Every Resident Evil game is weird. No, hear me out! I mean that in a good way! Resident Evil games generally revolve around a well dressed person (or group of well dressed people) showing up to a dank, dimly lit location and sauntering around its hallways to eat plants, open doors with animal eyeballs, and bang on typewriters while a collective of living corpses and mutated animal monsters try to kill them. That’s all very weird. Fun as hell, but very, very weird. Especially when you write it all out like that.
That said, sometimes the plots of Resident Evil games aren’t nearly as weird as the systems they are ported to. Resident Evil games generally rely on cutting edge graphics and cinematic aspirations to deliver their spooky, survival horror visions, so bringing those games over to less impressive hardware has a tendency to dramatically shift things a bit. So let’s take a look at four very weird – and occasionally really cool – Resident Evil games that you probably forgot existed.
Resident Evil 4 on Zeebo – 2009
Resident Evil 4 was the franchise’s first true leap into full-on over-the-top action game/survival horror hybrid. The new take on the classic formula was so well-received that it has been ported to pretty much every video game console you’ve ever heard of – including an upcoming Nintendo Switch port coming this year. But in 2009, Resident Evil 4 was also ported to a video game system you’ve never heard of – the Zeebo – an internet-connected game console targeted at the Brazilian and Mexican game markets. It’s essentially the same game that was ported to iPhone and Android mobile devices with a few key differences: it was played with a controller and not a touch screen, and the Ganados (AKA the villager enemies in the game) are all inexplicably colored blue. Yes, blue. Blue infected Spanish farmers that want you dead.
The mobile versions of the game ditch the mostly interconnected game world in favor of a level-based system that essentially acts as a hyper-focused chapter select version of Resident Evil 4 with extremely stripped down graphics, which make the game feel like a PC port running on the lowest settings. Resident Evil 4 mobile is already fascinating enough for cutting so many corners from its console counterpart, but on the Zeebo (and again, that is a real console that we didn’t make up) most of the enemies looking like angry squashed versions of the Na’Vi from Avatar make this one of the weirdest and funniest ways to play Resident Evil 4 – assuming you can track down a Zeebo. Which again, is an actual, real thing that exists. Seriously.
Resident Evil 2 on Tiger Game.Com – 1998
If you were playing video games in the ‘80s’ and ‘90s, you might remember the name Tiger Electronics, a gaming and toy company whose entire business model was taking popular console games, movies, and characters and turning them into cheap, standalone LCD handhelds, usually with hilarious and frustrating results. Tiger Electronics games were definitely more fun than staring at the sunroof during a family road trip, but once Nintendo launched the GameBoy, they basically had no reason to exist. But in 1997, Tiger swung for the fences one last time by launching their own dedicated cartridge-based handheld – the Tiger Game.Com – and the world was… entirely not having it. It was a clunky, odd system with very few games and very few reasons to exist.
However, in some ways, the Tiger Game.Com actually beat Nintendo’s future handhelds to the punch by being the first portable gaming system with a touch screen and stylus. It also connected to “THE INTERNET” or whatever the internet looked like back then on a fuzzy, pixelated screen plugged directly into a dial-up modem, which is the opposite of portability. That said, the Tiger Game.Com was certainly ambitious for being so limited and late to the party. So ambitious that it received its own completely rebuilt port of Resident Evil 2, recreated entirely in black and white pixel art and incredibly choppy animation, which makes it pretty scary but for the wrong reasons. This port is even more stripped down than that, though, since it’s also missing large chunks of the core game, like Claire Redfield’s entire story campaign. Either way, it’s really fascinating that this game even exists at all. The gorgeous and painstakingly detailed new Resident Evil 2 remake is on next-gen consoles this year, but don’t forget that this completely opposite version of Resident Evil 2 exists as well.
Resident Evil Gaiden on Game Boy Color – 2001
Capcom did eventually ship a completed Resident Evil game to the GBC in Resident Evil Gaiden, which once again uses pixel art and sprites to attempt to recreate the classic Resident Evil formula, this time from a top-down perspective. However, this one is even weirder, somehow, since it’s an entirely original game and a story starring iconic Resident Evil hero Leon S. Kennedy and not a demake of an existing Resident Evil game. The entire game takes place on a derelict passenger ship riddled with zombies (sixteen years before Resident Evil 7 used a similar setting in the game’s back half) and Leon is tasked with finding keys, exploring creepy corridors, and ultimately escaping to safety.
But the strangest thing about this game is the combat, which switches from a top-down perspective to a first person one when you touch a bad guy. A sliding reticle appears and swings back and forth as zombies lurch towards you and bite and gnash at the screen until you’re dead. Line up shots properly and you can fire back with your limited ammo or slash at them with knives. It basically feels like a bizarre Resident Evil themed Wario Ware mini-game and it weirdly keeps the series’ charm and fear factor intact on the tiny Game Boy Color screen.
See? Every Resident Evil game is weird, but some of them are really weird! What’s the weirdest Resident Evil game you’ve played? Let us know in the comments below. And when you’re playing the new Resident Evil 2 remake this year, think about some of the strange side steps the series took to get there. Then think about how they probably had to make those side steps with tank controls, which is even stranger.