[quote]

Space was divided between the Inner and the Outer. Between these two factions, there was a relentless, mutually hostile relationship. The Inner-Space used a race of warlike life-forms known as ‘humanity’ as pawns to resist acts of aggression from the Outer-Space forces. To do this effectively, they created a number of earths, where they cultivated humanity and used what they produced as the frontline of their defence.” [An actual excerpt from the actual manual, actually.]

And in other news, Japanese game narratives continue to vindicate my theory that they’re unremittingly sh**. Then there’s the usual cast of precocious, self-important preteens – including the requisite androgynous male in short, short pants and fetish boots – supported by the world’s worst voice cast, and a vigorous sample of the most fatuous dialogue and pointless, incoherent cutscenes conceivable.Sin & Punishment

So just forget about all that, because – surprise! – Sin & Punishment manages to be a very decent game in spite of its consummate failure to provide anything of substance elsewhere. How’s that? It’s loads of fun. Just skip all the stupid, talky bits in between and shoot bad guys instead, as the plot department over at Treasure must’ve secretly decided in some rare moment of sobriety.

The game’s technically a rail shooter, but it’s a rail shooter quite unlike anything other rail shooter I’ve ever played. In fact, it plays like nothing so much as an old school 2D arcade scroller that’s pushed and shoved its way into three dimensions – although the stop-clear-go rail gameplay is present, it’s ultimately much more like Ikaruga or Gunstar Heroes, that is, than something like Time Crisis or House of the Dead.

Sin & PunishmentAlso, why – whyyyyyyy – aren’t more developers making this sort of stuff for the Wii? The Wiimote pointer is so obviously made for shooters, it’s almost criminal that Nintendo even publishes anything else. The control system – backed up with the Nunchuk for manoeuvring – just works. Just try blasting four hundred incoming whatsits and simultaneously melee-punting rockets back at other whatsits while you’re jetpacking around 480p of bullet hell with any other controller, and see for yourself.

Of course, like most of Treasure’s games, Sin & Punishment isn’t exactly easy. The occasionally brutal difficulty is somewhat mitigated by frequent checkpointing, although some of the later boss encounters might prove frustrating to people who don’t like trying things over more than, say, 15 times. If you’re made of the intrepid sort of stuff that laughs condescendingly in the face of overwhelming opposition, however, get locked and loaded.

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