This review was originally published in 2007 and we are updating and posting it to celebrate the arrival of the N64 games on Nintendo Switch Online.
Little Japanese developer Treasure has a back catalog full of classic titles, but one that stands out more than most is Sin & Punishment. This unique on-rail blaster, released in the days of the dawn of the N64 console, brought the hardware with massively detailed levels, intricate character and enemy models, and, most importantly, so fast and furious it hurt your eyes , to the point of breaking. try to keep up with everything.
It wasn’t until the release of the virtual console in 2007 that this hectic shoot ’em up became available to anyone in the west with a Wii – it was never released on Nintendo’s 64-bit machines outside of Japan, a crime against video games, if any because that was the perfect swan song for the console.
If you’re looking for a point of reference to get a better idea of what Sin & Punishment is all about, think Star Fox crossed with Space Harrier and you are almost there. It is a little reductive and unfair to even compare Sin & Punishment to other games as it is so original and innovative but you understand what matters. This title draws on tried and tested shooter elements, but it’s the way everything has been fused together that makes the game so darn good.
Sin and Punishment is the futuristic story of Saki, a man who wants to protect Japan from a double threat. Due to a food shortage, the Japanese government has developed a new species of animal that the public can eat. Unfortunately, everything in a hand basket goes to hell when the creatures mutate and start attacking everyday people across the Land of the Rising Sun. Join the Armored Volunteers, a “peacekeeping” force that wants to kill the mutated animals but has its own devious conspiracy at work.
While the story is a nice sci-fi thriller with some great little twists, it is a bit confusing at times. If you only want to perforate your enemies with lasers without fillers, you will be happy that every cutscene can be skipped at the push of a button. While it can be quite entertaining, you may want to avoid skipping anything the first time.
The game is peppered with standout video game moments, including chasing bosses through claustrophobic tunnel systems and taking in an entire enemy armada while sliding around on a piece of shattered brickwork. Sin & Punishment is also full of neat, subtle accents; On a stage, the perspective changes to a side view, similar to Gunstar Heroes or Contra.
Sharp shooters will want to take advantage of the game’s dual options when it comes to throwing guns. A blue ring marks the target and lets the players rattle off lap after lap with less powerful strokes. This is the best option for gamers if the title is new or struggling with the controls. Toggling to the red ring gives players full control over the target cursor, but also does more damage when the target is found. The ability to switch between the two recording techniques is a great addition to a title that feels a little overwhelming at times.
The insane amount of action throughout the Story Mode is the best aspect of Sin and Punishment. It’s an uninterrupted flood of bullets, lasers, missiles, and deadly attackers. And how do you deal with such obstacles? By blowing them up, of course! As Saki, you run and shoot your way through different environments, collecting points to destroy enemies, with speed and precision. The game forces you to use different tactics to defeat advancing enemies faster and with more power.
The graphics in Sin and Punishment are some of the best of the Nintendo 64 era. The characters are a bit blocky, but look crisp and fluid throughout the game and the various cutscenes. Enemies and environments are nicely detailed, and the game does a good job of keeping its frame rate up to date in its ever-changing war landscape. It couldn’t be Impressive They have certain outstanding graphics – certainly not by my modern standards – but the game has a polish that many games of the early ’00s lacked.
Like Goldeneye and Mario 64, Sin & Punishment was built around the N64 pad, which allows for pinpoint and complete control, and you’ll really want to use this controller to get the most out of the experience.
Simply put, Sin & Punishment is a real classic. It’s a practically flawless shooter, and with the best performance of the N64 up there. There’s even some translation work for menus and cutscenes in the virtual console and Nintendo Switch Online versions of the game. Make no mistake, it’s worth checking to see if it (understandably) passed you by. It really is one of the best games from one of the best developers.