In 2002, Capcom released two Resident Evil titles to the GameCube. There was a complete remake of the very first which was originally released in 1996, and a prequel, latched with a 0 to signify where exactly it fit into the overall story – right at the very beginning of the saga. Both titles later got ported, separately, to the Wii.
As a result, Resident Evil 0 and the 1 remake have been Nintendo exclusives for over 14 years. Now though, finally, they’re available on modern consoles in one complete package, as the Resident Evil Origins Collection.
If you’ve ever wondered what Resident Evil used to be like, before it became the action fest it is today, there is no better place to look than this collection. It encompasses the original essence of the franchise, albeit in a shinier, modern day packaging. How does it fare though, nearly a decade and a half later?
Resident Evil 0
Out of the two, Resident Evil 0 is definitely the weaker game. It can’t be missed though, at least not by die-hard fans who wish to know the very origins of Umbrella. For newcomers, some of the game’s mechanics are unfortunately outdated and cumbersome, and as a result, elements of horror are replaced with pure frustration instead.
Apart from telling the story from the very beginning, Resident Evil 0 also gave birth to the very first form of Resident Evil co-op that has been prevalent in all of its more recent games. No, a player can’t grab a real life buddy to help dispose of enemies. Instead, they have two characters to utilize together – Rebecca Chambers and Billy Coen – only one of which can be controlled properly at any given time.
Billy is the more hardy of the two, and is capable of receiving significantly more damage before going down. He can also push heavy objects around, which is pretty important skill when it comes to solving many of the puzzles that exist in the game. Rebecca on the other hand, is a lot more squishy. She is a medic though, and does possess the ability to mix herbs for health. This is an important skill, especially considering that there are all manner of nasty enemies looking to rip the two apart… quite literally.
Controlling both Billy and Rebecca is fairly straight forward. Whichever is not currently in possession by the player can be ordered to follow or stay. They can also be told to be passive or aggressive. I often opted for the latter, because I’m that guy that needs to make every single last bullet count, so I hate seeing any go to waste. I managed the entire game like this, bar one or two encounters where I had to give my AI partner the go ahead to let loose, lest we both turn into undead dinner.
The game forces the two to separate on occasion. Doing so on purpose is usually a bad idea; not because fighting enemies alone is a bad idea or anything mind you, but because inventory space is severely limited. I honestly don’t know what Capcom were thinking when they removed the storage chest from Resident Evil 0. I guess their reasoning is that with double the characters comes twice the inventory slots. On paper this makes sense, and then I remember wanting to carry around the likes of a shotgun and grenade launcher, both of which take up two slots, and I have memories of pure anger and all thoughts of logic go straight out the window.
Solving puzzles in Resident Evil (both 0 and 1) usually entails finding a key item, carrying it to another point, using it to grab another key item, and so on. Usually, there are a lot of key items at play, and the inability to carry most of them in favour of decent firepower results in a game that is more irritating than fun, and more infuriating than terrifying. Yes, I understand that players must decide between a gun or an item, which creates tension. With the lack of a chest though, much time in Resident Evil 0 is spent running back to where an item was left, and back again to use it, and back again to grab whatever was left behind, and back again to… you get the idea, don’t you? It’s very, very frustrating!
I’m not carrying a single key item in this screenshot and I’m almost out of space already
Resident Evil 1
Resident Evil 0 certainly has moments of horror to it. It does not compare though, not in the slightest, to that of the brand new Resident Evil 1. This. This is what a remake should be!
Launched 6 years after the original, Resident Evil 1 rebuilt everything from the ground up. Sure, there was the same old creepy Spencer Mansion to explore, but it was nothing like what fans had ever seen. It was given a shiny coat of paint, a bunch of extra locations (and shuffling of others), and new gameplay mechanics. It feels so familiar, but so very different at the same time.
Players can choose to play as Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine – two characters that are prevalent throughout the franchise. Resident Evil 1 marks where their adventure first began.
There’s no forced AI co-op rubbish here thankfully. Whoever you choose to play as will be the only character you control. You will be very alone in this eerie mansion… for the most part anyways.It’s worth noting that Jill and Chris aren’t just a male and female skin for the romp through the creaky building. No, their games play out quite differently to each other, which warrants multiple playthroughs.
The lighting, shadows, and camera angles in Resident Evil 1 offer much more tension
Jill is the weaker of the two. She comes equipped with a lockpick, giving her access to extra rooms. She also has 8 inventory slots, making traipsing about that little bit less stressful as she can carry more items. Chris is definitely the more difficult character to play. Though he is more durable, he does only have 6 spots in his backpack. This makes playing him a little more frustrating, as regardless of whether a player decides to pack in more firepower or not, there is very little inventory to work with in the first place.
Thankfully, there is none of this dropping items nonsense in favour of making more room (though I do partially wish this was possible in Resident Evil 1). The chest is in this game, giving players somewhere to store all their items.
These items can be accessed at other chests around the mansion, mostly eliminating the need to run back and forth. Look, the way the chests and their infinite pockets and teleporting skills makes no sense whatsoever, but after playing 0, it’s a feature that I truly appreciate, and one I would never, ever remove.
It’s all classic Resident Evil at the end of the day
As annoying as I found Resident Evil 0 to be, I am still glad that I finally had the opportunity to play it. It’s packed with bad voice acting, a forgettable story, and some terribly outdated mechanics. What’s not to love?
That being said, as I’ve mentioned already, those playing this sort of game for the first time are almost guaranteed to hate it. The only reason I managed to stomach the cumbersome, forced co-op and horrendous inventory system in the first place is purely because I am a fan of the franchise, and it reminded me of those good old days in the 90s when I first played Resident Evil 1, 2 , and 3.
Resident Evil 0 looks good too, but not as good as 1
If you could only choose one of the two in this package, Resident Evil 1 is definitely your best bet. It’s honestly very difficult to believe that it came out before 0, especially considering that it is superior in many ways.
The tension in the Spencer Mansion is palpable. Each door entered left me holding my breathe in anticipation for what possible horror lay on the other side, and what I found most times, left me panicking and scrambling for survival. I had sweaty palms for a large portion of my playthrough. Not only that. Out of the two, Resident Evil 1 still looks good today. Yes, it has been given the ol’ HD spit and polish to fit in with modern visuals, but it looks just as good nowas it did back in 2002. Capcom are notorious for cashing in on ridiculous things, but Resident Evil 1? This is a “cash in” that I am truly grateful for!
Resident Evil 0 on the other hand just doesn’t seem to carry that same gravitas. It looks okay, but lacks the sort of detail that you’ll find in Resident Evil 1,
Resident Evil 0 will take around 9-12 hours to finish (depending on difficulty and on how sharp your eyes and wit are). Resident Evil 1 on a single play through, will take around the same amount of time, but there are two characters to play as, so it offers some extra value in that regard. As a package, there are dozens of hours of classic Resident Evil to enjoy in the Origins Collection. It’s not badly priced either, so there is some great value for money here.
I do genuinely think the whole experience will be a hit or miss depending on whether you are a fan of Resident Evil or not though. I was able to stomach the various annoyances of both, only because I’ve grown up with the franchise, and expected such issues. Those looking to experience the roots of Resident Evil for the very first time however, may find the overall experience more irritating than enjoyable.
Last Updated: February 10, 2016