It was one thing for N64 owners to get a port of Resident Evil 2, with FMV included. It was an entirely other thing-- an entirely wonderful other thing-- to hear N64 would be getting its own, exclusive, original episode in the series.
Up until now, many details of the game have been sketchy at best. Yet now Nintendojo has some information that will be able to remove the veil of secrecy a little further.
concept - Resident Evil 0, easy to assume, is a prequel to the Resident Evil franchise. Some gamers may have been surprised that this exclusive episode in the series actually had a number attached to its name. Dreamcast's Code Veronica, for instance, did not. It was even reported previously in some publications that Resident Evil's creator only intended for Playstation to get the numerically titled sequels. We at Nintendojo were therefore not surprised to learn from a Capcom spokesperson that RE:0 was originally rumored to be entitled RE: Conspiracy.
At any rate, the game itself stars Rebecca Chambers, the smart young girl from the ill-fated Bravo Team, which Alpha Team is sent to rescue in RE:1. Up to now, the only screenshots of the game show Rebecca running around in a demolished train, and meeting up with a burly man in a tank top and jeans.
Seeing this, many online and print publications went so far as to proclaim the entire game is set on a train. This is not the case. Speaking with a Capcom representative, he assured us that the train was only the very beginning of the game, and Rebecca would actually exit it, and go on not only to the mansion in RE:1, but before reaching there she would travel through the infamous Racoon City.
gameplay - At E3, the train was the only playable area in the game, and as the game is only about 10% complete, it was still a little buggy. For instance, I was having a great time running through the boxcars and killing the zombies, until I ran out of bullets. I ran for my life, and stumbled upon-- not surprisingly-- a butcher knife in a small, closeted area. I tried to pick up the knife-- and tried again-- and tried again-- and even though my inventory screen was telling me I picked it up, it remained on the table, and out of my hands. I knew it was hopeless by that point, so I promptly ran into the arms of a hungry zombie and ended the game.
For the curious, the train isn't moving in this opening level-- it has crashed. Therefore, zombies are lurking outside the windows of the train as well as "playing dead" in the seats.
Control and inventory in this game will be nothing revolutionary for the RE series. If gamers have played previous RE games, they won't have a problem picking this up and playing it. Newcomers may be put off by the awkward movement of the characters using the control stick, though. Nintendojo was informed that a few control features implemented in later RE games may also be included in RE0, but the Capcom representative couldn't say exactly what.
Perhaps the most noteworthy difference in this RE as compared to other RE episodes is that, according to the Capcom rep, the player should be able to switch real time, at any time, between Rebecca and her male companion she meets on the train. Previous RE chapters have allowed the player to change what character he or she controls, but this opportunity only occured at scripted events the player had no control over. Now, the player will be the one to decide when to play as Rebecca, and when play as the other guy.
The team developing RE0 still hasn't nailed down the details of this switching (and this is assuming the real-time switching stays in tact during the development of the remaining 90% of the game)-- currently, one of two options are being considered. Either you switch from one character to the other, and the inactive character just stays in place, or, after switching, the other character will follow you around, RPG-style.
Lastly, we didn't get any more information on the lack of the notorious item boxes in this game, but we also didn't see any of them in the train, either.
graphics - The train itself was full of beautifully rendered, highly detailed graphics. Even the zombies appeared more detailed and colorful than before. Overall, expect the same quality as in RE2.
Of course, a really big question on many diehard RE fans' minds is whether or not FMV will be included in this game. Would Capcom bother to make high quality FMVs for an exclusive N64 game, especially when the cinemas couldn't be kept at original quality due to compression requirements?
You bet your 512 megabit cart they will. It was only the second question asked of the Capcom rep, and we were excited to hear that Capcom's high quality FMVs (and b-movie quality voice acting) would "of course" be included in RE0.
sound - Unfortunately, our details on sound are sketchy at best for this game. For one thing, the sound level of the environment we played the game in was not conducive to hearing the game-- let alone anything at all-- clearly. At this point, we will feel safe to expect typical RE ambient-style music and sound effects, as well as the superior voice acting (wink wink) known in all Capcom RE games.
outlook - We may have been saturated with the concept and thrill of "prequels" thanks to Star Wars: Episode I, but this prequel still seems to be something really worthwhile and exciting. If any more news breaks on this game, Nintendojo will be here to tell you.
-- Noah Ward
03.08.00 - All you crazed, zombie slaying sadists better pay attention to the following information. A game is coming which will sate your hunger for violence. That's right, the N64 is finally getting another disgusting, frag-filled game of death. Resident Evil Zero is on the way!
As anyone with a brain is aware, the last Resident Evil for the N64 was a port of the Playstation incarnation. It was one of the big hits of 1999. Still, it left the Nintendo gamers itching for more undead splatter action. In a bold move, Capcom has responded with a 64 exclusive RE game.
Resident Evil Zero will take place prior to the events of the original Playstation classic. Hence the Zero. The main character in the game is Rebecca Chambers, of RE1 fame. She played a part in the destruction of the first zombie outbreak. In the prequel, she's the star of the show. Along the way, you'll also take control of a few other characters. Through Rebecca's quest, RE Zero hopes to shine some light on the origins of the nefarious Umbrella Corporation.
In developing the game, Capcom is sticking with their usual methods. Find a system that works and exploit it. Not a bad idea, given the immense popularity of the RE series. Expect the graphics and sounds to resemble the 64 version of RE2. Furthermore, the amazing atmosphere and intricately detailed plotlines of RE Zero's predecessors will be making a return appearance. Oh yeah, and the over-the-top killing and maiming of zombified creatures will be back in style as well.
In terms of innovation, the item system is getting a long-needed overhaul. The demise of the hated item box is at hand. As a result, the backtracking nature of the gameplay may be revised. In addition, RE0 will reportedly be the most difficult game of the series. Toss in a few new monsters, and you've got one heck of a product.
In all, Resident Evil Zero should be high on the wanted list of any N64 gamer. The bloody, gore-filled N64 exclusive will be quite a treat. We owe Capcom a big hand for finally supporting the Nintendo 64. The release date of RE Zero is uncertain, but expect it to land on U.S shores by the end of the year.
-- Bryan Melville
word on the street
press release notes