developed by Treasure/Published by Nintendo/2000.11.21
1 player/cartridge/Nintendo 64, Nintendo Wii (Virtual Console)
Treasure’s spectacular Sin & Punishment was robbed of its worldwide release back on the Nintendo 64. Whether it was deemed unfit for release due to its mature content or overlooked entirely makes no difference – the game features full English voice acting and minimal menus, making it a no-brainer to release it stateside. To make matters worse, it is exactly the sort of thing hardcore gamers were clamoring for at the time. Fortunately for us, it finally gets its due via the Wii’s Virtual Console download service.
The storyline and general atmosphere of the game seems inspired by the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion. Hordes of biological terrors called Ruffians are invading Japan and it’s up to Saki and the Savior Group to stop them. Saki is helped along the way by a couple of teenage friends and they’ll confront paranormal Americans who’ve come to control the situation. There’s a great deal of cinema sequences (book-ending each stage), all of which feature the above mentioned voice acting and play out ala Metal Gear with in-game models which are a bit chunky but represent Yasushi Suzuki’s style well.
At its heart Sin & Punishment is a railshooter – you aim the cross hairs at a target and shoot it down – but it would be unlike Treasure not to take things a step further. Most of the game takes place on foot, meaning you can run left and right (performing an evasive tumble in either direction with a well-timed double tap), jump, double jump, and if an enemy or missile strays near, you can swat it back with a quick tap of your attack button. Thankfully there is a training mode to play with until you become accustomed to aiming, moving, and jumping in opposite directions simultaneously.
Length & Challenge
The game features 9 stages spread across 3 levels. That may not sound like much, but it has been designed for multiple play throughs and high scores. The settings are as diverse as the enemies you will encounter. Most stages contain a mini boss as well as an end-stage boss, and are filled with obstacles and swarms of minor enemies. If there’s one thing Treasure knows, it’s boss design requiring strategy and quick reflexes. Some of them will even evolve or change their tactics and (gulp) get an entirely refilled life bar. Thankfully there are health bonuses and the game doesn’t skimp on the credits.
Sin & Punishment lays bare 99% of the N64 library as graphically inferior. While the characters are somewhat jagged, the game exudes style and contains the finest pyrotechnics ever to grace the N64. The textures range in quality but overall feel bright and colorful. Often the screen is filled with enemies, most of whom are stage specific. Levels are in doors, out doors, and flying all over the place, taking on different camera angles to mix things up. On the other hand, the music has an early ’90s arcade vibe. Some stages sound better than others, but the overall style is synth rock (if only the N64 could do redbook audio – this game screams for a symphonic score!). The voice-acting is pretty lame but at least it’s in English.
Sin & Punishment is the best action game on the N64 (yes, even better than StarFox in my opinion). Despite being on rails, it really doesn’t feel like the others in its genre. It remains one of the best downloads available for the Wii’s Virtual Console, and should you pick it up you’ll be prepared for the sequel due in 2009/2010. I suggest using the Type 3 control scheme when playing this game with the classic controller.
Quick Run Down
- Spectacular graphics & pyrotechnics
- Challenging levels and bosses
- Great for short bursts of play
- English cinematics
- Multiple difficulty modes extend its life
- Voice acting is pretty cheesy
- Controls will take some time to get used to
One Sentence Review: Easily among the best downloads available for the Wii’s Virtual Console.
One Word Review: Jaw-dropping.
Points of Interest:
- Saki appeared in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as a back-up character item.
- Sin & Punishment 2 was later announced for the Nintendo Wii.