Resident Evil Zero was the inaugural original fruit from Capcom and Nintendo’s menage (in a purely platonic sense, there was no inappropriate fondling and such involved. None that the press was present to witness, at any rate) in the fledgling stages of the Gamecube era. This deal (perhaps galvanized by Mr. Nintendo brandishing a firearm at the groin of Mr. Capcom’s next of kin, though I can’t confirm this) accrued re-releases of Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil Nemesis for the console, and the much-vaunted wonderment of REmake.
In 2002, Zero surfaced on Nintendo’s rather camp purple box-o-fun (one should never, as the company learned to their eternal chagrin, employ Elton John in the design department). It is a series prequel, precursor to the shooting a giant mutated plant in its big ol’ mutated plant face shenanigans in the Spencer Mansion.
Heed a tale, my friends, of fur-free monkey demons, Umbrella chicanery, Rebecca Chambers’ heroism/sensible hairstyle, and MANY, MANY LEECHES. Serendipity finds our dual-protagonists, the aforementioned Mrs. STARS and Billy Coen, meeting on a stricken train. Whereupon, a ghastly crapstorm unfolds 24 hours prior to the outbreak in Raccoon City. From The WHERE IN THE NAME OF SATAN’S SWEATY CROTCH DID THESE ZOMBIES COME FROM Express, -as I believe the train was named- you’ll traverse one of Umbrella’s ubiquitous underground laboratories, shooting the groins of innumerable mutated monstrosities as you do so. As ardent Evil-ers will attest, then, it’s standard series fare.
Indeed, it’s a bastion of retro-Evil sensibilities. This was the final digital dalliance to feature the static camera angles/stunted aiming of yore. It also implemented a newly-fashioned ‘partner-zapping’ system whereby you switch between controlling Rebecca and Billy. There is, as such, ACTUAL WITCHCRAFT in the controls of Resident Evil Zero. Your partner’s feeble A.I mind gives them the capacity to fight off any assailants that encroach upon the area they’re in, but switching shenanigans are paramount beyond this. The mechanic is also utilised to create a range of infernal, backtrack-tastic puzzles that’ll make you want to punch your own brain in the face. Again, but par for the Evil course.
While there’s a stubborn miasma of ‘afterthought’ permeating this release like a musty smell, franchise fanatics embraced it. It’s a deft fit into series lore (convoluted and preposterous as said ‘lore’ may be) and addresses certain vagaries from the Nineties. Most pertinently, though, it’s a wonderful addition to the franchise, and remains quite a coup for Nintendo, from whom it has yet to stray.