In a nutshell: Bullet heaven.
Posted by Kyle Orland (September 20, 2010)
Games for Lunch chronicles the first hour of a different game every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Each hour ends with the answer to the only question that matters at that point: Do I want to keep playing? For more information, check out the Frequently Asked Questions.
Release Date: June 27, 2010
ESRB Rating: T
Official Web site
In a nutshell: Bullet heaven.
0:00 I played this for literally five seconds or so at some E3 or another without really feeling it. I know the original Sin & Punishment is held up as some sort of paragon by hardcore shmup fans, so my expectations are kind of high.
0:01 I can hear the Wii disc drive going a bit nutso as the game loads on a black screen. Synth-heavy Japanese techno playing over the title screen reminds me a bit of Metroid Prime. The Wii Remote pointer I use to enter my file name is a lizard, for some reason.
0:02 I can use the Remote and Nunchuk, the Classic Controller, the Gamecube controller or the Wii Zapper. Personally I'd rather have one well-designed control option than three confusing ones...
0:05 After some options setting, I start a new single-player game on Normal difficulty. I go with female Kachi rather than male Isa, figuring I'll need her auto-lock ability to help me through what's supposed to be a very tough game.
0:06 A ship punches towards the heavens. "Thrusters primed. Thirty seconds to atmospheric breach. Should be smooth sailing from here on out," Isa says. Right on cue, the ship starts to shake violently. "You thought we'd just let you leave?" asks a disembodied voice. "Hand over the girl." The ship crashes on a snowy clearing, followed by some tiny alien saucer. Fade in from black as Isa comes to. The ship is totaled, and the reactor is about to explode. "All right, here's the plan... we need to get out of here now." WOW, what a GREAT plan, Isa. That's why you're the man, I guess.
0:09 So we have to take out the intruders on the ship before the security locks will open to let us out. OK... that security system makes no sense
0:10 In control now as Kachi automatically runs down a bluish hallway. I control her movement along a 2D plane on the foreground of the screen, hovering on a jetpack when I leave the floor. I aim with the Wii Remote pointer, which automatically locks on to some tiny metallic walkers and some incredibly stupid gunmen who just run in and stand there waiting to die quickly. The auto-lock helps quite a bit, but apparently those locked shots do less damage. Doesn't seem a big deal yet...
0:12 Why would anyone use the jump button when you can just hover indefinitely? The latter is much more useful for dodging the angled lasers in this hallway.
0:14 The only problem with the lock-on, so far, is that it will stick with an enemy until it's dead. This is a problem if there are a lot of tiny enemies and one really heavy-duty guy on the screen. I can change by letting go of B, but who wants to do that? Bleh.
0:15 The newly introduced charge shots help with lock on problem, breaking my regular gun’s lock and targeting up to ten enemies at once with some lock-on missiles. I'm starting to get a Star Fox 64 vibe here.
0:17 The game has been very generous with health refills so far... not that I've really needed them. I learn I can knock back physical projectiles (rather than energy beams) with a melee attack by tapping B, but the timing is quite tough. Also, is it weird that my first instinct was to shake the Wii Remote to do the melee attack?
0:18 "I think that's the last of ‘em. Let's get going," Of course, just as Isa says this, a giant spider appears behind behind Kachi. "This is not what I NEED right now," she says, apropos of nothing.
0:20 That was pretty boring, as boss battles go. Just aim for the central hub while dashing away from stomping legs and some pretty 3D fireworks. Afterwards, we jump off the ship just as it's exploding and fall into an open crevice in the ice.
0:21 After the Boss, Life and Special Bonuses, I end up with 2.236 million. I'm amazed that the game has an online leaderboard, but not so amazed when the game doesn't tell me where my score ranks after I submit it.
0:22 Isa is unscathed from the long fall into some sort of underground city, while Kachi is IMPALED ON A HUGE SPIKE! Wait, she says she's "good as new" despite the impaling. And then she just magically teleports to the ground next to Isa. Um, did we know she could do that?
0:23 "Hope I'm not interrupting," says a floating guy in a black Nehru suit. "Hand over the girl. Act swiftly and I might just spare your life." Isa points his gun, then lets the floating guy take Kachi. "Peel away that mask and reveal your true nature, monster," he demands. Instead, she disappears from her bonds. Isa shoots the floating guy, who blocks the attack with a fore field. Kachi and Isa run off. "Yes. Flee. Running is nothing but an exercise... in futility." Wow, that pun is so bad, it's almost good. ALMOST.
