'Resident Evil Archives' - Review

The first Resident Evil has got to be one of the most-ported video game titles of all time.  It’s been on platforms ranging from the original Playstation to the PC to the Nintendo DS and even cell phones (both in its original version and in its incredibly polished Gamecube remake).  Given Capcom’s broad support for the Nintendo Wii, it was only a matter of time before they managed to squeeze a  little more blood out of the RE stone and port it to the little white box.

When the game was first announced, I will admit that I was excited.  Visions of a port with the still-gorgeous Gamecube graphics coupled with the silky-smooth motion controls of Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition danced in my head.  The reality of the situation, sadly, is only about half-true.

For those unfamiliar with the Gamecube remake of Resident Evil from a few years back, the basic goal was to take the survival-horror gameplay of the PS1 game and spruce it up to take advantage of Nintendo’s ten-powerful Gamecube hardware.  The backgrounds were still static, but the resolution was bumped up enough to make them virtually seamless with the new high-poly characters.  Maps were tweaked, and the script was given a spit and polish to make the game genuinely scary again.  Aside from a few questionable decisions, like the replacement of the once gloriously cheesy FMV with a newly rendered CGI chase scene, it was positively fantastic.  This, unlike Hollywood, is a remake done properly. Sticking completely to the spirit of the original, while updating just enough to make it relevant and fresh.

Despite being a port of a game from 2002(!), the graphics and sound of this update of Resident Evil still hold up quite well.  It may not have all of the fancy lighting effects or physics-based tweaks of its high-definition brethren, but the character models are still smooth and well-animated, and static backgrounds still manage to ooze dread out of every pixel.  This is a game that, presentation-wise, defies its seven-year age.

However, once you get past the timeless look and feel of the title, you hit a Nemesis-sized obstacle in your enjoyment.  Despite having a motion controller at their disposal, and having shown previously that they are very capable of using said motion controls, Capcom opted instead to only use the buttons on the Wiimote-Nunchuck combo for control.  At first, it may not seem that bizarre, until you realize that this combination doesn’t have as many control options as a traditional controller, which leads to what could very well be the most unwieldy controls I have ever experienced…had they not also included an even more absurd Wiimote-only style that is so completely mind-bogglingly stupid in its execution that it is virtually useless to the player.

Which leaves the player with only two genuinely functional methods of control, the Classic Controller or the Gamecube controller.  The Classic controller functions decently enough, making the game feel much more like a Playstation experience, although its tiny size is rather awkward in my gorilla-sized paws.  Plugging in the Gamecube controller is easily the best option, which leads to the ultimate problem that I have with this port. If I need to plug in a Gamecube controller in order to truly enjoy this port of a Gamecube game, why the hell wouldn’t I just stick with the Gamecube version?  Aside from the elimination of disc-swapping (the Gamecube version came on two tiny discs) and some slightly enhanced audio, there is absolutely no compelling reason to recommend the Wii “update” over its predecessor.