. Like, you’re trying to raise a crane and two platforms up to the top of a giant pyramid. You take hits, dwindle to a love-tap away from history, get serious, and realize that maybe you’re following the wrong rules. You’re thinking on your feet — and in the air! Wow! Games-within-games abound in this game. Much of the time, asking yourself what you’re supposed to do is the question that comes second in line after what kind of game it is you’re playing at this very moment. It’s fun — bite-sized, momentary puzzles where the solution usually involves aiming a gun and then firing it at something.

For most of the last half of the game, you’ll be constantly thinking in two planes: the 2D plane, and the 3D plane. Treasure games have flirted with this since Yuyu Hakusho on the Mega Drive — no, maybe since that stage in Gunstar Heroes where you can see the bosses watching you on a TV monitor. Either way, Guardian Heroes gave you a button to press to switch between planes. The new Sin and Punishment is much slicker than that. You’ve got the 2D plane, right there in front of you, usually consisting of bullet-curtain patterns that you must suffer and survive by navigating your character through their momentary labyrinths. Then you’ve got the 3D plane — out there in the horizon, infinitely textured. When you reflect a black-hole missile at a super-distant bullet-curtain-generating robot-thing standing on the deck of a battleship, you might have to suffer five more seconds of dodging before the reflected missile reaches and neutralizes its target. Sometimes, during this five seconds, you have Huge Fun, and sometimes you just kind of forget where you are and let yourself zone into the moment. Either way works. It’s a pretty great game.

It’s just, maybe it’s too much of everything. It’s run-and-gun, it’s jetpacking, it’s a hardcore 2D shooter, it’s a modern-like third-persoon 3D shooter. Only the jetpacking doesn’t work flying-colorfully. It makes the level design a little lazy. The end.

 

Watching a friend play this sequel to Sin and Punishment is enlightening. He might totally miss parts that you totally got, and he might discover things that you didn’t. Like, maybe you fought this one big-armed demon boss, and beat him, without realizing that you could use your sword to deflect his fists back whenever he does his big attack. Deflecting the fists doesn’t do any more than the minimum amount of damage to him, though it elicits an animation you’ve never seen, looks pretty bad-assed, and gives you a whole new idea for tackling the boss on your next time through.

Roger Ebert once wrote an article about how he shows “Citizen Kane” to groups of film students every year, and that he’d thought he’d seen everything in the film until one year, just a couple years ago, when a kid stopped the film (which students can do at any time during these showings, to ask Important Questions or bring up Important Points), to inform Ebert that “the chair moves”. The kid was right — while the camera pans through a wall, an unseen hand pulls a chair away.

Treasure games, in general, though hardly a match for “Citizen Kane”‘s artistic merits, are home to dozens of little things like that. This new Sin and Punishment includes a really neat take on “achievements” that, hopefully, we might see more of in games. Radiant Silvergun gave players bonuses for shooting arbitrary parts of the screen at arbitrary times. Ikaruga heaped on points if players participated in a non-common-sensical chaining system (which needn’t make “sense” from the perspective of the game being, at its core, a shooting game with a puzzle-like feel). Sin and Punishment‘s sequel offers players “Special Bonuses”, represented by bouncing gold medallions, eight times in every level. It doesn’t tell us, at any point, how to get the bonuses. We only know that we need to be daring. In the case of the above-mentioned boss with big hands: maybe you reflect his lightning-fast fists three times, and a gold medal pops out.

This feels very real, and not at all tenuous. The entirety of the game is a desperate struggle of two dumb kids with laser guns against all manner of supernatural freakbeasts or bad-science robots. Why shouldn’t the special scoring system require the players to try every desperate tactic, and to communicate in some outside-the-game community? This is how games live happiest.

Five years from now, game developers the world over will be talking about Treasure games. Treasure is probably the first foundation building block of the Monument of Games to Come. At this moment, in this context, it’s almost a tragedy how many great game ideas Treasure strung together in this sequel to Sin and Punishment, only to (no offense, Nintendo fans) just bang it out on the Wii with sloppy PS2-like graphics that betray the genuineness and delicious idiosyncrasy of the graphic design. If they don’t want to be rich, why does it look like they’re trying so hard? Or, like us, do they merely type really fast? (That’s a metaphor. Explanation: We usually have to warn girls whenever we drunk-email them on dating sites: just because the message is like 2,000 words long doesn’t mean we spent time on it.)

