Sin And Punishment is a game developed by the highly acclaimed developer Treasure. Unlike many other Treasure games, Sin And Punishment was only released in Asia. Because of it's limited run and high import demand, it has become a very rare sought after game over the years. Seven years after it's initial release Nintendo has finally released it worldwide onto the virtual console as an import title.
So what exactly is the concept of Sin And Punishment? The game is an on rails 3D shooter fashioned in the style of over the top arcade experience. Your main objectives pretty much are to shoot up everything in sight, survive, as well as to study and to adapt to different situations, patterns, enemies, and bosses.
The entire game is themed around a futuristic setting of japan with subtle overtones of magic, spirituality, and the urgency of a potential apocalypse. This theme really does work well for this type of game. In combination with the theme and the story, both elements help meld meaning and reasoning into your every move.
With exception to the horrible voice acting, and some of the messy character models, the presentation is astounding for an N64 game. So much detail has been put into all of the environments that you encounter throughout this game. They are all very rich in both color and texture and overall they really are quite pleasant to look at despite this game being released in the year 2000 for a now primitive 64 bit console. For the time, these graphics pretty much were mind blowing for the system. Although they aren't as advanced as some of the expansion pack games, graphically Sin and Punishment holds up very well in comparison to later more advanced 64 titles.
As For the music, it really does fit well. Although I may not be a huge fan of the 64's midi chip interpretation of the electric guitar, the songs themselves hold a very arcadish character to them, whiling simultaneously enveloping you into the whole atmosphere of the game. Overall the songs are easily forgettable though. When I'm actually playing, I really find myself appreciating the music, but shortly afterwards I can't remember a single note. The only thing I can grasp onto afterwards with the music however is the memory of the general feel and vibe it brought to me.
Sin and punishment definitely has a story to keep you going in this game. Like I said earlier, the story here really helps provide reasoning and meaning for your actions. As fitting as the story is in all aspects of this game, it really does not translate well if you are only taking it in context with the game itself. I'm not sure if my opinion on this would change if I was able to read the native Japanese text in the game's cut scenes, but as far as solely being reliant on the English voice overs, the story really seems to be very hard to follow when exclusively following it through the game. After reading the manual though, you'll find a great deal of insight into what is really going on in this mad mad world. Reading the back story in the manual will really help put rails on your comprehension of the actual in game plot.
Backstory taken from a translation of the manual:
It's the dawn of a new century, mankind has succeeded in maintaining peace and has prospered like never before. However, from this newfound prosperity has come a population explosion. This increase in mouths to feed has caused a strain on the food supplies of the world. Shortages of food became critical in all regions of the world. Mankind needed a new food source, one that could breed even under the most abnormal conditions; and so scientists began creating a "New Species" of life. After some time, the scientists succeeded in creating this "New Species" of life, and Hokkaido (The north-most Japanese Island) was chosen as the huge nesting pasture. The humans who succeeded in obtaining the new source of food expected their new found prosperity to continue again.
From the midst of the "New Species" came mutated beasts which suddenly began to devour their human hunters. The attacking hoards which formed a loose group henceforth became know as "Ruffians", they travelled south through the Japanese Islands and gained control over all of north-east Japan. In Tokyo the Ruffian began invading in front of the very eyes of the city's inhabitants, large-scale riots of confused citizens occurred frequently. This situation led to dispatch of an international peace organization called the "Armed Volunteers", but they began to use their military force to suppress the people of Japan.
As expected, the future of Japan has become again... bleak. And possibly so has the future of humanity. On the other hand, a mysterious rumour began to circulate among the people of Tokyo, where the battle for the survival of mankind is being lost day by day.
The arrival and appearance of an organization of citizens which call themselves the "Saviour Group"...
The "Saviour Group" were formed from a group of people who recovered from illness, injury & sorrow due to the miracles of a mysterious holy woman called "Achi". The "Savour Group" is a self-defense organization of Japanese citizens who support themselves by hunting Ruffian, they oppose the Armed Volunteers who they consider hypocritical masses.
Exhausted and wounded people began to gather to the holy woman Achi one after another, and ask for "salvation".
However, her "salvation" was not without a price. In compensation the healed must "fight" in the name of the holy woman. Many weak people became involved in many unnecessary disputes, and began following a path to despair...
First off, I do not own the actual physical N64 cartridge of this game. I only own the Virtual Console version, so I will only be explaining the layout of the Virtual Console's best suited controller for this game. That controller would be the Classic controller, not the Gamecube controller. When I first initially bought this game I made the mistake of using the Gamecube controller, because most 64 games on the Wii are layed out better for that controller then the classic controller, but this game is clearly an exception.
To move your character in the only two directions possible, left and right, you will be using the D pad, or alternatively the Y and X buttons. You can also strafe by double tapping the directionally mapped out buttons. The right analog stick will move your on screen cross hair. Holding down the L button will provide you with a constant stream of firepower for distant enemies, while tapping it with close enemies nearby will discharge a slash attack with your sword. You may be questioning the choice of mapping these two actions to one button because of potential confusion or cheapening of gameplay, but here, that's not really the case at all. When you get to actually play the game, you'll thank God that they didn't go the route of mapping slashing to another button. Both actions blend together very nicely married to that one common L button.
As for the other buttons, A will change your cross hair between free roam targeting with raised power and Lock on targeting with weaker attacks. The whole addition of having this at your disposal throughout the game really adds to the depth and overall strategy. The R button is used for jumping,and tapped twice you can perform a double jump. The start button pauses the game while bringing up a small menu.
At first the controls can be a little awkward, but you have to realize that for an N64 game, it really did something different with the 64's controller back then. You'll eventually get used to it, but looking back at what the original button layout was and how it translated, I'd say it came out pretty well for a virtual console release.
What can I say? The game is fun, damn fun to be exact. Despite it's aged look, it really still holds up today in gameplay. Sitting down and playing this game today really excites me. It has that great unique hybrid feel of over the top arcade action with the serious overtones and highlights that we expect more from console games.
Graphically for an N64 game, it really does hold up well and it looks pretty pleasing to the old eyes. The story, the theme, the art style, and the music really all help transport you into this world Treasure has created. The game never gets old or repetitive because every level is pretty much a twist to something you've already done or it's a completely new experience.
Despite being a very solid title, the game is definitely not without faults. First off the voice acting is extremely horrible and in game phrases can get very repetitive and annoying extremely fast. Now some may argue that the voice acting may be so bad that it's good, and to an extent I can agree with that, but in account to the theme and the story of Sin And Punishment, the game is supposed to be presented with somewhat serious overtones. The voice acting really at the time and now is atrocious in its effort.
The character models are a train wreck of scrapped together polygons. You can tell what the characters are supposed to look like and you can still get the individual vibe of each character, but compared to numerous 64 titles these models aren't really up to snuff.
Hands down Sin and Punishment is really worth your money. Either buy it on the Virtual Console for 12 measly U.S. dollars or try to find it on Ebay. If you are a fan of 3d rail shooters, unique games, Treasure games, or if you just want something fun to play then this game is definitely for you. It brings so much to the table that you will enjoy. Just the overall mix and feel of a game that barely ever gets stale will keep you playing it until your death. You can play this game off and on casually as well as playing it to rack up a huge score, either way it's hard to deny that this game is fun and worthy of your time. If I had to give this game a grade then I'd definitely give it an A.