Here’s a review I wrote way back for an old gaming blog I had back in 2007. It was a part of a series of games that were released to promote import games on the Wii virtual console, and us Brits had a chance to play the untouchable Nintendo 64 shooter, Sin and Punishment. Back in 2000, Nintendo of America were thinking of releasing this game to the west, but just as they were organising that, Nintendo of Japan were ready to announce the Game Boy Advance and Game Cube. So there wasn’t a point in localising the game as people were hyped for the new hardware. But I do remember seeing this game in the magazines and hoping to get a chance to play it. Well, in 2007 I did, on the Wii virtual console! A little costly for it’s 1200 Wii Points price, but without importing it and modifying a Nintendo 64 to play Japanese games, the price wasn’t going to cost my soul…
Sin and Punishment is one of those games that made N64 history in Japan, sitting next to Zelda Ocarina of Time, this Treasure classic was released in early 2000 in Japan with the intention to be released in the US and Europe, the problem was that by the time the game released in Japan, the Sega DreamCast was already released worldwide and the N64 was coming to an end. Even if the game was easy to localise, Treasure decided to cancel the International versions despite release the game in 2004 in China for the iQue (The Chinese N64). Due to its limited number of copies it’s one of the most sought-after N64 game for gamers, not just in Japan, but all around the world.
Nintendo began their first series of special Virtual Console games on the European Shop Channel calling it the “Hanabi Festival”, Hanabi meaning Fireworks in Japanese, started to introduce the Virtual Console’s first wave of Japanese import games made available for European Wii owners to buy and download. This included the Original Japanese Super Mario Bros 2, Ninja Jajamaru-Kun and Mario’s Super Picross. The last game in Nintendo’s Hanabi Event is the Legendary N64 game, Sin and Punishment, localised and with a 1200 Wii Point price tag (£8.40 GBP/ €12 EUR /$12 USD) making it the most expensive game on the European Shop channel so far. The price might be scary due to the fact that there are Xbox Live Arcade games cheaper then that, but this game is no simple port, Nintendo and Treasure worked on translating the Japanese text in the menus, options and title screen to make sure that you know what you’re doing. As for in-game, the game already has English voice-overs and the Japanese subtitles still exist.
Sin and Punishment takes place in a near future, 2007 to be exact, how uncanny that they release the game on the Virtual Console the same year that the game is in, heh. The world has been terrorised by an insect-like alien race named the “Ruffians”. The US Army have acquired Ruffian corpses and have been performing weird genetic experiments to make their Army stronger, to discover that the new Ruffian blood infused soldiers have turned into corrupt uncontrollable freaks that mutate into monsters. You play as one of two surviving rebels that want to bring back peace and order to the world, who have to fight against the US army that have been infused with Ruffian blood and prevent any more experiments, to discover that the Male lead protagonist, Saki, is in fact a Ruffian blood infused human and turns into a very powerful, 60 foot vertebrae Ruffian that the US Army has called “BEAST”. Playing as the Female protagonist, Airan, you go out to prevent the US Army to destroy the mutated Saki and turn him back into a human; however you end up being teleported from Japan to the USA and now you got to race to save Saki from being killed by the US Army.
The game play is pretty simple; it’s an on-rails shooter similar to the likes of StarFox64, Space Harrier and Panzer Dragoon. Except this time around you get the freedom to strafe left and right independently to avoid enemy fire with the D-Pad, whilst moving a cross-hair on the Screen with the analogue stick. The L button on the Classic Controller fires the gun, whilst the R button executes a jump. In close range of an enemy, the player’s gun turns into a light sabre and slashes the enemies, you can use this same move to deflect missiles, hurling them back towards the enemy. The A Button switches between two cross-hairs, a Manual mode, and a Lock-on mode. Manual mode allows you move the cross-hair with total freedom like in a typical shooting game, whilst the Lock-on mode will instantly lock the cross-hair onto the nearest enemy, however by doing this you sacrifice your fire power by 50 percent. The Issue that I have with these controls is Nintendo’s decision to put the fire button on the L Button rather then the R button. The reason why I’m saying this is because it makes sense that the hand you use to aim should be the same hand you use to fire. However in this case it’s flipped around and Jump button is on R instead, which makes the experience very weird. Originally on the Japanese N64 game, you would hold the N64 controller with your left hand on the D-pad with the right hand on the analogue stick, as the Z Trigger fires and the L Button is for Jump, which makes sense, but in this case, it’s quite weird that they swapped the buttons. There are other button layouts that you can try out, Such as using L and R to strafe rather then the D-pad, but this doesn’t really work very well for me, so I stick to the peculiar swapped button layout. If only Nintendo swapped those two buttons around to make it feel more like the actual N64 game, then it would make it a better experience for me, and I would be rating this game higher. Thing is, Nintendo in the past has fixed control problems in VC games before, so it’s very possible that there could be an update for this game soon that will swap these buttons around and will make the game a much better experience.
The Graphics in the game is very “blocky”, I mean fair enough, I can’t expect super quality poly-models on an N64 game, but it does make it feel that Zelda: Ocarina of Time have some poly-models that looks better on the eyes then this game. However the game does sport some really awesome camera techniques that I never thought was possible on the N64. In certain levels, the camera will pan and roll slightly depending on where the cross-hair in positioned on the screen, which gives the game an extra touch of polish. However the best is to come when you play in mid-air level riding on a levitating piece of metal; the whole environment will rock, roll and twist around giving the feel of some crazy mid-air flying, plus there’s a part where you’re practically hanging upside down and you actually feel like hanging upside down, something that I can honestly say, I haven’t ever felt in an N64 game before…
As for sound, it uses typical sound effects that you would find in an anime, even with the over exaggerated machine gun noises. The Voice acting isn’t too bad, but it’s still the typical kind of voice acting you’ll find in an anime, as if the whole game itself is meant to be an interactive anime. The background music consists of generic 80’s style rock music that’s kind of forgettable; however the first level music is only “semi-hummable”.
Overall, this game is still very good and it’s worth every penny, but as I said, the swapped buttons to me are a bit of a let down. I would prefer it if it had the button layout I want, or if Nintendo aloud me to map my own buttons. But the swapped buttons will definitely confuse you at first, here’s hoping that Nintendo will solve this problem with a Virtual Console Update.
Even since 2007, they never did fix those weird controls. As I’ve mentioned to people before, I don’t really like playing Nintendo 64 games without an actual Nintendo 64 controller. Maybe I should invest in one of those controller adapters…