Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies

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Sin & Punishment, Ikaruga dev creating 3DS exclusive

Japanese studio Treasure is working on a new project for Nintendo 3DS, the developer has announced.

"We are making a new game on Nintendo 3DS now. Not multiplatform, but exclusive to 3DS," Treasure boss Masato Maegawa told GamesTM magazine (via Nintendo Life).

The creation will be an "action" title, Maegawa teased.

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Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies

It is, perhaps, the most expensive videogame ever made. Not in the financial sense: Treasure, Japan's small yet consistently brilliant boutique developer has nothing like the resources of its high-profile Western counterparts, as the often-rudimentary graphical assets in this Space Harrier-style shoot-'em-up testify. But in creative terms Sin and Punishment: Successor of the Skies is a high-speed conveyor belt of valuable, distinct ideas, scenes and flourishes that dizzy the mind with their density and inventiveness.

An on-rails shooter, you move into the screen at a steady pace, the camera wheeling and diving as patterns of enemies streak across your fixed path. So nothing in the game is procedural or ad-hoc. There are no freeform battles to intersperse the set-pieces, as in a Halo or Modern Warfare, no moments where the developers can let the AI pad out the experience. Rather, every swoop of an enemy and pivot of a camera has been meticulously orchestrated, an assault of precision-laid creativity. This is a four-hour long rollercoaster ride far more expensive in ideas than any 60-hour RPG epic.

The rules are simple. You fire into 3D landscapes with a steady stream of shots. Lock-on an enemy and the need to keep the reticule manually trained disappears, albeit with a loss of firepower to offset the convenience. Where the first game in the series was locked to the ground, now protagonists Isa and Kachi have jetpacks and hoverboards and can seamlessly take to the skies and descend back into a run with an easing of the analogue stick. While your character exists only on a 2D plane at the foreground of your screen, by tilting and pivoting this angle into the world Treasure creates new, fascinating angles in the game, shifting it from side-scroller to top-down to vertical shoot-'em-up with disorientating yet delightful frequency.

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Iwata reflects on N64 dev challenges

Official translation of S&P Iwata Asks.

Nintendo has published an official translation of its "Iwata Asks" feature about Sin & Punishment 2, in which president Satoru Iwata and men from Treasure discuss how bats*** difficult it was to make anything work on the N64.

Sin and Punishment: Successor to the Sky

Sin and Punishment 2 looks like what would happen if a music visualiser developed sentience and tried to kill you. It envelops you in sweeping patterns of bullets, elegantly criss-crossing lasers and lens-flare, a deadly visual cacophony that puts you into a comforting trance as you flit defensively around the screen. But hidden behind these familiar graphical patterns is a deceptively innovative and flexible shooter; developer Treasure plays with your expectations and your instincts, and Sin and Punishment 2 comes out feeling at once like a genre greatest hits compilation and completely fresh.

Depending on which mood you catch it in, it can echo Bangai-O, Ikaruga or Space Harrier, but its own personality always shines through. A large part of the appeal is the glorious, inventive insanity of the levels, particularly the boss design. Each of the game's seven stages is wonderfully distinct, only occasionally throwing up a staple environment like a factory or a volcanic landscape or the final extraterrestrial battle with an enormous spaceship. The rest of the time it's completely off the rails. Some illustrative phrases from my notebook, jotted down whenever there was a five-second gap in the bullet assault: "forest of the testicle-mace golem", "magma guinea-pig and the baffling cranes", "four-pronged whale assault", "moonlit battle with the giant stonefrog", "cactus-hatted sand leeches".

Most of the time you're running into the screen on a 2D plane, but the camera angles are creative and the game sometimes turns you on your axis and becomes a side-scrolling shooter for a while, or zooms out to offer a panoramic top-down view. The elven main characters, Kachi and Isa, have been freed from the floor since the original Sin and Punishment, pulling out a hover skateboard or jetpack to float around the entire screen.

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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'.

Hardcore will "pay attention" to Wii soon

Dunaway says tide will turn next year.

Nintendo US almost-boss Cammie Dunaway reckons hardcore gamers will sit up and take notice of the Wii next year, as the "breadth of offerings" will increase to cover plenty of audiences.