What we have here, at any rate, is the game equivalent of “Django” — a bizarre, virtuosic, misunderstood mishmash collision of great ideas and terrifying filth, to be later lauded as a turning point in the creative development of some great Quentin Tarantino-figure to come.

Have you ever had a male friend who asks, immediately, whenever anyone mentions any girl of any kind, “Does she have a sister?” Creepy, isn’t it? You might be like, “The new girl in the office made cookies for everybody”, and he immediately asks, “Does she have a sister?” He’s highlighting many elements of his own psyche. First, that he would never touch a girl that a buddy is into. Second, that in his world, the only reason a guy would mention a girl is that he is into her. Third, that he believes any and all other guys in the world are just like him. We used to know a guy like that, and we started asking people if the girls they mentioned had sisters, just as something of a piss-take. A friend mentions his sister, for example, and we say “Does she have a sister?” Or, if a guy informed us that a girl did have a sister, we would ask, “Does her sister have a sister?” Sometimes, the guys would say they didn’t know, they’d have to check, and we would lol like a deflating hyena falling down the world’s tallest upward escalator. The first Sin and Punishment was kind of like that joke. People never thought it was funny. At one point, we devised a much more clearly hilarious joke: namely, whenever a man mentions a girl of any kind, even his own sister, we say, “Did you remember to give her my phone number?” This is funnier. The sequel to Sin and Punishment is like the second joke. Back to the “Does she have a sister?” guy: if you ever tell him that you just had a one-night stand, and after he’s asked if the girl has a sister and you’ve said no, or that you don’t know, that you doubt you’ll ever see the girl again, he will almost invariably ask: “Was she hot?” If you say “Yes”, he will invariably ask, “Did you get a picture of her?” Of course you didn’t. Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Sky is a game about the one time you did get a picture of her.

–tim rogers

 

SPECIAL (get) BONUS SECTION


This game was marketed poorly in Japan. There was a TV commercial, though we don’t watch (“hate”) TV in Japan, so we never saw it. We presume it uses the (really nice) theme song from the ending credits of the game. Aside from that commercial, which apparently showed on, like, two channels once every nine hours or so, the game had literally no marketing presence. Why not?

Because we like this game a little bit more lot, and because we want our website to be bigger and more popular than it (already?) is, we are going to offer you, Nintendo of America, full permission to do one or both of these two things:

1. You may, if you like, report “Four (out of four) Stars from Action Button Dot Net” on the back of the game box, even though we are only giving it three and a half.

2. You may use any of the following quotes / word-combinations (some cultivated from the text, some invented exclusively for this section) on the back of the box.

 

“. . . a veritable monster pancake stack of delicious, sticky frictions.”

“. . . the crunchiest, stickiest, most frictive game we’ve played in ages.”

“. . . graphical effects so freaky you’ll forget you aren’t wearing 3D glasses.”

“. . . the most fun we’ve had with our Wii since the News Channel.”

“It took Treasure to make a Treasure game.”

“Nothing short of masterpiecely.”

“. . . the “Sin” is breathing, and the “Punishment” is death by gunshot wound to the head-equivalent.”

“You are a guy with a gun.”

“The shit in this game gets way too real way too quickly. Get over yourself, and use the fucking Wii remote.”

“ABS: Always Be Shooting.”

“Brilliant”.

“. . . pulls no punches . . .”

“. . . the scariest kind of straight-ahead run-and-gun shooter. . .”

“. . . the most teeth-grinding type of perfectionist boss parade. . .”

“big set-pieces . . . hearty, chunky, soup-that-eats-like-a-meal progression.”

“We love this game.”

“Huge Fun.”

“A pretty great game.”

“Very real, and not at all tenuous.”

“A desperate struggle of two dumb kids with laser guns against all manner of supernatural freakbeasts or bad-science robots.”

“Probably the first foundation building block of the Monument of Games to Come.”

