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The Countdown Horror Obscura – Day 6: Resident Evil Gaiden

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Day 6: Resident Evil Gaiden

Resident Evil Gaiden is very much the misunderstood step child of the Resident Evil series. Capcom likes to put it in the corner along with its other B-list Resident Evil titles like Operation Raccoon City and Mercenaries 3D and pretend they just don’t really exist. Unfortunately like a lot of Capcoms other industry mistakes some of us can’t forget the past. I for one feel Resident Evil Gaiden is a portable title that though flawed, brings a unique take on the series formula with incredibly restricted hardware.

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So stop me if you haven’t heard this one from the Resident Evil series: you play as a anti-Umbrella agent who intercepts a passenger ship on the sea and soon finds it has been overrun by monsters. Well before the series copied its own idea literally twice in Dead Aim and Revelations, Gaiden was the game that some would consider the genesis of Resident Evil’s small obsession with campaigns on a boat. The agent you play is the greatest character from the series Barry Burton. Except now you finally get to play as this beard faced hunk of manliness. I am aware he’s also recently and finally been allowed to have his own campaign in Revelations 2 but Resident Evil Gaiden was for the longest time the only way for Burton fans to get their fix of the man with the best one liners in the series history. Anyway, back to the game. Barry is basically on the ship to find Leon Kennedy but along the way he comes across a young girl who seems to be the only survivor of this horror as well as a B.O.W who has the ability to morph into human form. One of the main reasons I think Gaiden is absolutely fantastic and I wish this was an actual cannon to the Resident Evil story is because of how it ends. If you really don’t want a pinnacle part of the plot to be spoiled for you then I advise you to skip the following paragraph because I’m about to explain the ending.

reg_2During the campaign you are constantly being attacked by this B.O.W. (Bio Organic Weapon) monster which as I mentioned has the unique ability to morph into real people. One of the few ways to detect the creature is to check for signs of green blood. At the end of the game Barry Burton swallows down a turkey sandwich (probably) before rocket launching this B.O.W back to the Stone Age. Then he takes the little girl and Leon Kennedy to the rescue boat and they all escape and live happily ever after. So your lead to believe. However, the final screen in the game is Leon Kennedy with a dumb grin on his face bleeding green blood. So basically this implied Leon is totally dead and the Leon that we have been playing as in all future games so thats 4 and 6 is actually this B.O.W and not the character we think.

Of course Capcom doesn’t want to take crazy risks like this with the plot so this ending is not considered cannon. This is a dam shame as it would be a a pretty awesome twist that would certainly surprise people that missed out on this portable title. Before someone makes the remark at me of “but its a portable game for the Game Boy Color, of course it won’t be considered cannon to the series.”  I think Metroid 2 would like a little word with you.

reg_1Anyway lets talk about the actual game. If you read my article on The Immortal (Obscura Horror Day 4) then Resident Evil Gaiden will feel quite familiar to that gameplay style. Playing mostly from the top down prospective, you’re able to see the zombies on the map as they approach you, ever so slowly with the groaning noise you’ll be familiar with from the Playstation titles. If you get close you will be forced into battle mode which is where a lot of people loose interest in this game. It’s hard as balls for starters you’re trying to watch a moving slider at the bottom of the screen, which you have to stop at the right point to do damage to the zombie or other monster. Remember those crappy arcade games with that digital slide you need to stop in the right spot to get a prize. Well if you master Resident Evil Gaiden you may want to consider finding those machines out because you sir/madam will be an absolute master after completing this title. Even though its difficult there is one redeeming quality to this system if you think about it from a horror game perspective, you want to actually avoid conflict as much as possible and run rather than attack. Of course this game does have its fair share of compulsory encounters but it kinda feels like the developers were going for something quite tense, that or it just seemed to happen that way by accident for them. Either way it comes across as a unique idea for a portable system.

With this being a Game Boy Color game the horror imagery is certainly lacking, the 8 bit kinda looks more cute than anything, but the game does impress more in the battle mode where the sprites are blown up to a much larger and detailed scale. The Zombies actually look pretty grotesque despite the limited palette and its kinda jarring watching them gradually lumber towards you to give you a zombie love bite.  This is not a game I advise for general Resident Evil fans. But if you love your portable titles and want to explore a really unique take on the hardware then you can’t go wrong with checking out Resident Evil Gaiden. All we need now is Barry Burton to finally get his own standalone title.

The Verdict: The experimental flavour of sandwich you haven’t tried before.

Written by jamalais

October 28, 2015 at 3:00 pm

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