Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Retro Review Tuesday: Resident Evil Gaiden Gameboy Color

This is our first review for a handheld game/system.

Many Resident Evil fans aren't even aware this title exists due to what seems like a large miscalculation by Capcom. It's a mature rated Gameboy color game based on a wickedly popular series of games that debuted on the Playstation. Many players old enough to appreciate blood, gore, and some good ol' fashioned zombie shooting fun weren't toting around GBCs. However, for those of us who were familiar with both we were rewarded a unique perspective on the Resident Evil franchise.


Controls are simple. A is your action button use it to pick up items, select them in your inventory and shoot your gun. B aims your gun on the normal play screen or switch characters in the fight and inventory screens. Starts shows your map and select shows your inventory. The D pad moves you around. Controls are pretty responsive, but when a zombie is after you they slow down quite a bit.

Graphics are a mix of good and so-so. The basic play screen has rather fluid sprites, but they're undetailed and the backgrounds leave something to be desired. In the fight screens the backgrounds are much more detailed and the Zombies are rendered quite well and have a lot of detail. They don't move a lot, but they're zombies, they don't have to. The cutscenes vary wildly.Your characters are highly unattractive pixel blobs in most of them, but other times they're incredibly detailed and good looking for the format. There seemed to be no graphics quality control on this game.

It's SUPPOSED to be Barry but I'm not sure this isn't red haired Ernest Hemmingway

Soundwise this is a great GBC game. The music is pretty complex and there's quite a bit of variation including changing tempo depending on whether or not you're in danger. There's also several themes you'll hear depending on where you are and what you're doing and all of them manage to be perfectly fitting. The main theme can get a little bit annoying because you hear it all the time, but it really does a good job of making you feel on edge, no small feat for an old school hand held game. The other sounds are good for what little of them you hear, there's the sound of zombies, the sound of your death and the sound of finding an item, that's it.

This game has enough items to warrant a basic items list here. The things you'll pretty much always have in your inventory are:

Thank goodness the knife has infinite ammunition

Key items you haven't used yet, you'll need to go into the screen to use these when you're in the right location, just having a key in inventory won't open the door for you.
Your PDA it gives your current mission objective helpful if you were distracted during a cutscene or came back to playing after it's been awhile.
Guns and ammo self explanatory. Only one character can use a certain gun at a time. If Leon is holding a gun and you want Barry to have you'll have to do a bit of finagling to make it happen, it's best to get that done before entering a battle you can do it during but it will get you mangled most of the time. Also, you can not pick up ammo for a gun you're not carrying. Apparently your character thinks to themselves, Well I'm sure I'll never find this gun no need to pick up the ammo even though I've got space for it. So try to make mental notes as you will often have to backtrack to get really nice ammo.
Herbs Like all Resident Evil games you find herbs to heal yourself there are 5 different types in this game, but you don't mix them this time, how you receive them is how you use them, predictably there's a manual on the ground with how to use them so I'm not going to describe that.
Armor  New to this game, there are 3 types to find with varying levels of protection. As soon as you get nice armor you're going to want to put it on, it helps more than you could possibly imagine.


You start off as Barry, who you may remember from such situations as: constantly saving The Master of Unlocking and having some things to check out on the other side of the mansion (RE1). In any case Barry is sent to try to figure out what happened to Leon. Leon, who you may remember from such incidents as: His first day at the Racoon City Police Department(RE2), was dispatched to a distressed luxury cruiser over 24 hours ago and hasn't been heard from. So with this in mind Barry gets down to the boat. Things start off as you'd expect in a resident evil. Ho hum I'm exploring, then, OH MY GOD IT'S A ZOMBIE HORDE!

Luckily zombies rarely get embarrassed when they show up in the same outfit.
The members of the undead army come in varying flavors as well, normal male, normal female, poisonous female, crowbar male and BOW. Each of these has their own special style of attempting to get at the delicious innards of your skull, learn them, and you'll be a lot happier.

Where are zombies getting all these crowbars?

Your first instinct is probably going to be to take the zombies out. You can either aim at one, which will ensure it's too far away to give you a good swipe if you enter attack mode, or let one get too close which will cause it to be directly in front of you (unless you struggle enough to push them back). In either case, instead of fighting on your normal screen, you enter a battle screen where you have to time your hits with the cursor. The cursor moves faster or slower depending on how nice of a gun you have and the "hit zone" get smaller the further away from the zombie you are. So while a zombie right in front of you with a hand gun will be fairly easy, trying to hit one from across the room with a grenade launcher is quite a feat of timing. Making matters worse is that other zombies that are on the screen can show up leaving you battling multiples. Fighting this way is a lot less scary than just being jumped at, but it's also a lot harder. You can't just twitch shoot your way through it, you've got to have a bit of strategy.