“A bizarre, virtuosic, mishmash-collision of great ideas and terrifying filth, to be later lauded as a turning point in the creative development of some great figure to come.”

We used to work in marketing, you know. We used to get paid to pull out quotes, okay? We’re not going to say what company we worked for, because you wouldn’t like us. Just know that, hey,

1. this review is pretty god damn decently written!

2. kotaku.com pays us to write 13,000-word articles once a month about nothing in particular!

3. we paid for this game ourselves!

4. we put our favorite quote at the top! :-3

Anyway, happy marketing to you.

Comments

66 Responses to sin and punishment: successor to the sky

  1. this is in my christmas shopping guide 2009.

    I had to delay the purchase, because I chose (potentially poorly?) to side with Bayonetta on the 29th of October. So far I like Bayonetta, despite it being mostly lol women mirite, because the shooting is decent enough and sometimes you kill a guy and he goes everywhere.

    Played a tiny bit of SnP2, though, in a not-paid-for-with-cash version, and now I want to play even more, so.

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  3. While it may not be enough of a “restriction”, planting your feet on the ground gives you extra points.

    It is affected by the multiplier, though I don’t know what exactly is the base number for it.

  4. skelethulu: my problems with bayonetta are mostly rooted in the dead-vacant level design, the way-too-huge “go find this thing” in “this place” portions, and the terrible story.

    you should play a lot more of snp2! jack was telling me that you guys didn’t even beat the first fuckin’ boss, man. get back in there!

    felix: sadly, most stages of snp2 take place at night, at dusk, at dawn, underwater, inside a volcano, or in outer space. just one stage is set beneath a blue sky, and it is marvelous.

    that said, it really is probably the best rail-shooter, game-design-wise, to ever exist. if they stripped the story down to its core and kept the guy on the ground longer (or maybe (HMMM) made it so the guy only flew if you held the jump button down!), they’d be onto something bigger than panzer dragoon zwei.

  5. Regulus Tera:

    You are indeed right! I knew that and it simply slipped my mind while writing the review.

    However! My point still stands (in my mind, anyway): the game contains maybe too many situations where you can’t stand on the ground, because no ground exists.

    Of course, I always stand on the ground whenever I can.

  6. I think what kept me from falling in love with the original SnP was that…

    1- I was playing on a crappy, choppy emulator with graphical issues. The screen would often go black during boss fights, and the sound would drop out completely when it wasn’t busy skipping constantly.

    2- I was playing with an Xbox 360 controller.

    I still played the game all the way through, though! So I’m probably more in love with it than I think I am.

  7. I think that the trade-off for the sweet platforming sections of the original works because there’s a lot more shit being thrown at you this time around. The last stage in particular reinforces it to me -it just wouldn’t be possible to dodge the Touhou-like bullet hell attacks if you were grounded. It’s almost like the love child of a menage à trois between the first Sin and Punishment, Radiant Silvergun, and Bangai-O.

    Speaking of Bangai-O, the last commander battle of stage 3 brought me some sweet flashbacks of the DS version.

  8. yeahhhhhh, i get what you mean about the tradeoff for the bullet hell stuff.

    the thing is, do we really want bullet hell? the platforming was fun.

    also, remember in The Aircraft Carrier Level, when you’re inside, as . . . what’s her name? achi? and you fight against a couple of stationary turrets that are spitting out bullets?

    i remember the first time i played that; i felt like i had awakened to a whole new type of game, right there. it was classic 2D top-down shooting-game bullet patterns being presented from a really, really unique perspective. it felt really new, and awesome.

    it also probably would have gotten old really fast, if they’d kept it up. it would have started to look hokey.

    for most of its duration, snp2 feels like a light-gun shooter with a movable onscreen avatar and bullet-patterns painted on top for extra challenge.

    i mean, not that there’s anything wrong with that. it’s still a pretty excellent game.

    it really does tie up a lot of treasure-isms really nicely. remember the part where you fight the giant genetic freakmonster alien thing? hmm, maybe that’s vague. when the game goes side-scroller and you’re moving upward as a thing attacks you from the background? that really felt bangai-o-like.

    wait, is that the battle you’re saying reminded you of bangai-o? hah, i think it is. oh, man.

    it also felt pretty greatly radiant-silvergun-like.

    did you know you can sword-deflect the boss’s hand chop attack? the timing is pretty tough.

