The Cult of the Game: Sin and Punishment
March 8, 2009, 10:22 pm
Filed under: The Cult of the Game | Tags: , , , ,

Importing seems to be dead these days. With the global nature video games have become few gems of games are rarely released exclusively to a single region. While importers in the past would clamor for games like Parodius, Snatcher and fighting games based on the Dragon Ball Z and Ranma licenses nowadays games that may seem too “Japanesecentric” or based off major anime titles get released here with some level of regularity. Much of this is to the Kudos of publishers like Atlus who see the massive cult followings these games have and reward the loyal fanbase by releasing titles like Odin Sphere, Diagaea and Persona for the masses. Even if titles aren’t released on this side of the ocean thanks to the internet it’s easy to e-mail imported games and with most systems having loose legion locking measures it’s often fairly painless to get these games running on your system.

This wasn’t the case during the 90’s, where the video game import scene was starting to build steam. Many people had to find specialty retailers in their area, most of them Asian run shops that would get games for their customers who had brought over systems from Asian territories. Failing that most would have to go through mail order services from the backs of video game magazines. From here many import superstars came to be and one of the biggest import only games for a long time and one of those last superstars was Sin and Punishment for the Nintendo 64.


Sin and Punishment is an odd bird of an Asia exclusive game. Developed by shooter veterans treasure for Nintendo the game featured a difficult and bizarre plot that may have been felt would alienate western audiences during its development it nonetheless had been rumored to have a North American release. Note that the original game featured lots of English voice acting as well as English menu options. However due to the sagging sales of the N64 the plug was pulled but due to the aforementioned oddities Sin and Punishment became the perfect game for import video game fans.

The plot is about as absurd as they get, starting with generically created animals meant to feed human’s ballooning population turning into crazed mutants known as ruffians who start attacking the cities. During the story the main character fights through enemies, becomes a giant EVA like monster, and secret societies all leading to amazing set pieces like running down futuristic highways and fighting on floating pieces of metal in the middle of the ocean.

Sin and Punishment is best described as an on rails shooter like Starfox. Players have the ability to shoot individual targets or “lock on” to multiple targets and fire at will, which is particularly great for large groups of multiple targets or especially jumpy targets that are hard to hit. Locks on shots however are weaker than aimed shots. You also have a powerful energy sword, which can slice enemies that are close by and reflect attacks back to the enemy. Some enemies can only be defeated by having their shots reflected back at them. Since your main character is usually on foot you’re also given a full assortment of jump, roll and double jump moves to help avoid attacks and obstacles.

Graphically Sin and Punishment is dated but looks good, especially for an N64 game. While polycounts are low texture detail is simply amazing and really you won’t notice how crude some the models are when your screen is filled with dozens of soldiers or even hundreds of ruffians. Sin and Punishment is the kind of game that proves a little style can make up for technical deficiencies.

Muscially Sin and Punishment features an amazing sci fi rock soundtrack that compliments the action very well. Its quick paced and flows with the action very well. As for sound it’s simply amazing, every explosion and laser shot is crisp and clear. As stated earlier there is a heavy amount of voice acting, odd for the limitated space of the N64 cartridges and while it’s not the best job in the world adds to the story line especially during the cut scenes.

One of the big triumphs of Sin and Punishment is the fact that it varies its levels so well. Often time’s shooters have a problem with presenting the same old each level with little variety. Sin and Punish switches up levels in every way possible, from how the level scrolls to the way you move around, camera angles and even switching the game to a 2d side scrolling section while not compromising the control scheme. Another great nod to amazing game design is the two player mode. While there is no option on the screen that discusses it all you have to do is plug in a second controller and player one controls the movements while player two control the aiming, creating a different and unique co op experience.

Thanks to all the clamoring over the years from fans Sin and Punishment has become available to play on the Wii Virtual Console and even has an announced Wii sequel mentioned to be in the works. Ultimately the importers of the world can claim a victory here, so long as a game is great it will find its audience and Sin and Punishment has done that in spades. It’s very much worth the VC download and is a must for shooter fans everywhere.


1 Comment so far
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This game is really amazingly good, I wasn’t aware you could actually plug in another controller for co-op mode! I thought both players just had to share the one controller. Haha.
Anyway you nailed all this game’s good points, especially the level design. I also really love the soundtrack.

Comment by -tce

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