You know, Saki is not back as Assist Trophy in Smash Ultimate …
Sin and Punishment is one of the strangest cases in the history of Wii's Virtual Console. This Treasure Co. project was a Japanese-only Nintendo 64 game set in Japan with the voice of Japanese characters entirely in English. It was only after the advent of WiiWare that he saw a correct English version, complete with translated menus.
But digital distribution is a double-edged sword. With the imminent death of WiiWare at the horizon, Sin and Punishment began to fall out of reach. It remains available via the Wii U eShop, but since the Switch does not have a Virtual Console in view of Nintendo's current plans, it is only a matter of time before Wii U eShop suffers the same fate as WiiWare, probably not it will be available forever. Which is a shame, because it is one of the most ambitious track shooters in circulation and my favorite game came out of the Wii Shop Channel.
Each level of this N64 shooter is combined with vocal action scenes that develop the Saki war against Ruffian mutants and oppressive armed Volunteers. My understanding of his companions, Airan and Achi, constantly changed with new information and developments. To be so short, these scenes probably take up about 25% of a complete playthrough, even if they always move at a steady pace. It is basically the plot of an anime of 13 episodes condensed in a 2-hour game. More specifically, the type of anime whose plot takes many strange turns with each major twist. As the kind of twists I'm going to share below
To be honest, when Saki fought a captain of armed Volunteers who attacked by teleporting his own soldiers and throwing them like bullets, I knew I had one strange around. I did not know that the captain would turn into a Ruffian skyscraping, pushing Saki to do the same as the battle of the boss who procures in Tokyo his own blood in a sea (aside, he is very bold and progressive for a game of the early years 2000 kaiju protagonist). An arc later, the entire plot is revealed as a ruse of Achi, who wants to train Saki to be a weapon against his real enemies that we never see in this game, which naturally leads us to usurp the role of the main antagonist. Oh, and the final boss is a fake land that you must destroy by protecting the real HP bar of the Earth. Yes, this plot intensifies stupidly quickly. I love it. Did I say that Saki gets control of his Ruffiana form thanks to the power of love? Because this also happens.
This story accelerates so much information that it is difficult to follow everything in a single game. I consider this part of its appeal, although this may probably be due to the fact that I repeated it several times and actually know what happens in every movie. In any case, condensing the plot to adapt to the rhythm of the game is a better alternative to drag the short playing time with long exposure dumps. In this way, the movies act as outlets of high-octane gameplay rather than grinding that adrenaline rush.
Sin and Punishment has a simple but surprisingly deep control scheme for a 3D shmup. In addition to aiming, running and shooting, you can jump, alternate target types, dodge the shot and use melee attacks. Sword shots sensitive to the context of Saki are extremely intuitive as they occur automatically as you continue to shoot quickly against threats at close range. Yet despite the simplicity of this set of moves, it's hard to master thanks to the plethora of creative bosses who interact with these skills and their environments.
Each phase is full of encounters that bring new tricks and challenges, but all are based on the understanding of basic mechanics in an easily understandable way (ok, with one exception of a tear that regenerates quickly). One of the first bosses is resilient to shooting but is vulnerable to falling off the stage, as mentioned in the movie before it. Another hovers in a circular arena full of obstacles, which requires to outsmart his movements to align your shots. Yet another is more vulnerable to his bullets, which you have probably learned by chance that you can reflect with your sword simply by attacking normally. These fights are so intuitive and different that you seem to constantly learn new tricks, making the gameplay always fresh.
Adding this learning curve with various difficulty options and the freedom to practice any single stage the main menu makes Sin and Punishment one of my favorite scoring attack games of all times. There is so much unique nuance in every meeting that I always feel that there is room to develop better strategies, and by extension, space to accumulate higher scores.
Sin and Punishment is one of the most delightfully unique games I've ever played. It represents a niche of an old game design that was ambitious enough to conquer a cult following that is not unlike another Nintendo game. The difference is that this game has finally seen the light of an English version. And that light is fading.
Digital only games can only circulate as long as their storefront exists. If those stores do not consider the inevitable withdrawal of their hardware, they eventually lose the accessibility they offer. When their stores go down, digital only games become immediately impossible to play without tracking down a console they already own. It is much more expensive and complicated than finding a single copy of an old game.
I do not offend Nintendo by releasing one of my favorite games through digital distribution alone, otherwise I would never have played it. But I'm disappointed that their Virtual Console policies continue to pedal back and accelerate the shop's inherent flaws. The fact that I can not freely download the Wii U versions of the same identical WiiWare titles or vice versa makes my protected collection unnecessarily more expensive than that of stores with cross-buy support.
Nintendo announced that they are not "Bring Virtual Console on Switch because they already have many other ways to sell classic games, but all these methods lack many previous versions of the Virtual Console." What most collectors and consumers want is a unique and reliable platform that will host an entire catalog of classic Nintendo games, not a bunch of incomplete platforms.And by comparing only the Wii and Wii U virtual console titles, all Switch's classic gaming options are incomplete because they lack many games that have not been removed from the others. Even the Wii U has only seen a gradual trickle of old WiiWare versions, a fraction of those.If the switch continues on its current trajectory, we have no reason to suppose that Sin and Punishment will never arrive at the Switch, or even any of Nintendo's most popular N64 versions
say in how long its games remain available. But at least others retain most of their libraries for longer than the storage life of their hardware. If Sin and Punishment were a PS1 game that otherwise had the same location problems, I would not fear for its future as now.
Sin and Punishment is a great example of why Nintendo should adopt better digital distribution policies … or rather online policies in general, really. It is unrealistically idealistic to hope for a future in which all games will be perfectly preserved forever before moving on to the public domain of the next century or so, but Nintendo is … Nintendo. They are known for producing and publishing many of the most beloved games ever made. Their history with online decisions that are hostile to consumers does not exempt them from being kept to the standards of their competitors, if not even higher, thanks to their monolithic presence in the videogames sector. It would be a shame if something as beautiful and unique as the English version of this game disappeared, because Nintendo does not meet the standards set by Sony and Microsoft.
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