Can you survive An Unholy Return: The 31 Games of Halloween?
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Resident Evil Reviewed by Adam Wallace on . Rating: 85%
Resident Evil
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I'm not going to beat around the bush; the Playstation royally kicked the Saturn's ass. Thanks to one of the most royally botched launches in video game history, third-party developers fled the Sega Saturn in record time. There were a few who stuck around, and one of the most prolific was Capcom. Their 2D fighting games were doing well on the Saturn (better than on the PS1); so, they felt safe answering Saturn fans' demands to bring their landmark horror game Resident Evil to the Saturn. While it doesn't match up to the Director's Cut that hit the Playstation the same year, it's still one of the best games on the Saturn.

Everyone knows the plot of the original Resident Evil by now. After a string of cannibalistic murders in the woods near Raccoon City, a Special Forces police unit is sent to investigate. They get chased by blood-thirsty dobermans into a secluded mansion where the residents got turned into zombies due to a lab accident. The story is short (about 3-4 hours), but replay is encouraged for bonus goodies. The big exclusive to the Saturn version is the Battle Mode where you have to blast through a series of random locations from the main game with limited ammo as fast as possible for a spot on a Leaderboard. It's a neat little diversion but not a major selling point.

Resident Evil (Saturn)Click For the Full Picture Archive

The gameplay is still fantastic even now. While tank-controls have a bad rap now, the original Resident Evil shows how they can be done right. The camera angles used are excellent, allowing the atmosphere to creep in while making the game easy to play. Fair warning that some of the perks present in Director's Cut like auto-aiming and easy swapping for bazooka rounds are not in this one (just like they weren't in the PS1 original). As such, the game gets pretty tough. Chris and Jill are not well-balanced. Even though she can't take the punishment Chris can, Jill's game is still much easier due to a larger inventory, fewer enemies, and stronger weapons. The puzzles are rather simple, and some of them feel extraneous. However, everything comes together to make an adventure that's a joy to get through.

While the aesthetics and technicals do take a hit in the downgrade to the Saturn, they still work wonderfully. In a side-by-side comparison, I found the visuals both better AND worse than the PS1 original. While the textures on the 3D characters and objects are much muddier, the 2D backdrops are much sharper and better-looking. The blood effects look more fake than the PS1 version but still work. The music is a bit muted, but it's still better than the remixed score of the Director's Cut. The load times are only a second or two longer; one would hardly notice. Both versions still have absolutely peerless atmosphere; the Spencer Estate is still one of the most chilling environments in video game history. The sound design is still awesome; even the laughably terrible translation and voice acting still bring a smile to my face.

The original Resident Evil is one of my favorite games of all time, and the version on the Saturn is almost as good as the Playstation original. While the remake on the GameCube is fantastic, too, I find I just enjoy the original a bit more. It has its issues due to weaker hardware and older design, but it still provides the perfect chills for Halloween. Pick it up; the mansion awaits.
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