This week's edition of Critical Reception examines online reaction to Treasure's Sin & Punishment
sequel Star Successor
, which reviews describe as "one of the best Wii games of the year." Star Successor
currently earns a score of 87 out of 100
Ray Barnholt at 1UP.com gives Star Successor an A grade
. "Yes, Treasure is known for punishingly difficult shoot-em-ups, all of which are darlings among the hardcore," he begins. "And yes, Star Successor
certainly looks like it should be hard, with a dystopian setting and bleak art style that's less colorful than even its predecessor on Nintendo 64."
"But it's fun," Barnholt continues, "and that's not just because Treasure has made another challenging, robust shooter that makes grown men weep -- at times it's certainly able -- but because they've turned Sin & Punishment
into a supremely natural Wii action game."
Barnholt finds that the Wii Remote perfectly suits Sin & Punishment
's gameplay. "The remote's cursor fundamentally solves the problem of the original Sin & Punishment
, which could only depend on buttons and control sticks to move the reticule and keep the hero moving," he says. "Now you can shoot anywhere you want within fractions of a second, and the Nunchuk's Z button enables a dash move that lets you zip out of the way of danger just as fast."
The result is a fluid experience that stands out in its genre. "Many people may take one look at Star Successor
and peg it as just another Wii on-rails shooter, which really isn't doing it justice," Barnholt explains. "This is a game that clearly takes after traditional vertical or side-scrolling shooters: You have your playable character, able to move freely, dodging seemingly insurmountable enemies and floods of bullets, while the detailed world around them zooms by.
"It's a bit like that other Treasure game, Ikaruga
; you know, the one that some shooter fans loved more than their parents? In other words, Star Successor
is worth picking up."
IGN's Daemon Hatfield scores Star Successor
at 9 out of 10
. "A sequel to a cult Nintendo 64 game that was only released in Japan (although it is now available on the Virtual Console in the United States), this is a strange choice for Nintendo to publish stateside," he notes. "Shooter fans will be glad the company did, though, because this is one of the best Wii games of the year."
"There is something new to see around every corner in Star Successor
," Hatfield praises. "From start to finish, this is a wild ride that never gives you a moment to catch your breath. The boss fights remind me of Japanese monster movies and are some of the most impressive battles in recent memory."
Hatfield also finds the simple gameplay refreshing. "Star Successor
is a pretty straightforward affair," he notes. "There are no RPG elements, you don't level up, and there aren't 50 weapons to cycle through. This is a shooter in the purest sense, and it is glorious."
Hatfield warns that Star Successor
can be difficult at times, but manages to sidestep potential frustration with its checkpoint system. "Yes, this is a hardcore game for brave souls looking for a challenge," he writes. "The game avoids being too frustrating, though, with plenty of generous checkpoints. Spend some time with the game, memorize its patterns, figure out each of the bosses' weaknesses, and you will get better."
"And getting better in this game is very satisfying. That definitely offsets the short length of the game. The ride only lasts four to five hours, but the experience is so exciting and so rewarding you'll want to play it over and over again."
Jane Douglas at GameSpot UK rates Star Successor
at 8.5 out of 10
. "For those who enjoyed the N64's Sin and Punishment
," she begins, "this glorious Wii follow-up, also an on-rails shooter, is a no-brainer."
Douglas points out that Star Successor
's poor narrative does little to detract from its gameplay. "[Star Successor
] is set years after the first game and follows two kids called Isa and Kachi as they do battle with military types, mechs, and outlandish animals," she explains. "It all takes place in, around, and far above a future Japan. Isa is the son of the original game's main characters. Kachi appears to be, but isn't, a young girl.
"The plot, such as it is, may seem like nonsense, and there's not much more to it than laid out here. But that's no complaint. This is a game about spectacle and action, not story, and it manages both very well."
Douglas praises the depth and variety of Star Successor
's gameplay. "The game's abundance of ideas and variety of action is admirable," she says. "Sometimes the camera will swing to one side, turning it into a side-scrolling or vertically scrolling shooter. At another point, the game briefly becomes a side-on brawler, giving a twist to the finale of one boss fight. The quality and variety of visual design is likewise dazzling, to the point where the sometimes less-than-pretty textures are eclipsed."
However: "The two-player mode is a letdown. Rather than putting a second character on the (admittedly crowded) screen, the mode adds a second targeting reticle. The second player becomes not much more than an assistant; he or she may be good for a little extra damage, picking up some extra points, and clearing the screen of hazards but has no special attacks. With nothing to do but paint targets with the Wii Remote, the second player's experience is diluted beyond recognition."
Overall, though, Douglas issues a strong recommendation. "The weak co-op offering aside, Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies
[European title] impresses with its gratifying action and wealth of ideas," she concludes. "Wii owners owe it to themselves to experience a high-energy on-rails shooter with this diverse and fresh-feeling game."