[The Lost Resident Evil is a new series of texts by me in which I tell you about the Resident Evil titles that never came to be. I hope you'll enjoy reading it and I hope I can keep focus long enough to keep writing it.]
The year is 1999 and all the talk around gaming town is about the Nintendo Game Boy Colour. Actually, most people were talking Metal Gear Solid, but stick with me here. Capcom was looking to bring their little survival horror gem to the handheld market, they had tried before with Resident Evil 2 on the Tiger Game.com, but noone played it and it got mostly bad reviews from the magazines at the time. But Capcom decided to give it another try and port the original PSX classic to Nintendo's little handheld and they came quite far in their little attempt.
The game started out like the original game, allowing you to pick your character of choice between Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield. From what I've gathered the opening sequence had not yet been finished for the title, instead the game started off immediatly with the main character entering Arklay Mansion. The cutscenes were identical to the original, but the pacing was slower, this was probably done on purpose to allow for the player to read the dialogue as there were no voice acting, something that could be considered an advantage to the original depending on who you're talking to.
Even though they serve no actual purpose outside of eerie atmosphere, the door loading-scenes from the original game remained intact. However, where as most doors swung open a set direction in the PSX title, the GBC's doors always opened up in a 2-frame motion, swinging away from the viewer. This was most likely done to save space, which as we'll learn later was necessary for the game and helped lead to it's cancellation. It's interesting that they would do this instead of skipping them altogether, but this also shows how true to every detail Capcom wanted this game to be the original.
The latest build we've seen had a very unintentionally funny sequence as Jill would enter the dining room, since the cutscenes were present we have Barry walking through the room saying "A Dining Room.", but since the room isn't finished there's no actual dining-table or anything indicating a dining room, so how Barry knew it was a dining room becomes a good question. However, on a more serious note, this showed how Capcom was developing the world of the game, building up the rooms pixel by pixel and placing objects in later, like you would with a 3D map creation tool.
Upon reaching the first zombie you get the classic zombie scene, unlike the intro it's finished and actually in the game. However, the zombie stands there ready to attack and we now get to deal with the combat system and the controls all-together. The tank-controls are not present in this version of the game, instead you manuever Jill or Chris with directional-controls like in Eternal Darkness or Project Zero/Fatal Frame, while this is a good control scheme in theory, it doesn't work well on a d-pad in a game designed for tank-controls.
The shooting mechanics work similliar to the original, but there's less focus on the aiming bit due to the restrictive controls. However, you still need to ready your weapon to fire. So in the end you get a version of Resident Evil that's even harder to play. Thankfully, there isn't much resistance. The zombies are present as enemies, although their death animation isn't finished at this point and they only fall down to their knees when killed, but every other enemy is missing from the game or can't attack. For example, Yawn, the big snake, is present where he should be, but he doesn't move or attack, so stealing his crest isn't much of a hassle.
Depending on how you look at it, Resident Evil on GBC is either a very ugly game or a very impressive game. The sprites are blocky and hold ver little detail, and the resizing when moving around is looking pretty horrid. But the fact that Capcom managed to stay so true to the original graphics is astounding and an achievement in downgrading a game. This practise was used again in 2001 when Infogrames had Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare released on Game Boy Colour, outside of combat the game is a very well-made port of the original Dreamcast title.
But where Resident Evil GBC was lacking the most was without a doubt the sound department. Music and effects are frankly terrible and listening to the game feels more like hearing an old computer freak out over there being too many keys pressed at once than it does listening to music. It's absolutely possible that this is because of the game still being in early development and unfinished, but it's all we have to go on.
What Happened To It?
Well the game was a mess in many ways. Capcom felt it didn't pass quality control and decided to end development after a few months. Another concern was that Capcom might have had to resort to cassette-swapping mid-game in order to fit everything on it, which would have been a first, but as for whether Capcom didn't want this or Nintendo didn't allow for it is unknown. But it begs the question as to why they kept so many minor details like the doors if space was a concern.
HotGen Studios (the developer) intended to add new stuff to the game, including new enemies, an easier save system and new traps that you'd be able to disarm. But none of these things were finished in either of the two builds we've seen of the game. IGN detailed the new save feature in September 1999, so by the time it was cancelled in March 2000 it's possible that it might have been implemented.
But Capcom wasn't finished exploring the possibilites of Resident Evil on GBC, they got M4 Ltd. to work on a new title called Resident Evil: Gaiden to fill in the hole that Resident Evil GBC left. However, that game has no connection to the actual prototype other than taking its place.
Where Is It Now?
The two known builds are in the hands of a collector, there is currently a fundraiser held over at AssemblerGames to get it dumped as a ROM for everyone to enjoy, the price is 20,000 Dollars, pretty cheap for two unique dumps actually. I realize it sounds weird for someone to be charging money for something like this, but think of it as an eBay auction, he's basically selling copies of something that's unique and unobtainable, the copies he has loses almost all the value it currently have and everyone gets a digital copy to play with.
There's a lot of footage already existing of the game that can be found on youtube, I've collected what I could fine into this video: LINK TO VIDEO
I also tried to fix the issues the original videos had with the sound through editing, so it's the most correct version available. But with the possibility of the game getting dumped to a ROM in Febuary, we might all get to see even more of it.
But wait! There's more!
Bonus: Resident Evil 2 on GBA (aka. Raylight Blueroses)
As a bonus I decided to throw in Raylight Studios port of Resident Evil 2 for Game Boy Advance. It was a tech demo that never evolved into an actual game even though it showed tremendous potential. It was released with various other tech-demos using Raylight's engine called "Blueroses" in 2003, there were two Resident Evil related ones, first one being the Resident Evil 2 port that I just talked about and the second being a scene starring Chris in a house
with some creepy blue tentacles
present in a hallway with zombies.
The reason I'm not making this an actual article and just a little bonus is because of it never leaving the concept of a tech demo. I do however highly recommend you take a look at the footage that was released, I've placed it all in a single video right here: LINK TO VIDEO
That's it for this The Lost Resident Evil, next time is Resident Evil 0 on Nintendo 64. That is a sweet one in my opinion. What did you think of this text? Would you have wanted Resident Evil GBC or was it best left dead?