Cardinal Sins - M-Kai

Cardinal Sins


2005, developed by M-KAI

Reviewed by Druuna.

What I would like to review today is a game called "Cardinal Sins" available only on the Bandai's Handheld console: the "Wonderswan".

This game is based on another M-Kai's Wonderswan game called "Judgement Silversword" a more traditional shmup with stunning graphics and "total-destruction" gameplay. I will try to write a review of this one too (I hope with some help from other users at forum that are playing this game too).

The game is based on the tradition of japanese Caravan games in wich you have to try to beat highscores in a limited amount of time but Cardinal Sin is also adding something new to the genre: infact in every stage you have particular objectives to reach if you would like to improve your score. Since all the text in the game is in Japanese you have to try new tactics to understand what to do, sometimes is easy sometimes not, but after a few hours of play you will be able to understand what to do.

First of all the bad news: this game has not been released as a commercial product, it's freeware but to play "Cardinal Sins" you need the Wonderswan Development Kit called "WonderWitch". The kit is quite expensive and it's very difficult to find outside Japan. The only way to buy it is on Yahoo Auctions Japan(where I bought mine for 150$+shipping). Good news are that with this kit you will be able to play a freeware version of "Judgement Silversword"(that is different from the commercial edition, graphics are not as good as the commercial version),"Cardinal Sins" and "E-Force"(another shmup from M-Kai) and a lot of other homebrew titles.

Gameplay: this game is really the only manic shmup available on an handheld system and thanks to the possibility to play it in Tate mode(with the screen in vertical) it's clear that all the shmups fans will go crazy for "Cardinal Sins", in particolar I think that if you loved "Judgement Silversword:Rebirth Edition" you will love this one too. The gameplay is very very difficult, there're really an incredible amount of bullets and enemies onscreen and sometimes seems impossible to escape, but as always with a few hours,days or months(depends on your skills) you will be able to finish the game, but trust me when I say that "Cardinal Sins" is one of the hardest shmup I ever played. I think its difficulty level is due to the fact that this game is created for players with a lot of experience on "Judgement Silversword" and are in search of new challenges. As in their first games M-Kai put a lot of hard work in level design and gameplay, also consider that the game could receive improvements in a near future due to the fact that it's a freeware game available for download from its official website. Bullets and enemies are always clear to see thanks to dark backgrounds, bullets color and to the good quality of the Wonderswan screen.

Graphics are quite on the same quality with "JSS Rebirth Edition" with the difference that here the amount of bullets onscreen is higher. As you can see from these screenshots the game has also nice designed backgrounds and enemies. Like in most modern shmups when there are a large amount of bullets on screen the game slows down, this is not a defect but a way to improve the gameplay. Last levels of "Cardinal Sins" are very difficult and could be frustrating for occasional gamers but if you're an hardcore shmup player you will be simply delighted.

Sounds and music are really incredible: most are remixes of the original "Judgement Silversword" music. In particular one is simply addictive and reminds me of some tunes from the classic Nes shmup "Recca".


<<First Boss Intro

As you can see background graphics are well designed and very "old-skool" style.

Music and sound effects are very well made and are one of the most beautiful ever heard on the Wonderswan.

All in-game text is in Japanese.

A cascade of bullets!>>

Do you think this image shows a lot of bullets? In "Cardinal Sins" this is a situation of relative calm.


First Level >>

You have to destroy the maximum amount of enemies in 20 seconds


<< First Boss (2 in one)

In "Cardinal Sins" try to beat only one boss is too easy, in this image you can see that there're 2 bosses: the big green one, wich is a virtual projection of the first boss from "Judgement Silversword" and the little one on the right: these 2 together will throw on your ship some of the hardest bullet patterns you'll ever see!

Overall: 9 out of 10

If you love Manic and Caravan shmups you need this game!

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