Sin & Punishment: Star Successor Review

Introduction

I can’t believe I have to go back to this shitty game again. Goddamn it!  I hate this game so much for the brutal bosses, low and never increasing health, and story progression. It’s so fucking hard with its unforgiving level design and mechanics. Sin and punishment is right –  I feel like I’m being punished with its intense difficulty, and the game’s very existence is a sin on its own (pun intended but not in a funny way). Like, what the hell is this, why did I ever go back to this abomination in the first place? Oh yeah, that’s right: it’s to review this game for my gaming blog. I bought this game with Mario Kart Wii, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Excite Truck, and Sonic Colors at A & C Games back in March 2014.

I heard about this, not through TV commercials, online advertisements, or even through news, but rather through those recommendation pamphlets included in every first and second party Wii game (you guys know exactly what I’m referring to). Even after reading reviews, I still wasn’t sure if I should’ve purchased and played the game. Until I stumbled upon and was convinced by gaming networks – okay, it was only IGN and GameSpot but still – that composed lists of top Wii games to own – actually, top best 50 Wii games to own of all time – , I never actually considered getting it since I was turned off by the short length and hard difficulty (well, which I later did).

As it only six hours to beat, I’ll spoil all the juicy details later. Before I continue on, let me discuss the history of this IP. The original Sin & Punishment was an on-rails shooter with science-fiction and RPG themes, which was a Japan-exclusive for the Nintendo 64. I don’t know much about what caused its creation; what I do know though is that it was developed by a second-party company (or was it third-party?) known as Treasure, and they were supposedly working on a new IP for Nintendo at the time.

It never saw the light of day until its international release on Virtual Console, and the Japanese re-release, via the Wii Shop Channel. The Nintendo Wii U recently allowed N64 games to be downloaded through the eShop, though it’ll probably take at least a year before it even gets officially announced. As for this title Star Successor, or Successor Of The Skies elsewhere, I don’t know its conception either, though I assume the re-release of the prequel had some influence on it.

Plot

The back story isn’t going to be explained here because it’s already done so in the instruction manual, which can be viewed online officially through Nintendo or through piracy sites. It starts off with Isa and Kachi in a spaceship trying to run away from the creators, when suddenly they get hit by a laser beam from an enemy ship. Soldiers start invading it, prompting the couple to escape, defeating them in the process. Right before the ship crash lands into Earth-4, they escape and find themselves in an apocalyptic metropolitan city. Kachi explores the city and becomes lost, forcing Isa to to find her. He eventually does find Kachi wandering around with awe and curiosity, but not before fighting Orion Tsang, whom is associated with the Nebulox and demands the capture of Kachi in order for his life to be spared.

Isa destroys Orion Tsang, who is later revealed to be just a robot; no, cyborg…no, android…no, well, umm…I honestly don’t know. They then retreat inside a building, assuming to be safe, when a monster (later followed by an army of soldiers, beasts, and robots) give chase. After playing cat and mouse with them, Isa decides to enter a cave leading to a hydro tunnel system. He tells Kachi that it leads to the ocean, where this underwater labyrinth should be safe and free from any threat. Turns out Isa was wrong, because even more soldiers, as well as wild sea-creatures and hyper-advanced submarines, assault the traitors during their little detour. Ascending into the river surface forces them to fight the Nebulox again (um…spoiler alert).

Armon Ritter is the next challenger, who strangely resembles Adolf Hitler to me. Yeah, I’m not joking and I’m not being racist to the Jews either. The names both sort of rhyme: Armon, Adolf…Ritter, Hitler. They both dress in formal military-esque uniform/attire and have menacing faces that look serious yet mature. They even act like manipulative sociopaths too. Getting back to the game’s plot, he reveals to be a shapeshifter, transforming into killer dolphins and sentient rocks; unfortunately, he still gets defeated despite his OP techniques. He leaves them and says that the creators are always watching them no matter where they go.

While Isa travels along the water reflecting on the dictator’s advice, Kachi somehow activates a portal that teleports Isa to a dense forest. Kachi becomes trapped within the wormhole and tries to control her powers during her imprisonment. At first, Isa thinks he’s in a dream. Then after travelling and fighting for awhile, the forest brightens as a full moon shines from the dark sky and Isa immediately knows otherwise. He confronts an indigenous woman by the name of Ariana Grande…no, Ariana Shami! She says some metaphors about dreams and is later discovered as the third member of the Nebulox when she fights Isa (you only know about her identity and status in the manual, though her association with the Nebulox is kind of obvious at this point).

