[Note: This is not my blog post. This blog was written by community member Karutomaru, whose account is currently undergoing difficulties.]
In recent years, there has been very little in Nintendo gaming to get hyped over. With most companies being unambitious and/or half-assing their games (Ubisoft), and the ones that ARENíT forgetting to advertise them, itís difficult to jump up and down with excitement expecting a new high-quality release. 2009 was probably the year with the most hype in this generation, with the releases of a number of hotly anticipated Wii games, two of which I bought as soon as I could. The first was the heavily marketed best game on the Wii, Madworld, and the second: Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, the sequel to 2007ís Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles was one of the first Wii games I ever got for my birthday. I wasnít as big a Resident Evil fan as I turned into, having only played Resident Evil 4 before that, and since I read that Umbrella Chronicles was a retelling of 3 Resident Evil games and it filled a gap in the timeline, I figured Iíd get caught up on the storyline and have a fun rail shooter at the same time. The end product was a fun, albeit flawed game. My Umbrella Chronicles save file is clocked at over 100 hours, and I keep going back to it, so thereís no way in hell you can say it was disappointing for me. My problem was, based off of what I had seen online of the original games, it wasnít anywhere near as good as it could or should have been.
For one thing, almost everything was reused from previous games in the series, with Resident Evil 3ís portion taking assets from the Resident Evil Outbreak games on the PS2, and cutting out the entire subplot with Umbrellasí special agent Nikolai Gionvaef. The Resident Evil 0 section took out the subplot with Wesker, Birkin, and the young form of the main antagonist that kept popping up, and the original Resident Evil section omitted Barry and took out the subplot with Lisa Trevor (for Chris and Jill, anyway). Even more disappointing was the exclusion of Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica, which are considered 2 of the best games in the series.
There wasnít a whole lot of originality or scares either. There were only 3 new monsters made exclusively for the game, the music was off-putting, and the graphics lacked the atmosphere and detail the original gamesí had. It was fun overall, and certainly had enough redeeming values to let it stand on its own, but there was an unsettling number of things Capcom seemed to have dropped the ball on, and it left me wanting more.
"There's a bee on your nose... Don't move."
After playing Umbrella Chronicles for a few dozen hours, I started my usual wishful thinking about what an improved sequel to it could be like. I imagined it would cover the two games Umbrella Chronicles forgot without abridging them quite so much, didnít reuse assets from other last generation games, pushed the Wiiís graphical capabilities, and finally let me shoot Gís grotesque red eyeball at point blank range. A couple of years later, Capcom, being the excellent customer-serving company that they are, seemed to answer my thoughts when they announced Darkside Chronicles in 2009.
You gonna eat that?
The first time I heard about Darkside Chronicles was in Nintendo Power, when they simply announced that the then-untitled game was a sequel to Umbrella Chronicles with scenarios that covered Resident Evil 2, Code Veronica, and an original story with Leon in South America. Most people would probably want to know more before getting excited, but that was all that was needed to convince me to want that game.
You see, to fill in the gap left by Umbrella Chronicles, I bought a copy of Resident Evil 2 and Code Veronica X (both of which I happened to come across). While they were great games that stood the test of time, their jagged, blocky graphics couldnít hold a candle to anything today. I was hyped to see how great they could both look with a fresh coat of modern-day graphics paint. I figured it would look much like Umbrella Chronicles, which had nice new models for the gravedigger and Nemesis, but when I saw the first few screenshots, I was blown away.
One of them.
In a Nintendo Power preview, the gameís producer said they had created the best looking game on the Wii. And my audible reaction was ďDamn right you did!Ē It was astonishing. The textures, the lighting, and the character models were all flawless. It was leaps and bounds better than how Umbrella Chronicles looked, and Leonís Resident Evil 4 look was being used, as though this was the definitive way to experience the story consistently with the rest of the Resident Evil series in the modern day. But by far the best part was getting to see some of the classic monsters that now actually looked as scary as their designs meant for them to look. Compare how drastically upgraded these old Resident Evil enemies look with Darkside Chroniclesí revamped models.
But the eye candy and nostalgia was only the beginning. Through various online sources and a Nintendo Power preview that came later, I learned about the alternate costumes, details on the new story that gave a history between Leon and Krauser, and the new soundtracks consisting of re-recordings of the old games and some new ones.
In addition to that, the preview videos online let me see the game in motion for the first time, and, while the facial animations outside the pre-rendered scenes (which are the greatest I have ever seen) were robotic vertical lip movement, everything else was just as great as I imagined it. Headshots blew off upper jaws with visceral explosions of blood, the area lit up with every pistol shot, and the sound combined with the graphics and shaky camera made it creepy and unsettling, as Resident Evil should be.
This was a game I HAD to own, and I was in luck. The game came out on November 17, 5 days before my birthday. Regretfully, I didnít pre-order it and missed out on the kickass pre-order bonus because I had some hopes someone would get it for me. They didnít, so I rushed out to get it myself afterwards, I made a huge dent in someoneís van backing out of the driveway, my soul cracked, I cried for hours, and I didnít try to go to the store to get it until hours later. The accident and the purchase of the game are two things that burn that day into my mind.
So, after months of anticipation, all that pain, and all my high expectations, did the final product please me?
Everything I wanted in Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles was there. The plentiful gorgeous pre-rendered cutscenes, the in-game graphics that looked almost as great, the voice acting from Resident Evil 4ís actors, a better voice actor for Steve, the destructible environments, and an original story far better than its predecessorís. Each story was longer and more detailed, and there were even more bonuses than advertized. In addition to the two costume sets I saw before, there was a set of Leon and Krauserís RE4 outfits, and my favorite, Leon and Krauserís Hawaiian shirts with sunglasses and wristwatches. In addition, several features absent from Umbrella Chronicles were present, including audio recording files, a cutscene viewer, and a character model viewer for staring in admiration at the level of detail they all possess.
The back of his jacket says "Axe Monster". I wonder why.
It wasnít perfect, of course. No matter how good a game is, Iíll always find something to complain about unless itís Viewtiful Joe. I think they cut too much out of the Code Veronicaís story, and, though there were far more original monster designs than Umbrella Chronicles, I felt it could have used a few more. None of these complaints made the game any less of a blast, of course.
Darkside Chronicles got the honor of being the very first game I ever reviewed on Destructoid, where I gave it a 9 out of 10, and continue to reference it whenever I talk about how good a Wii game can look and feel with enough time, money, and effort.
Also the crocodile's top half doesn't blow off like in the original, but now I'm just nitpicking.
From my observation, it seems the most popular blogs are the ones that are introspective or tragic; something I expect to see from other entries in the current Bloggers Wanted. I just know there are going to be blog posts about how someone got hyped for a game, only to find out that the advertising lied to them or mislead them, and they were left disappointed. That is not the case here. Capcom hyped up Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles as one of the best games on the Wii that any Resident Evil fan could love to death, and that is exactly what they delivered.