“Hey, shouldn’t Resident Evil be on this list?” Well…

#4: Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles

So, here’s the thing: you’d probably never figure it out without me telling you, but I am a bit of a Resident Evil fan. The thing is, while I’ve always been a fan of the story and the characters, the gameplay? Not so much. It’s one of those games that’s more fun for me to watch than to play, though for only a while even then, thanks to the relatively slow pace involved (not that I mind a slower-paced game, but things are different between watching and playing).

Enter the Chronicles installments in the Resident Evil franchise. Capcom introduced Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles for Wii in 2007, basically recapping the events of Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil, and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis — basically, the Chris Redfield/Jill Valentine “S.T.A.R.S.” stories — as an on-rails shooter. They even threw in a little added material regarding the fall of Umbrella, a point that disappointed fans when it was addressed in Resident Evil 4 with little more than a past-tense text crawl after the corporation’s end had been so heavily hyped.

But for me, personally, I’ve always favored the other side of the Resident Evil coin: Leon S. Kennedy and Claire Redfield, who have had their own journeys beginning in Resident Evil 2. Enter 2009’s Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, which follows the events of that game and Resident Evil: Code Veronica, but not Resident Evil 4, because that game was already released on the Wii and Capcom would clearly rather you buy that as well. In its place is “Operation Javier,” a new scenario featuring all-new content serving as a prequel to Resident Evil 4, pairing Leon with who would later become his ex-partner, Jack Krauser. I’d hoped they would adapt the movie Resident Evil: Degeneration as well, but alas.

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As I said, while survival-horror gameplay has never been quite my bag, the opposite holds true for light gun games (though this isn’t technically a “light gun,” technicalities be damned). From Duck Hunt and Hogan’s Alley to Lethal Enforcers and Terminator 2: The Arcade Game to SEGA’s arcade version of The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Virtua Cop (with Yoshi’s Safari and Super Scope 6 somewhere in-between), I love myself a good light gun game, so pairing the characters and storylines of Resident Evil with a style of gameplay I enjoy? You know I was all over that.

Events are revised a little bit from the original games to allow for co-op gameplay, but not so much as to tremendously alter the greater narrative. Meanwhile, the quality of the graphics have been raised to a new level by a higher level of technology than was available when the games it draws from were first released, and it’s accompanied by perfectly eerie, haunting music. It’s admittedly less of a thinking person’s game and more action-oriented, but that’s okay in my book, as it allows more people to experience the world of Resident Evil than might have been possible if they’d just stuck to the one formula.

I feel like zombies are a little bit overdone these days, but Resident Evil is something of an exception in my book — perhaps because it predates the craze. And while I’m not precisely sure how many of the weird biomutations found throughout the series technically qualify as zombies, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles is nonetheless one of the first places I’m likely to turn to bust some zombie heads.

Incidentally, if you’d like to get an inkling of what the experience is like for yourself, Capcom still has the official website up, complete with an in-browser mouse-driven “light” version of some of each scenario’s earlier events.

David Oxford is a freelance writer of many varied interests. If you’re interested in hiring him, please drop him a line at david.oxford (at) nyteworks.net.

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