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VC Review: Sin and Punishment

Seven years ago, Treasure, the creators of Gunstar Heroes for the Sega Genesis, put together an on-rails shooter for the N64 called Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Earth. Quite possibly the most requested Virtual Console import game (and certainly one of the most wanted Virtual Console releases in general), Sin and Punishment has finally arrived — any core gamers scratching their head at the Japanese-only title should take notice as to why so many have clamored for this sought-after N64 swan song.


Released in 2000, Sin and Punishment is set on planet Earth in a hypothetical 2007, ironically enough. However, technology is far more advanced than it is for us today, and the world is in crisis. The plot is hard to follow, leaving out details all over, but is nonetheless intriguing and unique. The dark vibes from this title set a mysterious atmosphere that propels the mood to epic heights for an N64 title. Suffice it to say that mutated beasts have overrun Japan while the army is instigating martial law. Either way, what really matters here is grabbing a gun and blasting the heck out of everything in your way. It’s in this endeavor that Sin and Punishment excels.

The game plays out as an on-rails shooter — anyone familiar with StarFox 64 will immediately recognize the format. Instead of flying in a ship, however, players take the role of a pair of rebel teens named Saki and Airan, switching between the two as the story progresses. The run and gun action at play here is simply stunning to behold. While the flow continues forward for most of the adventure, players have movement over their character: jump, dodge, move left and right, etc. While avoiding attacks and obstacles, the control stick is used for aiming a reticle at foes in order to shoot them. Keeping track of the character and shooting at everything can be overwhelming to juggle at the same time, but mastering the controls is a rewarding task (you can even split movement and shooting duties between two players if things are too tricky). A helpful tutorial mode will even show newcomers the ropes.

While the gameplay is spot on, the presentation is also some of the best on the platform. The story scenes may be rushed and cheesy, making little to no sense, but the graphical power at work combined with artistic design make Sin and Punishment one of the prettiest N64 titles to have been released. The sound effects are great, as well, and help to pump things up. All in all, the action showcased here is set within a shiny casing — they may look a bit bland today, but for the N64, this was top-notch.

Everything sounds fine and good, and believe me, it is, but the main flaw with this superb title is just how short it is. As is often the case with such refined action games, Sin and Punishment reaches its climax much sooner than many would like. Were it not for the $12 price, this wouldn’t be much of an issue — the quality of the level design and boss fights are high — but many gamers may feel like the adventure is too short. Those who really get into things, however, will likely revist the game again and again on higher difficulty levels, just to enjoy it some more and get better at it for the sake of fun. This is an acrade experience on a console, designed to be replayed and mastered; it may feel very short, but length was sacrificed for quality here.






Outstanding Visuals (N64)



Hardcore Difficulty


Steep Learning Curve



Sharp Gameplay


Editor’s Choice

Score: 4.5/5




Final Verdict:
Buy It!



Sin and Punishment is a lost gem in Nintendo’s rich history, and seven years later, we can finally experience it. A blend of Starfox 64 and Gunstar Heroes, it pulls all the stops to deliver a thrilling adventure. Thankfully, it’s just as fun as it was back in 2000, sporting epic set pieces which are arguably some of the best the medium has to offer in the genre. It’s a whirlwind ride from beginning to end, never letting the player break free from its unrelenting, white-knuckle action. Despite the brevity of its campaign, this title is well worth experiencing, and $12 is a good price when considering how much the original cartridges cost today. If anything, buy Sin and Punishment to enjoy a daring on-rails shooter from the past that pulls everything together into a wonderful package. Bear in mind that by purchasing it, a message is being sent to Nintendo to import even more Japan-only games our way.






2 Responses to “VC Review: Sin and Punishment”

  1. Too true. I just purchased the game a few hours ago and everything you say is right on target. Well, I’m unsure about the length as I haven’t gotten very far, but whether it is or not, I will be playing several times after I complete it, so it will seem to be just as long as most games. I’d love to see a sequel for the Wii, especially now that Saki is in Brawl…his updated look proves that this title can only improve if it’s expanded to the newest Nintendo console.

    Anyway, as the reviewer stated, this is a must-buy for anyone who enjoys games…a timeless title with great gameplay.

  2. I love Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Earth, my bfriend managed to track it down for me, such a nice game and the graphics are great for its age. I will definitly be getting a copy if it comes out on the wii!

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