Thursday, September 12

Resident Evil Gaiden Review

The version played for review: Gameboy Color
Available on: Gameboy Color
The price I paid: £9.99
Other Notes: N/A

Resident Evil Gaiden started its life as an attempt at porting the original Resident Evil game to Nintendo's Gameboy Color. After a very admiral port reached 90% completion it became clear to the dev team that even if it was possible it would never be enjoyable. The limited buttons, graphics, and power of the Gameboy simply made Resident Evil's classic gameplay too frustrating. So the project was scrapped and work started on a new concept. A Resident Evil game designed purposely for the Gameboy. The result is a rather unique and surprisingly fun experience that changes a lot of the classic era formula but manages to keep the same feel.

The story here is pretty basic and no longer considered canon but does manage to give us a “what-if” scenario that's enjoyable. Leon S Kennedy now works for an anti-Umbrella group along with Barry Burton. During his latest mission aboard a cruise ship known as the Starlight Leon has gone missing. Barry is sent in to find Leon and eliminate a new breed of shape-shifting Tyrant. This feels very similar to the plot of Revelations for the 3DS. Both take place on a ship, both have an agent attempting to rescue a missing friend, both feature the early days of a newly formed anti-BOW group and so on. After playing this I'm curious how much of Revelations' story is a knowing call back to Gaiden.

The gameplay is the most interesting part of Gaiden in my opinion. The game tries to recreate the feeling of Resident Evil 1 with a location that is slowly unlocked as you play, limited items, ammo, and saves. Gone are the save rooms, ink ribbons, universal chests, and diaries though. You have unlimited inventory which removes the need for saving rooms and universal chests. During 14 separate points, you will be able to save your progress. If you die then you will be able to start from the entrance of the room you're in meaning the difficulty always feels fair. The core of the game is still exploring your environment to find important items required for progression. If you enjoy classic era Resident Evil then you will enjoy this. The combat is the thing that feels the most different here as it's based around rhythm. Once you start a fight you will be taken to a screen showing the enemies above you and a small bar with a highlighted hitbox and a line moving back and forth across it. You need to fire when this line is as close to the center of the hitbox to attack the monster. If you manage to hit the dead middle then you will land a critical. These are often vital during boss fights or even just to preserve ammo.

Resident Evil Gaiden is a very interesting game. It changes so much of the standard Resident Evil gameplay but still manages to feel faithful to the series and era it came out in. That's not to say it's perfect though, because it does feel dated. Resident Evil 1-3 on the PS1 have aged well due to the prerendered backgrounds and 3D models. Gaiden, on the other hand, feels older despite being newer just because of the limited sound and graphics of the Gameboy Color. It's a great game for sure, and one I'm very happy I was able to play through, but unlike the PS1 titles, I don't think I'll be returning to this one. If you're a fan of the series and these early games or just interesting games in general then it's worth playing at least once. But it's not a timeless classic like other older games in the series.

Recommendation Rating: 6 out of 10

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