Verse chorus verse: grunt, boss, grunt. In Sin and Punishment 2, the rhythm and structure remains as traditional as it ever was. Fistfuls of insectoid enemies are thrown relentlessly at your face for five minutes, then ten seconds of calm before the storm of a mid-boss fight with a 10-foot tall strutting chicken called 'Cock Keeper'.
As feathers flutter to the ground all around, it's back to the business of machine gunning down conveyor-belt soldiers whose ambition reaches no further than to chip away at your health bar while providing fodder for your ballooning multiplier. The level heaves like an orchestra, gunfire the timpani in a build that rolls up to a dizzying crescendo: a fight with a giant flaming space turtle. Konnichiwa bitches, it metaphorically screams. You can pop that Milo video in the Recycle Bin and shove your MotionPlus in the drawer: Treasure's back to remind us all why we play videogames.
In many ways the Sin and Punishment 2 developer is the antithesis of contemporary Nintendo. While each company's games may be tuned and polished to an unusually high degree, this boutique codeshop turns out few titles that your grandmother would be happy settling down to of an afternoon. With deep combat, complex scoring systems and a talent for clothing twitch gaming in outstanding art direction that stretches the hardware's technological boundaries, these are games for the talented and tenacious; gamers willing to dedicate themselves to the pursuit of high-score perfection.
So the marriage of Sin and Punishment to Nintendo's hardware-du-jour is an unexpected one. Whether the decision to start work on this sequel came before or after the original N64 game found its way onto the global Virtual Console channel is unclear. Perhaps Treasure's dazzling on-rails shooter sold enough digital copies to justify this sequel, or perhaps they just released it to a wider audience (the N64 version was Japan-only) to soften the ground for a sequel on which work had already begun. Regardless, what's immediately clear is that Sin and Punishment 2 is an assured continuation of the spunk and spectacle of the original - one that, in the Wii remote and nunchuck, has at last found its ideal control scheme.
You point the Wii remote and squeeze the trigger to fire an automatic volley of bullets at the reticule on screen. This hail of trace-lined projectiles tears into the distance to whittle away at enemy hit points, killing them softly by chip damage increments. In contrast, the A button, when held down, stills your fire while filling a gauge built into the reticule. When this is maxed-out you release the button to paint the screen in a cleansing fireball.
Tap the trigger briefly and, depending on which of the two characters you're playing as, you'll either let go a flurry of sword swipes or flying kicks for close quarters combat. It's intuitive in a way that its predecessor struggled to be and, after just five minutes with the new system, we were wishing Treasure had taken the time to rework the original control system when updating the game for Virtual Console.
In a similar way to other on rails shooters such as Panzer Dragoon and Rez, the camera moves along a fixed path - leaving you free to move your character around the screen using the nunchuk. In contrast to other on-rails shooters such as Panzer Dragoon and Rez, the camera wheels and dives with unmatched drama. The window onto the derelict Tokyo-esque city through which your character runs, tumbles and hoverboards zooms and pans frenetically. It offers three-quarter views on the potholed streets far below one moment then extreme close-ups as you squeeze between two dilapidated office buildings the next.
At some points your view shifts a full 180 degrees and you fight waves of enemies upside down - concrete for a ceiling, skies for a floor, gulping down the contents of your stomach. It's this sense of white-knuckle choreography that defined the original game and here the rollercoaster ride is just compelling, even if the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic capital city is tired.
That said, Treasure's muted colour scheme, all dull greys and subdued blues, is imbued with excitement and character through interruptions of purplish flight trails and hot scarlet explosions. This stylised presentation paints over any sense of disappointment at the jagged 3D models that furnish its world.
The two characters, Isa and Kachi, follow anime cliché as implausibly powerful children pitted against an insatiable onslaught of enemies and monsters. But their acrobatics are mesmerising and differ slightly: Kachi, the girl, is able to paint lock-on targets for her smart bomb attack and kick instead of swipe with a sword at close quarters.
The game's emphasis is on high-score attack, with a nuanced multiplier system encouraging thoughtful combat. The HUD is elegant and understated, the multiplier indicators flashing up above fallen enemies acting as visual ticker-tape readouts to aid score attempts, rather than bombastic headlines to merely encourage you on your way.
The classic quiet-loud-quiet structure recalls the company's classics, throwing multitudes of weak enemies at you before mid-boss after mid-boss en route to a final boss encounter. Midway through the level we had the chance to complete, the onslaught of flying bugs and foot soldiers parted to make way for a tussle with the aforementioned Cock Keeper. His fireballs had to be shot down to clear the air to allow for a direct shot at his torso.
Later, a one-on-one battle with a red katana-wielding enemy commander offered no clue as to how the evil forces of humanity came to join with those of oversized poultry, but lots of opportunity for twitch-based tactical play. Finally, the closing highlight with the giant turtle provided the perspective-shifting attacks found in the company's best attack pattern work in Radiant Silvergun et al.
As the Wii continues to mature, so its library broadens. But aside from its forebear on Virtual Console, there's nothing quite so hobbyist-centric as Sin and Punishment 2 available for the hardware. Indeed, here there is evidence of Treasure riffing on their old and favourite themes with a focus and clarity we've not seen for some time.
But the irony of the fact the most hardcore game of this generation may yet be found on its most casual platform will be irrelevant to the developer. Their concern is simply to deliver a compelling experience that offers the most suitable control scheme for the hardware. On this evidence, everything is going to plan.