Review: Sin and Punishment (N64)

Run and gun fun

Treasure is no stranger to the Virtual Console – we've already experienced the sublime 'run and gun' gameplay of Gunstar Heroes and the wonderfully deranged Dynamite Headdy. This tiny Japanese developer has a back catalogue packed with classic titles, but one that sticks out more than most is Sin & Punishment.

Released in the twilight days of the N64 console, this unique on-rails blaster pushed the hardware to the breaking point with massively detailed levels, intricate character and enemy models and – most importantly – action that was so fast and furious it made your eyes hurt just trying to keep up with it all.

It was the perfect swansong for Nintendo's much-maligned 64-bit machine, yet it never saw release outside of Japan – a crime against videogaming that the Virtual Console can now set straight.

If you're after a reference point to get a better idea of what S&P is about, think of Starfox crossed with Space Harrier and you're almost there. It's unfair to even attempt to compare S&P with other games as it's so original and innovative; it may rely on tried and tested shooter elements but it's the way everything has been fused together that makes the game so damn good.

The game is peppered with standout videogame moments, including chasing bosses down claustrophobic tunnel systems and taking on an entire enemy armada whilst gliding around on a piece of shattered masonry. S&P is also full of neat, subtle touches; on one stage the viewpoint switches to a side-view akin to Gunstar Heroes or Contra.

Like Goldeneye and Mario 64, S&P was built around the N64 pad, allowing for pinpoint accuracy and total control. However, S&P functions very well on the GameCube pad – it's not quite perfect, but still not bad at all. Those of you that are new to the game will undoubtedly take to the revised control setup with ease – it's only hardcore veterans that will hanker for their old N64 controllers, and even then it only takes a few minutes to become accustomed to the change.

Conclusion

To put it simply, S&P is a true classic. It's a practically faultless shooter and (in my opinion at least) the pinnacle of the N64's output; make no mistake about it, this is worth every penny. Treasure even translated the game a bit: The menus and training mode are in English, along with the ending subtitles. Other cutscene subtitles are still Japanese. Because of this, the game costs 1200 Wii Points, which is still a bargain!

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