[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.]
Back in the early 2000's Capcom signed a deal with Nintendo, making the main series Resident Evil games exclusive to their platforms. While it was not a deal that lasted long, much to Shinji Mikami's disappointment, there were some games that still haven't left the Nintendo brand since their original release. The first one being Resident Evil Zero, the prequel to 1996's original zombie shooter. Built from the ground up for... Nintendo 64?
The game starts out on the Ecliptic Express, a inter-city luxurious train that mysteriously had stopped in the middle of the Arklay Mountains. Rebecca Chambers, rookie medic for the Special Tactics and Rescue Service find escaped convict Billy Coen on board, only she doesn't know he's an escaped convict in the Nintendo 64 released, something that would be revealed over the course of the game. Early in the game Edward Dewey would jump in through the window missing his right hand, this was because of his hand being found in the intro to the original game, confirming he had survived without it.
Like I mentioned earlier, the game existed in concept very early on, first considered to be a CD-ROM title for 64DD with the possibility of a cartridge game only slightly considered upon. Later on the 64DD was confirmed to use unique optical discs and the decision for a cartridge game became definite as Capcom felt it could be done if built from the ground up. In January 1999 the game was officially announced, with a presentation of the Ecliptic Express being shown at E3 the same year. The feature of switching between Rebecca and Billy was something Capcom hyped up, due to the game being on a cartridge rather than a disc, it required no loading times between these segments, a impressive feature for the time.
To help hype up the release of Zero, Factor 5 teamed up with Capcom and Angel Studios to port Resident Evil 2 to Nintendo 64, with a budget of 1 million dollars and a time-span of 12 months, the circa. 20 employees working on the port was a masterpiece, adding new in-game documents that linked directly to Zero and a bunch of other cool new stuff making it the biggest version of Resident Evil 2 yet being the smallest in size, it was an amazing project and the reason I'm staying on it for so long will be evident in a little bit.
But keep this in mind, 20 guys took a (circa) 1,2GB sized game and managed to compress it down to 64MB yet still managing to add enough new content to make it a bigger and better version of the game. That is an amazing feat, which brings us to...
What Happened To It?
The game was cancelled not due to quality issues like the previous games we've talked about, but rather because of size. Capcom could not size down the game any more without breaking their own budget, in the end, relying on the concept of a game made for the Nintendo 64 cartridge failed. Yet Resident Evil 2, one of the biggest Resident Evil games with FMV's, great visuals and audio managed to be ported to one cartridge while still adding more content. Guess that budget was reeeeeaaaally maxed out, because that sounds pretty inconsistent to me.
However, upon the announcement of the Gamecube and the contract done with Nintendo, the game was set to be rebuilt for Nintendo's new console. I'm not sure how that didn't blow the budget through the roof, but I'll let that slide since I don't know the specifics. Interestingly enough, the Ecliptic Express remains unchanged from the Nintendo 64 game to the Gamecube title, while there's obvious visual differences due to hardware, the layout of the train remained intact and the items stayed in their original place. This was because this part of the game was entirely finished when Zero 64 was cancelled, so rather than redoing everything from scratch they updated what they had for the final game.
As for what else stayed the same, it's hard to tell. Areas outside Ecliptic was never shown and most of the changes made in the final game was minor, such as Edward not losing his hand. We know there's an enemy called D.A.L.I. that was scrapped along with Rebecca's STARS beret. Interestingly enough, the beret stayed on in a early version of the Gamecube game, don't believe me? Here's proof.
Where Is It Now?
No one knows. I'm realize it's not the most exciting thing to hear, but there's been nothing leaked from the game since the official videos and a existing build is entirely unheard of. I mentioned in the comments from the last post that this might be the game I'd like to play the most. I love the final version of Zero, but there's something interesting about the unreleased game, it would have been the last game made in the same style of graphics as the original Resident Evil, and there's something special about that to me.
It would also have been cool to have seen a exclusive survival horror game for the Nintendo 64, something that just doesn't exist for that console. What's even more interesting about it is that it wasn't the only Nintendo 64 game to get cancelled and made for the Gamecube instead. Eternal Darkness being another prime example that I might talk about at some point.
So who knows, we might see the game pop up at some point, but as for now, no one knows.
*There exist more footage, but it's very bad quality camera-shot E3 previews, easy to find if you wish to see them but I decided on not including them in the video.
Thanks for reading, I'd suggest following me on Twitter at @SirTobbii to get more direct updates on future entries in The Lost Resident Evil, I do my best to keep it weekly however. And next week? Well, next week we'll start off with white-haired demon hunters, because we'll dig our teeth into Resident Evil 4's various prototypes.