There are few series that carry the honor of popularizing a whole genre the way Resident Evil does. Although Alone in the Dark set many of the benchmarks for the survival horror genre, Resident Evil was the game that brought the genre into the mainstream. Even though the franchise has been milked like crazy the same way that Capcom milks all of their successful brands, the games are still some of the most enjoyable slices of terror you can find in gaming. One would think that Resident Evil's style would be impossible to put on the lowly Game Boy Color, but Capcom tried anyway with Resident Evil Gaiden. This one isn't just a shambling corpse, but it isn't the Tyrant, either.
The story takes place after the events of Resident Evil 2 and 3. Barry Burton from the first game and Leon Kennedy from the second game join forces to find a new type of Bio-Weapon developed by the series' villains the Umbrella Corporation that is rumored to be hidden on a cruise ship. Along the way, they come into contact with a young girl that can apparently sense the monster and has to be protected. The story easily fits into established lore even though it isn't officially canon. The twists and turns I expected from the series were present and accounted for. While not the best plot the series had, it still held my interest. Fair warning, this game does NOT explain things for newcomers to the series; if you don't understand anything I wrote in this paragraph, don't bother with this game.
Since the style and mechanics of the Playstation games couldn't work on any of the portables available at the time (see the Game.Com version of Resident Evil 2 for proof of that), Capcom went with something entirely different. The exploration takes place in an overhead isometric view that makes navigation a breeze. When you engage in combat with the undead hordes, the game switches to a first-person view with a moving targeting cursor. The method works, but the cursor moves too fast; expect to waste plenty of the scarce ammo.
The visuals are quite impressive for the 8-bit Game Boy Color. The characters and monsters are highly detailed, but the animations are very hit-and-miss. Animation is very fluid during the top-down parts but becomes very jerky during the shooting segments; I endured plenty of cheap hits during those parts. The puzzles in the proper games were never on the same level as Myst, but they got very lazy in Gaiden, devolving into simple find-the-key monotony. Finally, the save function is crap. The save points are very few and far between which is unacceptable for a game where death can happen so easily.
Resident Evil Gaiden was probably the best the series could do on portables at the time, but it definitely showed that the series should've waited for the PSP. It is playable and looks good by the Game Boy Color's standards, but it got aggravating way too frequently. If you desperately need to blast zombies on the go, you could do worse. Otherwise, just put a bullet in this one's head and move on.