For some, Sin & Punishment 2 is of known quality. Released last year in Japan for the Wii, hardcore gamers have already experienced Treasure's latest. Thankfully, for the rest of us, we don't have to rely on imports -- Nintendo of America is finally (and slowly) bringing the franchise Stateside.
Although its N64 predecessor found release on the Virtual Console, it's likely that the Wii audience is completely unfamiliar to the franchise. Certainly, the Wii doesn't feel like it should be home to such a niche game from a "hardcore" developer like Treasure. Featuring an onslaught of endless enemies, and a relentless torrent of bullets filling the screen, Star Successor doesn't even attempt to console casual gamers. In fact, moving to the Wii has allowed Treasure to expand the gameplay to the point where Star Successor feels like the game Sin & Punishment was always meant to be.
From a design perspective, Sin & Punishment seems ideally suited for the Wii Remote & Nunchuck. Unlike Wii FPS games, for example, Sin & Punishment doesn't have to worry about customizable view boxes, or camera sensitivity. It has the immediate accessibility of a rail shooter. However, being able to control an on-screen avatar adds a level of depth missing from games like Dead Space Extraction and Resident Evil: Darkside Chronicles. Like Treasure's greatest games, the gameplay isn't simply fixated on shooting; dodging and manipulating the environment is a vital component of success.
Movement via the Nunchuck feels great, and it only took me a few moments to get accustomed to controlling Isa. I found it far easier to dodge and melee in this Wii sequel than in the original N64 game and I began feeling a rhythm: shooting at faraway enemies, while dodging towards other enemies for a quick melee kill. I was pretty happy to see my score multiplier reach 12x (your multiplier grows, so long as you avoid taking damage).
There's a lot of visual information to take in at once, as the sheer number of enemies and bullets on screen is almost suffocating. Undoubtedly, experts will be able to unravel the subtle complexities of the game: for example, which enemies are more vulnerable to melee, and what projectiles can (and should) be deflected back at enemies. Thankfully, being able to have a second player join you should help alleviate the daunting challenge of surviving Star Successor. With a second Remote, a co-op buddy can take aim at the screen and fire away at enemies. It's certainly an improvement over the N64's laughable co-op mode (which had one player controlling movement, and another player shooting). However, it's still not a full-featured co-op mode -- the second player doesn't control a character ... odd, considering there are two playable characters in the story.
Like many of my Joystiq colleagues, Sin and Punishment: Star Successor is a must-buy simply because of our admitted appreciation of the developer's pedigree. Thankfully, Star Successor doesn't simply rest on its laurels. This is a terrific shooter that was clearly designed with the Wii in mind. We can't think of a better gift from Nintendo to the Wii hardcore.