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Feature: Staff Memories of the Resident Evil Series

Posted by Nintendo Life Staff

Remembering the horror

This week we've been celebrating the Resident Evil franchise, a series of games that has set the benchmark for survival horror and is perfect for this spookiest of months. Before we move onto our next Halloween horrors, some of the Nintendo Life team have cast their minds back to their experiences with Resident Evil titles and what's made them memorable.

Reminiscing on moments of gaming terror may not be good for us, but these games are worth it.

Philip J Reed

As a born and raised Nintendo fan, I missed out on a lot of great games on other consoles. Very rarely, though, was I genuinely jealous of my Sega, Xbox and PlayStation friends. That's rarely...not never. The one game that truly turned me green with envy (and terror) was the original Resident Evil.

Resident Evil's ropey dialogue, inane situations and downright terrible acting didn't detract from the experience; if anything, it made it more authentic

I remember playing it at a friend's house, and going home later still feeling shaken by its creepy bizarreness. I wanted that game, but had to wait until the GameCube edition to play it again, alone, in the dark, as it was truly meant to be experienced.

Resident Evil, when I jealously watched a friend play it, reminded me of Castlevania, Nintendo's closest classic equivalent. Castlevania was similar in many ways, such as its uncommonly grotesque enemies, its unrelentingly bleak atmosphere and, most directly, its loving homage to the horror films that have come before. But whereas Castlevania paid tribute to the 1930s and 40s Hollywood portrayals of classic monsters, Resident Evil paid tribute to the low-budget, high-bodycount gorefests of the 1970s and 80s. Castlevania was Dracula, and Resident Evil was the Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

And, true to its source material, Resident Evil's ropey dialogue, inane situations and downright terrible acting didn't detract from the experience; if anything, it made it more authentic. (In my opinion, the more "seriously" the series takes itself, the more difficult it is to enjoy. We don't want elaborate backstories and corporate malfeasance...we want buckets of blood pouring out of people's heads.)

Finally playing it on the GameCube so many years later, I remembered more than I expected to. The graphics and voice acting were updated, but the former was still passively chilling and the latter was still deliciously bad. The mansion was expanded, but in a very organic way that meant I didn't always know what was new to this edition. I still don't want to know; the expansion was seamless.

But one thing really stood out to me, and still haunts me to this day: Lisa Trevor.

Many of the changes to the GameCube version were good, but Lisa Trevor was tragic, brutal, and profoundly sad. Scraps of diaries fill in her backstory, and everything they communicate to the player is sad enough. But nothing can prepare you for the encounter.

Whereas many monsters are less frightening once you encounter them, Lisa Trevor escapes that trap by being more sad than scary. Hands bound together, filthy clothes, a physical form that feels pain but can never die, Lisa Trevor is a little girl turned a monster. She is something non-threatening turned into a beast. She is the ordinary turned inside out by a nightmarish, cruel, and unrelenting world of misery. She is, in a sense, horror at its most pure.

The danger she presents to you as a player is only one aspect of her as an enemy, because no matter how you may jump when she appears, or how you may struggle to get away, or how glad you may be to finally be rid of her, it will never escape your mind that she was once a child, a child without any concept of the danger around her, and is now a beast, bound and brutal, unable to make sense of her own situation, and driven mad with loneliness.

Lisa Trevor wasn't an expansion...she was a distillation of everything about the original Resident Evil that worked. She may be defeated, but she'll never be forgotten. She's just as frightening in death as she ever was in life.

And that, my friends, is how real horror works.

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User Comments (21)

CorbsAdmin

#1

Corbs said:

I tried the original Resident Evil and just didn't like it. Never played another one after that.

That being said, nice Phil, way to work 'distillation' into the piece. :D

baba_944

#2

baba_944 said:

@Corbs me too but now I am getting it for the PC. Hopefully it plays like it's Console Counterpart! And happy Halloween!

NeoShinobi

#3

NeoShinobi said:

RE2 was my first experience with the series, and it was also likely the first M-rated I ever played, I think I was about 10 at the time.