  9. Is Space Tetris as good as/better than Space Missile Command? It certainly sounds like it!

  10. For some reason, in this particular review the actionbutton «we» voice made me read it in King of All Cosmos’s imaginary voice.

  11. Yeah, the flying thing was the main reservation I had about the game when I saw the trailers. Glad to know it’s still good, though! Day one purchase for sure (when it comes out in America).

  12. “If they don’t want to be rich, why does it look like they’re trying so hard?”

    This is a pretty sad thought.

    Why couldn’t a “Treasure Revolution” have occurred five years ago instead of five years from now? Why aren’t people making Treasure games right now? I feel like I already know the answers and it only serves to make me more frustrated. Everybody should play more Treasure.

  13. “my problems with bayonetta are mostly rooted in the dead-vacant level design, the way-too-huge “go find this thing” in “this place” portions, and the terrible story.”

    so basically they rectified almost nothing about devil may cry’s most glaring failures? the fuck.

    I thought the game used this “verse” format where levels were just structured around Setpiece Instances with mild jogging in between so lock and key wouldn’t even really have to factor in anymore and things would move along at a steady clip? Like, almost Godhand if the worldmap stage selector thing was just in-engine instead.

    about how soon and how often would you say it devolves into this-thing-finding bullshit?

  14. @GilbertSmith: That’s funny. I played Sin & Punishement the exact same way (except with a PS2- like controller), and it never stopped me from falling for it. Though I never had a sound problem. Did you try newer versions of the emulator?

  15. I’m playing on a Mac, so options are kind of slim for emulation. I’m pretty sure I’m using the best one available, and it hasn’t been updated in like six or seven years. I have a PC, but it’s older than dirt. It’s extremely problematic even with SNES emulators.

    But yeah, regardless of problems which render almost every other game on the emulator unplayable, it still managed to carve a small niche in my heart, which will likely expand if I can ever play the game in non-fucked up form.

  16. “We used to work in marketing, you know. We used to get paid to pull out quotes, okay?”

    I have to agree with leoboiko: the action button “we” reminds me of the King of All Cosmos in how it creates this weird disorienting effect on the reader when used in certain contexts. This is a good thing: to be COOL is to learn how to express oneself in ways that are coherently disorienting. And that’s what the “we” does. And it’s Cool.

  17. No more Please Continue?! It only took one evening for that phrase to leave an indelible mark on the minds of all of my friends, and they weren’t even watching me play it. I’d got to the Heat Bomb and the end of the Aircraft Carrier bit, which is also one of my favourite things in any media ever. The stage was great, but the Bomb would then keep me occupied for a good couple of hours. The pattern over this time was very consistent. The level would start and 45 seconds later the bomb would explode. I would then swear loudly, and the game uttered the phrase. After many cycles of this I started hearing shouts of it coming from outside the room.

    Please Continue.

  18. You shouldn’t forget the shutter glasses! The aircraft carrier level in twaked-out 3D running on Project64 is one of my all time top gaming moments =D Game projectiles never looked so solid and so kickarse massive before! I dearly wish the developers could try their game from this viewpoint…

    S&P1 is the best game I have played in stereo 3D and a most dreamlike experience ;)

  19. “i remember the first time i played that; i felt like i had awakened to a whole new type of game, right there. it was classic 2D top-down shooting-game bullet patterns being presented from a really, really unique perspective. it felt really new, and awesome.

    it also probably would have gotten old really fast, if they’d kept it up. it would have started to look hokey.”

    So, P.N.03, then?

  20. i finally beat sin and punishment in october in anticipation, and got this sequel two days after it released. i played with friends for a few levels and had to turn it off. holy shit.

    playing ikaruga now; i feel the need to earn (and savour) s&p 2.

    i think the singular benefit of playing with the wii remote is the ability to move your arms seperately; you can literally fist pump, and keep shooting. i did this several times over the course of those couple levels i played! it is entirely unlikely that there will be another game this great for the console.

    i definitely hear you on the flying count though. being tied to the ground with a reasonably lengthy tether (a floaty double jump) was elegant.

    also, are you admitting to have worked at squeenix tim? =/

  21. Oh Tim, I usually object to your wordiness, but I love you for this. Thank you.

  22. you see, the “wordiness” is only that if you glance casually at it.

    you have learned the lesson, now, which is read, and seeeee.

