Review: The N64's last great hurrah finally comes to America. Hooray!
Sin & Punishment is only seven years old, but it already has a long and sorted history. Originally released only in Japan on the Nintendo 64 during that system's final days in 2000, Sin & Punishment quickly gained a reputation as one of gaming's underappreciated gems. The game was an on-rails shooter developed by the geniuses at Treasure (the company would later go on to create the seminal shooters Ikaruga and Gradius V) that could best be described as Star Fox 64 on the ground.
The game's story wears its anime inspirations on its sleeve. In the "near future" of 2007 a mutated race known as the Ruffians has taken over Japan. An American military squad moves in to try to retake the country, but they are quickly corrupted by the Ruffians. Naturally, a group of teenage rebels (one of whom is an alien) becomes Japan's only hope. Expect to take on the mechs, monsters and floating apparitions common to the anime-inspired action genre and prepare to be completely confused by the story.
While the story is standard anime fluff, the action is anything but standard. As I said before, Sin & Punishment is an on-rails shooter that places the camera behind the teenage soldiers as they constantly push forward. Players will need to use the left and right arrows on the Control Pad to help your character dodge the enemy fire. The right analog stick is then used to move an aiming reticule and the shoulder buttons control the shooting and the jumping. It takes a few minutes to get the hang of the controls, but they become second nature after that.
Players will need to master these controls as the game throws a constant stream of Ruffians and gunfire at the two teenaged heroes. Moving and dodging while returning fire feels perfect in that patented Treasure way. And if the Ruffians get too close, the player can pull out a sword for a little slice and dice action. All of these moves will be needed to handle Sin & Punishment's decent challenge. The "Easy" setting actually is pretty easy, but the "Normal" setting will require a more practiced trigger finger.
The graphics feature the traditional N64-styled polygonal look. While it looks a little dated in this day and age (we do live in the "near future" after all), it gets the job done. The English voice acting (which was in the original Japanese release) is good, but again, the story is practically incomprehensible.
Sin & Punishment's import status has pushed its price on the Virtual Console up to 1200 Wii Points (200 Points more than a regular N64 game). This price hike is strange as the game didn't require much localization work at all. With the voiceovers already in English, all Nintendo had to do was update the menus to English. Is that worth two dollars? Maybe, maybe not. But there's no denying that getting the chance to play a game of Sin & Punishment's caliber is worth every penny.