Her spiritual powers pose a tough challenge and her transformation into a bird-like monster make things even tougher. But Isa perseveres and defeats her in battle too. Kachi drops by at the right time since she now regained full control of her strange powers, warping both herself and Isa to a desert leading to Mt. Fuji (gee, I wonder where this game takes place in) the next morning. Isa discusses with Kachi about the philosophy of humanity (or was it before they teleported…sorry, it was only six hours and over a year, so my memory fails me) and even has a flashback about his monster father and human mother. Once Isa awakens, Kachi tells him of a strategic plan to evade the nearby guards.

Isa appears right when the soldiers are complaining about unable to find the two traitors and begin to pursue him. That’s when Kachi rides a dinosaur which distracts them, giving Kachi some time to ride atop a hovercraft, and the dinosaur frightens them to run away and set off an alarm to send in reinforcements. With a means of transportation, the couple travels through the desert, shooting down more mooks, monsters, and missiles. An animal hybrid that seems to be a chimera chases Isa before engaging in battle, later strangely allying him upon defeat.

The monster somehow communicates with Kachi, translating that their battle was a fun and decent challenge and is offering to repay them (I guess for defeating the soldiers). It flies and Isa and Kachi to the heart of Mt. Fuji…right where all of the hot, boiling lava is! They fly across the ocean of lava soon after the chimera beast leaves them, fending off navy ships in order to enter the nearby base. Another monster gives chase while Isa is on a cargo train leading into the fortress’ interior (leading to the exterior of another fortress, finally leading to the true interior).

It eventually dies after a battle inspired from Temple Run and Sonic Unleashed, but in a style similar to King Piccolo near the end of Dragon Ball, releases an egg far away in which an offspring hatches out from and kidnaps Kachi. She becomes the hostage and is tied to a weak rope attached to an unstable cargo mechanism over a pool of lava. After a game of teeter-totter, the offspring gives up and frees Kachi, falling into the lava itself and meeting its death (supposedly presented as a suicide for I guess failing at his life purpose or dishonoring his…parent).

They then fight the offspring’s sibling upon releasing Kachi from the rope who instantly appears from nowhere and vows to avenge its family but dies too after (thankfully) an easy battle. The couple infiltrate a highly advanced technological base, where robots, turrets, industrial blades, soldiers, and lasers greet him (to his death LOL). Halfway through, they encounter an Asian ninja girl who wants to fight but retreats as she warns that a giant monster is coming after sensing the presence of multiple intruders. Though the monster dies, its death starts a chain reaction that destroys the generator that destroys the room itself similar to before.

Isa and Kachi barely escape and continue to explore the base. Isa finally meets with the girl again, who is the fourth Nebulox member, challenging him to fight and even flirting with Isa to make Kachi jealous…which fails since Kachi is ignorant of love and romance. Fighting in what appears to be in an elevator shaft, Isa duels in a long battle with Hibaru Yaju, whom uses her katana blade and ki (DBZ pun intended) to counter Isa’s laser blaster and light sabers. Isa, of course, becomes victorious and leaves the base with Kachi, only to realize that there is another base hidden inside the previous one. Finally making it to the peak of the volcano after another onslaught of mooks, there awaits the leader of the Nebulox and former military commander – Commander Deko.

He remarks how things have changed since the last time they met as Isa is actually a former student of Deko’s who was the one who taught Isa the techniques he knows and uses currently. Deko infuses a bomb to set off to destroy the volcano within several minutes, to which Isa rebels. Deko proceeds to command his strongest underlings to eliminate both Isa and Kachi, in which they are successful after a long struggle. Commander Deko enters the fray and battles Isa himself once the soldiers all die and fail. They fight a long and hard battle where both combatants are barely alive; seeing that the bomb still has time to spare, Deko binds Isa together with chains and whips away Isa’s gun.

Isa is forced to fight in a hand-to-hand brawl with Deko, ending quickly (at least for me) with Deko being the loser. Humiliated at his loss, Deko retreats when the bomb finally explodes, ctaching Isa and Kachi off-guard. They both fall into the lava seemingly to their deaths; however, Isa protects Kachi and transforms into a typical RPG monster and heads for outer space to rebel against the creators. While in outer space (it’s actually inner space, but for convenience, let’s call it outer space), a gargantuan fleet of spaceships, laser cannons, and a giant satellite approaches Earth-4.

To the Nebulox’s surprise, the monsters and creatures that attacked Isa and Kachi earlier now ally with them to defeat the Nebulox and prevent them from destroying their world. With the new monster transformation, Isa is stronger than ever and faces the army of ships alone (with Kachi being inside his body). Finally confronting the Nebulox again, each member faces Isa in a one-on-one duel where they all transform into monsters equipped with giant weapons. Deko is the last to remain, and in a last-ditch effort to defeat Isa, uses his powers to steal and weaken Kachi’s soul upon his own defeat. Isa gets made, and not only saves Kachi, but also kills off Deko and talks back to the creators as a means to mock their very existence (sort of like what we atheists do to religious people).