  23. are you going to review the Bleach DS games? i like having all the combos on the touch screen. its… interesting, at least

  24. Hey Tim, are you planning to bring the forum back? Sorry to post this here, I didn’t want to bug you with an electronic mail.

  25. chekhonte: whoa! you literally commented on this subject around the exact time i was busy cleaning up the forum and thinking about posting the link on the front page again.

    i might not do it, though. i like encouraging people to just talk about whatever in the comments on individual reviews.

    actually, let’s do it this way: the forum still exists. i never deleted it or anything. i just deleted the link button from the front page. some people might still remember the location of the forum. if you’re one of those people, feel free to share the location with friends or whatever, though don’t post links anywhere.

    that way it’ll be fun, like a secret society, or something.

  26. The only problem I have with the comments is that posts on old reviews are generally ignored, meaning that conversations only happen on reviews on the frontpage. Perhaps putting a automatically-generated list of the 10 most recently commented-on reviews on the sidebar would solve this problem.

  27. Thanks Tim, it took a lot of guesses but I finally got it though a google search if anybody else only kind of remembers what it’s called. I kind of like the secret society thing but I hope that there are cooler members than me.

    I’ll be sure not to post the URL anywhere, I assume that the spam problem is what caused to you remove the link and I”m sure that you don’t want to start that all over again.

  28. Shit. I only ever noticed the forum about 2 days before it was closed and I remember nothing about it. Time for some fierce googling.

  29. I don’t think it was a spam problem so much as a lame problem.

  30. Here I was, thinking, why does this clever, clever man don’t do Twitter? Then I realised, a 140 character restriction must be like torture to him.

  31. I have been given solemn assurances that all is well and that the hiatus will end presently.

  32. @Protector one: actually Tim does do Twitter. He uses the 140 characters brilliantly.

  33. there needs to be a review of NSMB Wii (even if its not in a review for that game). also, arkham asylum. Idk who to trust on that one.

    Relevant bit: I recently passed gettin Sin & Punishment on the virtual console to get Majora’s mask (never played either); good or bad choice?

  34. I don’t – I haven’t gotten it yet. Might get around to it after Majora and Super Metroid, and Sin & Punishment and…

  35. Strange, that’s my exact list of upcoming games as well. I think I like Majora’s Mask a whole lot so far. It’s like Ocarina, but without the big gaping void where a “world” is supposed to go. It’s telling that the center of the game’s world is not a big, depressing field but rather a big town full of citizens and stories. And really, most of the sidequests aren’t even of the “doing shit for idiots” variety either, as described in this site’s Twilight Princess review.

  36. “Games-within-games abound in this game.”

    That could go on the box, too! And yes: this is precisely how ‘mini-games’ can work well. It’s like the approach is inverted: rather than having to stop and signal and explain a mini-game that changes the mechanics, you just keep playing and realize you are whacking moles, or launching buffalo, or whatever, developing what the game is about rather temporarily diverting your attention from it. This is nothing new to Treasure or really most great action games, of course, but with S&P2 bouncing your attention between 2D and 3D fields simultaneously, it is especially suited to flexing its way into different perspectives and genres.

    Temporarily restricting or twisting the known mechanics can be effective, though, and I didn’t like how stage 4 ditched the flashlight partway through. They could have really gone somewhere with that. Maybe a monster eats your jetpack and you go into a cave to find it, using the flashlight to track the location of a boss in the dark, holding the light steady to blind its eye while your character accesses a weakpoint elsewhere on screen. Or a climax where you regain your jetpack in real-time that liberates you to fly above the boss, and eventually out of the cave. What if every stage had an ‘arc’ like that, connecting the scenarios further with gameplay development?

    And really, aside the obligatory tweaks (like a final boss that wasn’t a complete brick wall for the first dozen tries), that’s about all they could do to make this better. It’s already pretty close and touches on that sort of scenario-flow, here and there.