If you're familiar with the Resident Evil series you know that there's no way you can take out all the zombies. The most reasonable course of action is to try to avoid them. It's worth noting that sometimes you want to meet the zombies head on even if you can avoid them, if a red exclamation point pops up it means the zombie nearest you has an item (occasionally it's a key item, but usually it's just ammo or herbs). Unfortunately, you won't know if it's important or not until you take it down. When you do want to run though it's not easy. For some reason when a zombie has you in it's sights, it's tell tale groan gives our hero pause so you slow WAY down making it an awfully hard to do so. Additionally it's very easy to get stuck on door frames or random debris and when that happens after you're slowed you're pretty much screwed. If you get stuck in the fight screen you can hit start and escape the battle. However, before you can escape you'll have to hit the strike zone dead on. Meanwhile the zombie gets closer much faster and you can't hit it because you're running away. Often this is a more dangerous proposition than just fighting the zombie in the first place. Unless you're cornered by multiple zombies, you're probably safer knifing one than you are running from it.

This deck is a lawsuit just waiting to happen.

Running from zombies both on screen and in the fight screen is the most annoying thing about this game and given that it is impossible to take out all the zombies (even if you knife the majority of the normal ones like I do) it's very easy for this aspect to make you hate playing the game. I enjoy a challenge, but the slowdown, poor collision in tight spots and the sheer numbers of zombies make it kind of ridiculous.

Exclusive screenshot of the Boxxle zombie add-on

Managing to cheat death, Barry eventually locates a survivor on the ship using a surveillance computer. Thee survivor is a young girl with strange powers of prediction named Lucia who helps lead him to Leon. Lucia is a much more useful character than most you'd find under these sort of circumstances as you can actually equip her with items and use her in a pinch. Of course before you can actually make use of this you've got to meet up with her which means a lot of opening of locked doors that have keys (or items you can use to open them) located in the most inconvenient places possible. Given the limited graphics of the game, the items do not show up on the ground directly. You can be in a room full of items and you won't know right away, you'll have to root around for your loot. Basically you'll blindly run around until you hear a noise and see a little green exclamation point letting you know there's an item to pick up. This can be annoying enough for just the time consuming aspect, but worse is that it means tangling with an awful lot of zombies on your quest to see whether or not all the nooks, crannies and corners have items in them. Hooray for unavoidable zombies!

Given all the hordes you'll be taking down, even if you become the zombie avoidance master, you're probably going to see the "you died" screen quite often. Luckily the good folks at Capcom aren't completely heartless so you can either start from the last save(which is a spot determined by key points in the games and could be a long ways away from where you are now) or from where you last came through a door or killed a zombie. I can not express how wonderful this second option is, I'm fairly certain that it kept me from smashing the Gameboy into tiny bits several times.

Just in case all the zombie killing and death dodging wasn't exciting enough for you, once you unite your team members (all three of you) you will be given the wondrous honor of being hounded by huge zombie, they'll refer to as the BOW. This zombie seems determined to not only obliterate your sparse STARS team but to kidnap Lucia. He's stronger and faster than your standard zombies and has a tentacled stomach, giving him much longer reach. Which all means you'll die twice as fast (you'll even get a special "you died" screen when he kills you, fancy right?) If that's not annoying enough on it's own, it's one of your mission objectives to eliminate it. The joy in this game just never stops! But wait! That's not all! The mega Zombie runs away rather than being defeated, so he just keeps coming back and every time you meet him he mutates, changing just enough to be a bigger uglier pain in your butt.

He really ought to get that checked out
So of course you need some plot to hold together the story or really the game would have been over in roughly 20 minutes once you have both Lucia and Leon in your party. We can't have that so we need a plot device or two. So imagine you're Leon. Being plagued by zombie problems and having the survivor you're trying to protect kidnapped by a huge ugly zombie is pretty much ruining your day. But you can you depend on your partner to help you out in these troubling times, right? Nope, instead you get some of Barry's , I just have to check something out, antics, thickening the plot. However, after a series of confused and muddled events that involve Umbrella, a submarine and more zombies, Barry comes out looking just fine (again).He even manages to avoid telling Leon he was almost a sandwich and that alone makes him a better partner this time around.

I guess I WON'T take this time to consider my proposal for waffles as the ultimate in home building materials then
Basically add a few more details to the thin to plot to hold it together and that's the entire game. Kill zombies, avoid zombies, attempt to kill super zombie, avoid getting your brains eaten and unravel some inane and implausible plot. It's a zombie game, you shouldn't be expecting too much more than that, and it's actually more fun than it sounds. It's worth mentioning, the final boss battle(s) in this game are very long and arduous, you've really got to earn that victory and really hope you've saved enough ammo. It 's honestly something you're likely to have to attempt several times if you don't get annoyed and swear off the game before then.


People either really like this game or absolutely despise it. I have to give the creators credit for trying something new and making a pretty decent original game for a hand held. The storyline is
crap, but really all of the RE games that came about between 2 and 4 had some pretty questionable and incoherent storylines as well and I don't see as much outcry with those. Besides someone must of liked it because Capcom basically remade this game with an even more ridiculous story and added light gun, calling it dead aim. Overall I think that RE fans might be a little disappointed in this one as while it has characters you're familiar with but it doesn't fit into the main storyline, isn't considered canon and basically becomes a "let us never speak of this again" chapter. But in my opinions as a gamer looking for a unique old school zombie experience this is a good solid game.


 Don't forget to stop by our shop for retro gaming collectibles:

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails