Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sin & Punishment: Reading between the dimensions

Deviating from my undying love of vertically-scrolling shmups (Tate mode forever ♥), I'd like to take a moment to observe a peculiar behavior of mine in Sin & Punishment. There's a section of Scene 2-1 (or as I like to think of it, the one after you take part in drowning Tokyo in a fiery sea of magma) wherein you have to defeat a miniboss that spews out an array of candy corn bullets. For whatever reason, I always find myself reorienting the camera, in my head, to be a top-down perspective, allowing me to dodge all bullets with ease. It seems way more difficult to view the bullets as is - a barrage of near-overlapping oranges that grow larger.

It makes me wonder, then, why Treasure (♥) decided to add this section of the game (to which I can't seem to find a similar one elsewhere). Level variety and their clever use of space aside, this seems apart from all of the other bullets-coming-at-you / creatures-crawling-towards-you stylings of seemingly everything else in the game. It could be that they originally tried out this bullet pattern and found that a closer camera made it too hard to see what's coming, or even the inverse - that their 3rd-quarter camera perspective allowed them to make more complicated patterns. And so they did.

The rhythmic pulsing of the bullet waves remind me heavily of a section in Chapter 2 of Ikaruga, shown here in a near-flawless run. The player must daftly maneuver through various symmetrical waves of bullets that need to be dealt with in one way or another. Although, in Ikaruga's case, the challenge here is in maneuvering through the unstoppable waves, while you were expected to obliterate the entire miniboss in S&P (to put things in very general terms, you dot-eating max-chainers out there).

Another way to think of this situation is to think of your character as a ship that has the added ability to "jump" (pun definitely intended) through different Z-depths, effectively dodging a particularly pesky array of life-stealing orange cones. True, this has been done before as far back as 1942 (the game, not the year) and Zaxxon (the video game, not the board game), but in this case you get to do it with a complicated control scheme.

Below, that very section of 2-1. I suppose this player wasn't thinking in the top-down fashion, hence the numerous errors. On the other hand, he seems to ace the subsequent sections, so I'm at a loss.

[cross-posted to Gamasutra]


  1. Hey man -- I'm really impressed with what you've done so far with your blog. I just posted it on my twitter and will post it in my forum as well. If you ever want to do a guess post on just let me know!

  2. Thanks! Glad to hear the shmup love is spreading around. :]