Following whispers last week that the next numbered Resident Evil game was in the works, further rumours surfaced over the weekend of an incoming remake of Resident Evil 4, a game originally developed as a GameCube exclusive as part of the fabled 'Capcom 5'.
Of course, RE4 wouldn't remain a Nintendo exclusive for long. A PlayStation 2 port released just 9 months after its January 2005 GameCube debut. The game represented a pivot for the zombie franchise away from survival horror towards survival action, and it had a lasting influence on over-the-shoulder third-person shooters for years to come. It's a masterpiece that has since appeared on most every platform, including Nintendo's. The Wii Edition added optional (and excellent) pointer controls, and last year Capcom brought it to Switch along with several other series entries.
A lick of paint is arguably all RE4 needs
With the success (on other platforms) of the remade version of Resident Evil 2 and the recent (less well-received) Resident Evil 3, RE4 is the next numerical entry on this production line of REmakes, but is it the most logical next step?
Resident Evil Code: Veronica and Resident Evil Zero, for example, would arguably benefit more from the remake treatment, and presumably it's only a matter of time before Capcom revisits the original game (again). It would make for an entirely different experience to the tense tank controls of the PlayStation classic, but REmake 2 proved that the developer can craft a fresh and engaging modern take on hallowed, vintage material. If Capcom wants to redo its entire back catalogue and produce games of RE2's quality, we'll play each and every one.
The thing is, RE4 still plays brilliantly. As noted in our review of the Switch release, the base experience may take some getting used to control-wise, but after you've stopped pushing the right-stick and trying to play it as a dual-stick shooter, it's the same brilliantly tense and atmospheric action game it ever was, even if it's showing its age from a visual perspective. Where the original 'tank' controlled games might be tougher to return to these days (especially if you weren't there at the beginning), RE4 holds up. With a little more effort on Capcom's part (specifically with regards to improving textures and adding gyro controls - something the company did patch in to the Switch versions of RE5 and RE6), last year's re-release could have been the ultimate version.
A lick of paint is arguably all RE4 needs; a 'REm4ster' over a 'REm4ke', if you will. Capcom is all or nothing, it seems. The company has form with bare-bones ports (the GameCube versions of RE2 and 3, for example), and it's not shy about charging top dollar for them. But then it really pushes the boat out with games like the original REmake (again on GameCube) or the recent reimaginings of 2 and 3.
on the evidence of brilliant Switch ports from other studios, we refuse to believe that [bringing these remakes to Switch] isn't possible
Which brings us to the elephant in the room: Will we ever see these remakes on Switch? Despite a flurry of Resident Evil releases, the remakes of 2 and 3 aren't available on Nintendo's console. Indeed, the second and third numbered entries are the only mainline games not available in any form on Switch (if we count the Japan-only streaming version of Resident Evil VII: Biohazard).
Granted, bringing those technically taxing games to Switch would be a challenge, but on the evidence of brilliant Switch ports from other studios, we refuse to believe that it isn't possible. There are currently no plans to bring them to Nintendo's console, though. Capcom is making a choice here, and it's a confounding one to the millions of Switch gamers who would jump at the chance to play these remakes.
When it comes to RE4 specifically, the old "if it ain't broke..." adage springs to mind, but given Capcom's approach to remaking these games, we find ourselves torn. For example, if the rumours of Nintendo remastering a selection of 3D Marios on Switch for the plumber's 35th anniversary are true, how would we feel if Super Mario 64 were to be 'remade' rather than 'remastered'? A cheeky up-rez would certainly be welcome, but anything beyond the subtlest tweaks to gameplay would be instantly noticed by players who have played and replayed the game to death. At what point should a classic game be left alone?
Offering an 'alternate' version for a new audience appears to have worked well for Capcom, especially for old-school games built with outmoded mechanics or controls which nowadays may turn some players off. Things get much murkier when the original game is still arguably as accessible and brilliant as it ever was, though. Part of us wants Resident Evil 4 to be lavished with the very best treatment. As an all-time favourite of so many, it certainly deserves it and you don't need to be a genius to understand why the IP owners would choose to update such a celebrated title ahead of games more desperately in need of a ground-up retooling. That's not to say that there aren't elements of RE4 that could do with a nip here and a tuck there, but a full-on reimagining feels superfluous in a way that 2 and 3 didn't.
Do you think Resident Evil 4 needs a remake? Would you play it if Capcom decided to make a Switch port? Feel free to let us know by answering out poll below.
Thanks for voting. Let us know your thoughts and feelings on these remakes and their continued absence on Switch below, and feel free to cram as many superfluous 'RE's into your comments as possible.