I remember all my friends talking about how freaky the game was, and here I was playing it thinking "ha, this isn't so bad".
And then I had my first encounter with the Lickers and, well... yeah.

Those b******* still creep me out.

Supremeist

#4

Supremeist said:

I've had so many memories playing through the RE5 Campaign with my friend. Lol, and playing The Mercenaries. Other than that, not much.

Ristar42

#5

Ristar42 said:

Ha, first time I played the first was rental from blockbuster too. I knew almost nothing about the game and had just bought a Saturn. The opening seems cheesy now, but looked so cool then.

I remember playing as Chris and meeting the first Zombie - scary stuff! RE2 impressed me too, but the later games never really matched those initial impressions.

Tasuki

#7

Tasuki said:

I played the first one and second one years ago on Playstation and they were ok. What really made me a fan of the series was RE 4 Wii Edition. If you have never played this game or werent a fan of the RE series you should at least check out this one on the Wii.

TheGreenSpiny

#9

TheGreenSpiny said:

Man, the REmake was fantastic game. By far the scariest gaming experience I've ever had. I never realized just how awesome that game was until I played the original game on the DS and that managed to scare me. Capcom was brilliant in how they remixed the REmake for people who had played the original version.

@Chris Ingram: Not sure what you mean by control limitations. The Wii edition play exactly the same except for the pointer controls. (Don't get me wrong the pointer controls are 10x more accurate, but still...

@Phil Reed: I loved your analysis of Lisa Trevor, probably the most horrific part of that game (or at least the Trevor family in general. Poor George!) I loved her boss fights in the Umbrella Chronicals. The way she regenerates her health super fast makes her impossible to kill if you run out of ammo. Wesker's snide comments about her were brilliant too.

Popyman

#10

Popyman said:

I wish there were more Silent Hill games on Nintendo consoles so you guys would talk about that series. :(

Slapshot

#11

Slapshot said:

@TheDarkness The control limitations that I was referring to, is mainly the issue of not being able to move when you go into ADS (Aim Down the Sights) mode. While it is indeed still featured in RE4: Wii Edition, the quick cursor speed and accuracy with the Wiimote alleviated my frustrations I had with the Gamecube version, as you could take down the zombies much faster than when pushing an analogue stick and lining up the shot - which is also the reason that circle strafing is so prevalent in console shooters. :)

SPEtheridge

#14

SPEtheridge said:

Ah all these RE look backs have got me going back through the games love this series, highlights for me are defo the shark tank in RE and the lake in RE4 oh and the cabin in the woods in RE when Lisa enters

warioswoods

#15

warioswoods said:

I'll say this: zombies used to be much more frightening, before this lame obsession with them exploded over the past few years. Often seeing just a single Zombie in the REmake could be a harrowing experience... much like the Lisa Trevor bit that Chicken so eloquently explains above.

Now, pop culture is horribly over-saturated with zombie themes, and they've become little more than fodder for gross brutality and gore. I'd like for the whole zombie-apocalypse fantasy to just go away for a while; it has become tired, boring, and more a matter of mindless violence than fear.

Zach

#16

Zach said:

@vonseux It's October. This is Resident Evil week. Next week is Castlevania week. This has nothing to do with advertising.

Ren

#18

Ren said:

Just started playing the veronica X thing on ps2 and I've never played that one. It feels great to have the old tank controls back and the sound design scares when zombies sneak up. I wish there was a little more of that in RE4; it's a great game but it really doesn't scare like the old style ones do.
So what's the occasion for all the RE stuff? Halloween? I thought the next one isn't out for months yet.

TheGreenSpiny

#19

TheGreenSpiny said:

@11 Slapshot: I think you missed the point here. This is not a shooter, it's survival-horror. The whole point is push your panic buttons by testing your fight or flight response. That's the reason you can't run and shoot in RE games. Take that away and you end up with a pretty generic shooter.

Rawk_Hawk

#21

Rawk_Hawk said:

I remeber the first time I played Resident Evil on the Sega Saturn. I never played anything like it before. Everything about the mansion was so haunting including the ticking clock in the dining hall. This game has always been about atmoshphere.

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