If you haven’t noticed by now, Star Successor takes place in a futuristic post-apocalyptic sci-fi variation of Earth. Specifically, it takes place in the country of Japan…if the Mt. Fuji reference never rung any bells. You definitely won’t be able to know that at first (well, at least before that reference occurs). The plot gives off a dark and mature atmosphere while still maintaining a childish mood. The story itself is honestly good, well-written, and presented in a short and effective manner. What sucks though, is that this is probably the only good thing about this title since everything else from the gameplay to the graphics ranges from decent to mediocre quality.

Cut-scenes are decent and bad at the same time. What do I mean by such a contradictory statement? They do its job correctly – wait, did I already say this in a past review…oh, I already did, never mind (or did I not?) These cinematics also enhance the plot’s presentation and transition too; however, nothing else besides that is good. Camera always zooms in way too much and moves slowly, revealing the game’s horrible graphics with the low-rez textures, inaccurate models, and jaggies. Voice acting is sub-par as the voice actors sound very high-pitched and immature, as if they’re trying too hard to be hired as anime voice actors. Animation is decent but its speed is not “synchronized” correctly if you know what I mean…no, you don’t actually know what I mean.

Graphics

Aesthetics are also something I find to be underwhelming. As I said before, the models and textures are crap. Everything else on the other hand is – okay at most. For once, the polygon count is honestly really high, sort of upscaling the quality from bad to average. Larger models and character models (main, not the mooks or enemies) are better than the enemy and smaller models. Just like the latter though, they still suffer from rough textures, jaggie edges, and geometric flaws and inaccuracies.

Resolution is obviously rendered at 480p standard definition in 16:9 widescreen (weird for me to say that, but there are some games on the Wii that are actually still 4:3 LOL), but the anti-aliasing somehow gives the illusion of it rendering at 720i or even 720p HD. I only played this for 6 hours a year ago, so I’m not sure of the exact frame rate. I think it’s safe to assume that it’s at 30 FPS and not at 60 FPS. For the most part, Star Successor looks like a cross between a late Nintendo Game-Cube game and early Wii title.

No offense to the Nintendrones out there (told you I wasn’t a fanboy anymore), I’m being very honest here and I want to claim that this looks way better than The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. Maybe because the latter was optimized for the Game-Cube and later ported to the Wii and Sin & Punishment: Star Successor being a Wii-exclusive title instead. Lighting effects are a really minor “feature” as it’s normal and nothing is good or bad about it. For some odd reason, the brightness, saturation, and hue barely change when the weather, location, or sky changes. Bloom effects are present; they’re extremely minor and not that obvious.

Controls

Controls are very basic and self-explanatory, especially if you’ve played shooters before on the Wii or even PC (with keyboard and mouse, no doubt). Point the Wii Remote to show and aim the reticle; press the A button to lock-on target and/or prepare a charge shot; the B trigger is to shoot with the gun or attack with the sword. The +, -, and Home buttons, and also the d-pad are obvious of what they do. With the Nunchuk, moving the control stick allows movement – since this is an on-rails shooter, you can only move within a set amount of space on the screen in a 2.5 D environment. Most of the time you’re in the air, so you control the jet-pack, but on the ground tilting up is to hover and the other directions are to walk.

To be quite honest, the controls make it feel like I’m playing a Metroid game. Many of the commands, such as charge shot, targetting, and evading can be done in the Prime trilogy or Other M. Basic mechanics like shooting and aiming is what makes this game familiar to gamers, making it easy to pick up and play…at least with the controls and not the actual levels. Besides aiming with the Wii Remote, there are no controller gimmicks. If it doesn’t suit you fancy, then alternative controller options and custom controller configurations are available. In my opinion though, it’s recommended to use the Wiimote + Nunchuk combo and nothing else.

Gameplay

Those familiar with shooters, be it first-person, third-person, on-rails, or even multiple perspectives and sub-genres (just like Other M), should feel right at home. I’m saying this not because I’m too lazy to review the in-game mechanics (though they are obvious and do get tedious to talk about after awhile). I’m saying it because I really feel like Star Successor is simply a generic shooting game with JRPG and sci-fi themes and elements included. Seriously, there’s nothing in this game that sets it apart from others, gameplay wise.

Only the plot and hard-ass difficulty (excuse the language) makes it remembered, not memorable for the good stuff like graphics and gameplay. Everything about the gameplay is terrible. Only four game modes exist to be experienced by players, which are single player, co-op, online, and time-trial. You can play as Isa or Kachi from the start in campaign, and fulfilling certain conditions allows you to alternate between either/or during the climax (get your mind out of the gutter if you assume I just made a sex joke).