  37. “Reading this review felt like playing the game.”

    You know what?

    I think that’s one of the most important things people like about ABDN. People come here to post and read because every review is a unique, personal experience with the game. I think this does far more, when written effectively and by intelligent individuals of course, than an all-impartial mindset to explore the game on its merits and truly critique it rather than posting the IGN-esque sum-of-their-parts checklist. (This may actually be wrong, as I stopped reading IGN years ago and maybe they’ve changed. Certainly they’re not the only ones doing this but they are the poster-child for it)

    And by god I’m fucking buying Sin and Punishment 2 NEW. (though, due to my still being a cheap-ass, probably not DAY 1 NEW)

  38. “People come here to post and read because every review is a unique, personal experience with the game. I think this does far more, when written effectively and by intelligent individuals of course, than an all-impartial mindset to explore the game on its merits and truly critique it [...]”

    Yeah.

    Bye, ABDN. It was good times.

  39. Long-time reader (if five months is a relatively long time), first-time poster (not really but only registered just yesterday).

    I feel I’ve made some kind of faux-pas, but that’s generally how I feel. Though when I say ‘critique’ it’s not to imply any over-seriousness or negative self-importance. I actually promised myself I wouldn’t make a “Hey, I like this site its pretty cool, I like how…[etc]” post but I ended up doing one anyway.

    Perhaps I’m just digging myself into a hole, but I’m digging the discussions regardless.

  40. “…but that’s generally how I feel.”

    By “that” I mean my former post, not the latter.

  41. eatgaboon: naw dude your comment is straight cool; stick around, keep commenting, and be awesome

    also be ready for our FINAL FANTASY XIII review (soon!)

  42. If its anything like your Youtube playthrough of it then I don’t think I can wait till Christmas.

  43. Eatgaboon, you didn’t commit no faux pas, you just had the bad luck to have Mathis here reply to you…

  44. Pingback: Twitter Trackbacks for Action Button Dot Net [actionbutton.net] on Topsy.com

  45. i registered to say this shit; it feels a little cheesy, but i think it’s good to put stuff like this down, because private thoughts are not communicated through the ether: ABDN has single-handedly altered the way i view games and revitalized my interest in them. i used to be pretty actively into them (even writing some terrible consumer reports/IGN style nonsense for gamespy when i was 15 and didn’t know better) but after a while i just stopped caring. this site has helped me to identify why i stopped caring, but it also helped me to identify why it’s worth caring and the resulting excitement has led me to start again even though everything’s mostly the same, if not kinda worse. now fewer things satisfy me, but i am much happier. i don’t know if you “need” the encouragement or not, but there it is. rock on, rabbit fighter.

  46. I have signed in, now two months with this game, and I have to say: fuck yeah this game is pretty rad.

    I mean, it’s probably not the best game I can think of, but it’s certainly a game that I will think of, when I want to shoot. In the last decade, there are only a few rail shooters that I regard more highly (Planet Harriers (because of its Holy Graal status), Killer 7 (because of its divisiveness), and Rez (because Rez)). This IS, however, the only one that can be bro-oped (until Planet Harriers gets onto my goddamn MAME machine).

    Two player is still a little less compelling than I would prefer (would be great if player 2 had an actual body! and a sword! and a charge attack!).

    BTW got a REAL copy for Christmas. This is one of the few games worth owning for the Fucking Wii Budget Fun Device.

  47. Did anyone ever play the arcade GI Joe?

    Does the arcade GI Joe compare favorably to Sin & Punishment?

    I loved the arcade GI Joe.

  48. Man, arcade GI Joe was the shit. But I’d imagine it’d feel pretty dated now. I don’t think you could really compare the two games. It’s like asking how Tomb Raider compares to Spelunker.

  49. I too am a long time reader but a first-time poster.

    I’m stuck in deepest, darkest Africa right now but I try to make as much ABDN time as i can.
    I have nothing to add to this discussion except that I enjoyed the hell out of Sin and Punishment on the N64, and that I wish I could play this newest installment. I hope that doesn’t bother anyone.

    This post is simply a shameless and awkward ‘Thank You’ to everyone at ABDN.

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