The arrival of the Resident Evil series on the 3DS is the bearer of two gifts: an anticipated return to the series' exploration roots by way of Resident Evil Revelations, and online cooperative action in spin-off title Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D. Two titles offering two different zombie-related experiences, but both will also push the technical specs of the handheld console in ways we haven't yet seen from other 3DS titles.
Both upcoming Resident Evil games will use a portable version of Capcom's MT Framework version 2 and producer Masachika Kawata spoke to Eurogamer about what the development team has been able to accomplish:
We're very proud of what we've been able to achieve with the hardware... In our opinion it looks pretty impressive. It's getting to the point where the line between the portable systems and home systems is blurred.
Based on the mini-game portion of Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5 of the same name, the reason why The Mercenaries 3D looks as impressive as it does is partly to do with the game being able to utilise some of the assets that were developed for the home consoles:
When the engine team got the specs for the 3DS they asked, "Can we make MT Framework move on this thing?"... They laid the groundwork and got everything moving to the point where we were using some of the same assets from our home console games - and they were working on the 3DS... After they laid the groundwork we got the Mercenaries team on there, and they went wild with seeing how far we could go in making the game look great on the 3DS... We're very proud of how far we've come with it. It was definitely a big challenge.
As great as both Resident Evil titles already look, Kawata reveals that the 3DS hasn't been pushed to its limits yet and hints that Revelations and/or other titles will look even more impressive than The Mercenaries 3D:
We definitely are not using the full power of the 3DS or our engine at this point... The engine team, their initial orders were to get it working specifically for Mercenaries... If we're talking about a different kind of title that has a different focus – maybe there needs to be more emphasis on graphics – we have every confidence we can implement that in the Framework and also on 3DS... You will see even better things coming out on the platform.
We don't have a hard time swallowing that at all. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D launches in Japan on 2nd June with releases in other territories expected shortly afterwards.