Hello boils and ghouls, it’s your old buddy, The Deepthroat Ghoul, and since Halloween is happening in one week time, my next review is related to the horror-survival video-game franchise known as Resident Evil.
Everybody and their mother already knows about Resident Evil, myself included, because I own the Sony PlayStation 1 port (named Resident Evil: Director’s Cut) and Nintendo DS port (named Resident Evil: Deadly Silence) of RE1, the Nintendo GameCube ports of Resident Evil 0, Resident Evil 2, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, the Sony PlayStation 2 port of Resident Evil 4, the Nintendo Wii ports of Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, the Sony PlayStation 3 ports of Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6, and the Nintendo 3DS port of Resident Evil: Revelations, so I don’t need to go into great detail about the franchise, other than how RE1 originally was going to be a remake of the 1989 Nintendo Famicom game Sweet Home.
Anyway, let’s take a look at Resident Evil Gaiden, developed by M4 Limited (with a little help from series creator Shinji Mikami) in late 2001/early 2002 for the Nintendo Game Boy Colour.
The story of Gaiden takes place around the same time as Resident Evil Code: Veronica on December 1998. After the events of both the Arklay Mountains outbreak in both RE1 and RE0, and the Raccoon City outbreak in RE2, RE3, and the two Resident Evil Outbreak games, ex-S.T.A.R.S. member Barry Burton and ex-RCPD officer Leon Scott Kennedy both joined an underground organization established to putting an end to the global operations of Umbrella, the pharmaceutical enterprise responsible for both disasters. The initiative receives a rumour that the luxury cruise-liner “Starlight” is carrying a new type of bio-organic weapon developed by Umbrella, and Leon is sent in for a full investigation, but HQ shortly loses radio contact with him. And so, Barry is dispatched to the ship to rescue him, and along the way, he comes across an orphan named Lucia who, for some reason, can sense the presence of Umbrella’s new BOW, and also possesses some other mysterious abilities. Once Barry and Lucia find Leon, the mission is now simple: the trio must destroy the BOW and get off the Starlight!
The plot was written by Hiroki Kato, the director of Code: Veronica. But once RE0, the GameCube remake of RE1, and RE4 all came out, Gaiden was removed from the main RE timeline. However, elements from Gaiden’s story were implemented into Revelations.
Now, I’ll come right off the bat and tell you straight up, this is not a good game. Gaiden is a poor excuse for a pseudo-RPG. Yes, that’s right. This game has RPG elements, which sounds cool, but trust me, it’s the most boring RPG you’ve ever played in your life!
The only creatures that you fight in this game are Zombies and the BOW, which is a shape-shifting Tyrant. That’s it. No Lickers, no Zombie Dogs, no Spiders, no Hunters, nothing. There are three different types of zombies: the male ones, the female ones that can poison you, and the male ones wielding crowbars as weapons.
Let’s talk about the gameplay, which is divided into two sections. For the environment portions, you assume a top-down exploration mode by going around opening doors, avoiding confrontation with the enemy, solving puzzles, and picking up items such as keys, files, and weapons. Pressing the Select button opens up your inventory so you can fiddle around with your items or look at any files you’ve picked up, and pushing the Start button takes you directly to the map screen, which shows the areas you’ve been to in green, and your current location in red. If anything is near you or something bad is about to happen, you will see its icon in the bottom of the screen. For example, if you’re near an item, weapon or file, you get a green exclimation mark.
Once you approach an enemy, they grab you, and you push them away, or if you stand at a safe distance, hold down the B button, move the D-Pad towards the enemy, and then let go, the game changes to a first-person combat mode with a reticle constantly moving to the left and right. To attack, you must press the A button while the reticle is in range of the enemy. If you shoot at the middle of the enemy indicator, then you hit them on the head and score a critical hit. These critical hits are more powerful and you can drop a zombie quickly with them. Also, you can have up to three characters in your party at certain parts of the game. To either change your character, switch weapons, or use an item, press Select to open your inventory, and press B to tag in a fresh face, and press A to either change your weapon, or heal yourself with a herb. But be warned; the action won’t pause during this. Once you kill the enemy, you shift back to the exploration mode.
When you first start the game, Barry is armed with only a handgun and a knife, and along the way, as well as finding both Leon and Lucia, you can also pick up powerful weapons such as the shotgun, machine gun, rocket launcher, etc.
The general pace of this game is extremely slow and monotonous, as there are only up to three zombies (or one big-ass Tyrant) on screen at once in combat mode, and they’re all really hard to hit when they’re far away, and hard to miss when they’re really close. Finally, the save system for Gaiden is determined by checkpoints depending on whether you unlock an important door, or defeat a Tyrant.
The graphics in the game are crap, to say the least. While the animations for the characters in exploration mode are silky-smooth, the zombies are even more uglier in combat mode. The character portraits and cutscenes are pretty much a mixed bag, as Barry is drawn in a cartoon style, while Leon and Lucia are both drawn in a realistic style.
As for the music, you get about six tunes, and they loop over and over constantly, and get old pretty fast. Now, I understand that there are limitations with the GBC’s sound capabilites, but I can’t think of one tune I remember from Gaiden. But I can hum different tunes from RE1, 2, 3, Code: Veronica, 0, 4, 5, 6, the Chronicles titles, shit, even Resident Evil: Survivor and Resident Evil: Dead Aim. But not Gaiden! Its soundtrack is totally lackluster.
Now, an RPG which plays like the classic Resident Evil games sounds like a good idea on paper, the execution was not so great. You’ll find as you’re playing this game, while the controls in the exploration mode are OK, the controls in the combat mode are just a little too stiff, and as far as the puzzles go, all you really do is look for keys for unlocking doors in order to solve them.
On the bright side, Gaiden stays true to the same level of difficulty that all Resident Evil games are well known for, as you have to save ammo and herbs when going up against the bigger monsters. So once you know how to beat the game, you can do it in just one day.
Finally, we know that in all the other RE games, after you’ve completed them the first time around, you usually get some goodies in return, like alternate costumes, special weapons, or extra modes, giving you plenty of replay value. But unfortunately, you won’t find any of those after you’ve beaten Gaiden, which strips it of any replayability whatsoever! Like I said earlier, once you beat the game, there’s really no reason to ever play it again.
What’s really sad about this game, is that to my knowledge, aside from Gaiden, the only other games that M4 Limited ever developed were Tazmanian Devil: Munching Madness, Jeremy McGrath Supercross 2000, Mary-Kate & Ashley: Winners Circle, and Antz World Sportz for the GBC, and Mission: Impossible: Operation Surma for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance, which really doesn’t surprise me because around the time of its release, RE Gaiden was not that well-received. Not to mention the fact that shortly after the Mission Impossible GBA game came out, M4 Limited went bankrupt.
So even if you’re a fan of Resident Evil, I’d still say give this one a miss. Resident Evil Gaiden gets a rotten 2.5 Zombie Parts out of 10.
Now, the next RE game on the way is Resident Evil: Revelations 2 (which will feature Claire Redfield, the younger sister of BSAA Captain Chris Redfield, fighting monsters alongside Barry’s oldest daughter Moira), which will be out on PS3, Microsoft Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC, due out in early 2015, and I’ll be looking forward to that.
Anyway, that’s it from me, The Deepthroat Ghoul, and until next time, boils and ghouls, I’m gonna go help myself to a Jill sandwich. And remember: if the suspense doesn’t kill you… something else will!