0:24 Quote of the moment: "Now we run like our lives depend on it. Because they do!"
0:26 So far this level is full of a lot of flying enemies that look like goldfish crossed with giant sperm. They're mostly harmless since they remain in the background while I run parallel to them in the foreground. Good for target practice, mostly.
0:27 I take out a boss helicopter (and the lame-o soldiers on its wings) without any problem, then fly through the city some more. Now I actually have to dodge a goodish number of energy attacks. As long as I keep moving, they seem to fire where used to be, rather than where I will be.
0:30 Just took down an absolutely gargantuan white bird, named Phoenix Keeper. He lets out some screen-filling orange energy shots and some rolling white crabs, neither of which is exceptionally tough to dodge. I've somehow earned a 16x score multiplier without actively realizing it.
0:31 I'm tailing a truck now that lets out some bouncing explosive mines that do some serious area effect damage. I also utterly fail at timing my melee attack to knock back some missiles. My health is starting to take a beating, here.
0:33 Another helicopter mini-boss, this time with some missile support from the ground. I'm down to 18/100 health!
0:34 I have the white-suited "Squad Leader" mini-boss (and his tank) down to 44/500 health when his little boomerang scythe thing hits me for a third time. It's hard to follow its path against the muddy backgrounds. At least that's my excuse. I've got to remember to use that evade button to make me temporarily impervious to that kind of crap.
0:36 Squad Leader goes down easily the second time around. Now I'm fighting Floating Nehru Jacket Guy (FNJG). His force shield makes him impervious, until he pointlessly comes towards me and lets out an dizzying array of shiny blue energy bullets in a large arc. I eventually learn the only way to avoid them is to stand right next to him, where I can jam on the B button to melee him to a quick death. What an anticlimactic battle.
0:38 "That puppet body was not strong enough to stop them," says a floating spinal column with some sort of robot head. I don't know. He watches Isa and Kachi on a screen, and is pleased to see they're running right into the lair of a Snapper Keeper, a "blunder that will surely cost them their lives."
0:43 Right into another boss battle, this one with a MASSIVE robot turtle falling down a circular shaft. He reaches out four stubby legs to stop his fall, then sends a flurry of rocks that fills almost the entire foreground. I can't seem to shoot them or effectively dodge, even with my "evade" button. A flurry of hard-to-track fire-breath and a series of spiraling energy attacks finally does me in.
0:45 The second time through I finally realize I can use melee attacks to easily take out the screen full of rocks. I'm so proud of this discovery that I don't effectively dodge the Keeper's mouth, leading him to chew me to near death.
0:47 Still having trouble dodging that fire breath as I die a second time. It's not often you see a boss in a game like this with an attack that's this hard to predict and dodge.
0:48 I'm getting really tired of the repetitive moan that Kachi gives whenever she gets hit. The enemies too, for that matter, seem to have only a single sound effect to express pain. I also don't like the way Kachi freezes a bit when she gets hit, which usually leads to a second hit.
0:52 I am down to 7/100 health when I finally take out the Snapper Keeper on my third attempt. My total score for the level is a measly 7,000 points, thanks to my ignoble deaths.
0:53 Isa explains to Kachi that the creature they just defeated wasn't a monster, but a Keeper, an artificial life form that "act as Earth's immune system" and sees them as "uninvited parasites." I feel much more enlightened and involved in the game's story now that I know that. Oh wait, that is the opposite of what I meant.
0:54 Isa points us towards a tunnel in the ocean under Fukouka Japan "should be free of enemies." "You're sure there are no enemies down here?" Kachi asks. "Positive... why would enemies hang out in a water tunnel." One, this is the worst bit of foreshadowing I have seen in a long time. Two, why do these guys call the things they're shooting "enemies"? Are they video game critics? Three, how are they having such a calm conversation when running alongside each other at full pace?
0:57 Riding down a cylindrical tunnel of air deep under the water. Tons of tiny jellyfish-type things flying about, plus some submersibles that fire missiles from afar. Pretty easy so far.
1:00 Well, it was pretty easy until the giant eel came by for a series of brutal, hard-to-dodge attacks. It eventually takes me down with a whip of its tail.
Would I play this game for more than an hour? Yes.
Why? My eyes are still showing after images of the bullet patterns even after I've stopped playing. This is a good sign, in my book.
This review was based on a retail version of the game provided by the publisher.
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