Sin & Punishment: Successor Of The Skies
Edge|December 2021
How Treasure came out all guns blazing for its last big game
Jon Bailes
Over a decade on, it’s alarming to realise that Treasure’s sequel to Sin & Punishment is still one of its most recent releases. In fact, Successor Of The Skies was the Tokyo developer’s last new release in the west before Bangai-O: Missile Fury, and its last new physical console release anywhere. Back in 2010, who would have guessed we would go so long without a fresh release from the studio?

Perhaps the signs were there. After the turn of the millennium, the company had increasingly fallen back on licensed titles and sequels – and while quality remained high, that was a far cry from the string of originals that had catalysed its reputation for bold yet tightly crafted action. But more than that, in retrospect Successor Of The Skies (Star Successor in the US) has the air of a last hurrah. It’s the equivalent of a suitcase overpacked to cover every eventuality, its contents poised to burst out the moment they’re unzipped. Even compared to Treasure’s usual exuberance, this feels like a game designed like there’s no tomorrow. And as sad as it might be to think that in a sense there wasn’t, it all makes for some leaving do.

Successor Of The Skies isn’t a numbered sequel, and that seems right given the gulf between it and the original Sin & Punishment. The two share a genre – ostensibly they’re both into-the-screen on-rails shooters – but the plot and characters aren’t a direct continuation (although there are links), and the leap in host technology between Nintendo’s N64 and Wii is a literal gamechanger. The first is a fine work, for sure, but its vision feels restricted by the older machine and its controller. The sequel sets out to make clear from the start that it’s slicker, more capable, more dynamic.

It absolutely succeeds. You’re flung into the action less than two minutes after leaving the title screen, the game almost apologetic that it has to bother you with its scenario at all. In a single scene you meet protagonists Isa and Kachi (you can play as either) aboard a spaceship. They’re being pursued by a villain who wants ‘the girl’ (Kachi). The ship gets shot down and crash lands. It’s going to blow up. They need to escape. All right? Off you go. It’s succinct enough to have veteran players staring wistfully into the distance, muttering about how games used to be real games, they didn’t need ‘themes’ or ‘emotions.’ But no matter how cultured games become as a medium, there is something enduring – sophisticated, even – about the focus of an action game that nails a quick start.

Here, it triggers a momentum Successor Of The Skies quickly builds on. Within a few more minutes, you’ve not only been propelled through the basics – move and aim your targeting reticule separately; jump, roll or fly around the screen – but also taken down a roomful of mechs and rocketlauncher goons, engaged in a Time Crisisstyle shootout with some bedded-in enemy soldiers, and soared through a laser grid as your ship’s defence systems go on the fritz. And that’s all before the obligatory boss fight: a hangar-filling spider robot with piledriver legs and a bullet-hell flamethrower. This is level 0. Part tutorial, part statement of intent.

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