Sadly in co-op, only the first character is on-screen, whereas the second player only controls a reticle and not Kachi herself (just like in Super Mario Galaxy). Online is limited to leader-boards, which can be hacked to get an impossibly high score and time record, and is therefore inaccurate. Besides, the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection Service was discontinued like a year ago so why bother going there? Time trial, or whatever the hell it’s called, lets you play just one level with no continues; as pathetic as it is, the quality and quantity of the gameplay appears to be very low.

Hubworld – wait, there is no “world” in Sin & Punishment: Star Successor, calling the different acts as “levels” would also be an offence (pun jokes placed but not intended to be funny in a good way but rather in a negative way). Sure, there are stages that transition smoothly as you progress, but they’re not really something you would consider to be levels. Level design is bare-bones all the way, and I’m not exaggerating when I say that. Since this is on-rails, you can’t move freely and explore the level. It simply scrolls automatically in a straightforward and linear path, like an interactive movie or something.

Except, unlike those story-driven games, there are no quick-time events (only in one level but it’s just a boss fight), on-screen button command prompts, or natural transition from gameplay to cutscene. Oh, and before I forget this, you also never stop in those levels, at all. The only time you stop is pausing or leaving the game entirely. When you reach a checkpoint or a new level, you’ll just keep going and never rest or you will die from the next set of enemies or bosses to come that fight you. Unlike the arbitrary NES games, there are segments in many levels that are free from danger allowing you to rest or explore without risk of losing health or dying. Star Successor would be a mindless shoot ’em up if it weren’t for the checkpoints and bosses.

Content, ranging from items to bosses, are a complete total ass. Barely any pick-up and recovery items even exist, and they’re extremely rare and hard to find and earn outside of mini-bosses and bosses which don’t matter as much (excluding the Nebulox). No weapon upgrades exist either; in fact, the only weapons are the gun and sword you start off with. Wow, just wow, this downgrades it to being almost as bare-bones as an Atari game. Enemies are way too easy and way too much, while the bosses are extremely fucking difficult.

God fucking damn! They have so much health, multiple attack “phases”, summon dozens of mooks to aid them, and attacks that can easily deplete your health to stun and kill you frequently. What the fuck is this shit? On top of all that, their AI trolls me constantly by always using the attacks I hate and suck at dodging/countering. Now for the worst out of them all: difficulty. This crappy game is so goddamn motherfucking hard! Why is it this fucking brutal and unforgiving with the difficulty?Limited health that is easily depleted and never gets upgraded; bosses durable as cock-roaches; delayed and slow response of movement, recharging, and combos; unfair placement of hazards, mini-bosses, and checkpoints; the list goes on forever!

Fuck, I freaking hate this game to the core. Star Successor is disgustingly not remorseful with its hardcore, intense challenge. Even on the easiest difficulty, I got several deaths and game-over screens, and expect that to happen all the time. Some may argue that it only makes things more fun, and that’s where they are fucking wrong! You will easily die all the time, by things I just mentioned, or even by random glitches, such as bad collision detection or delayed control responses. Oh yeah, this can be considered to the evil known as Dark Souls (or Demon Souls and Bloodborne) of Nintendo’s IPs.

If it’s this hard on easy, then I can’t even begin to imagine the monstrosities of medium and hard difficulties – no, I can’t and won’t even think about it. At least with other franchises like Donkey Kong Country, it has good graphics, music, controls, and gameplay, as well as being forgiving in certain aspects to make the experience less painful. Oh, did I mention that there;s cheap death moments in Star Successor and the fact that Donkey Kong Country Returns, another game I loath for the difficulty, is better in every way too? Thought so.

Music

Least and last thing to review is the music, which also sucks ass. Everything composed is either rock ‘n roll, sci-fi, techno, or a mix of the above. There is some genre diversity but they always seem to blend in with one another. All the tunes are generic and forgettable, coming off as annoying – probably even more annoying than the early 3D Sonic games; oh yeah, I just said that aloud, so what? At least the sound quality is good – nope, just kidding, it’s pretty shit too. This review of Sin & Punishment: Star Successor was very negative; didn’t I predict that only the plot and controls were good, while everything else from graphics and gameplay be terrible? Yeah, I thought so too.

Verdict

Not much left to say, yet I’ll say it anyways. While there is replay value, it’s very lacking and independent of the game’s length. Even with that, you wouldn’t be really motivated to go back and play this (I know I never did). Therefore, I’m not going to discuss the game’s replay value suckas! There are pros and cons; however, since the cons clearly outweigh the pros, and seeing that the only the plot and controls are good, I’ll leave out my opinions for this one small exception – also because I’m lazy reviewing this inferior game at this point. Despite what I said, many will recommend this as a must-have for the Nintendo Wii being one of the few “hardcore” titles for the library. But this is my review, which I say otherwise and give it a 6 out of 10.

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