Over the years, long-time Resident Evil fans have seen a variety of retellings and reduxes. Although gamers got a pure numerical sequel earlier this year with Resident Evil 5, the revamps keep on coming, especially on Wii. Witness Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles, a sequel to 2007's Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles. Since that on-rails shooter covered the scope of both Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine's horrific misadventures all the way up to the events of Resident Evil 3, The Darkside Chronicles aims its scope on one of the franchise's other important characters, Claire Redfield.
During my hands-on demo today, I got to jump into a chapter from 2000's Resident Evil: Code Veronica, redone as a House of the Dead-style shooter. Earlier in the day, Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Amie cited The Darkside Chronicles as part of Nintendo's "harder-edged" lineup. It certainly isn't as family-friendly as, say, New Super Mario Bros. Wii, but it's certainly not a game that feels tailor-made to appeal to long-time Resident Evil fans.
In a sense, that's okay. Call it odd, but this could be the easiest way to get a non-gamer (significant others, parents) interested in Resident Evil's decade-old canon. Are you an ardent RE fan who's got a girlfriend who likes watching you play RE4 but doesn't dig aiming, moving and shooting? Are you a fangirl who's trying to convince your parents why destroying the T-Virus is important work? Sic 'em on this.
It doesn't hurt that The Darkside Chronicles offers up co-op play, which seems to be unlocked from the beginning, unlike The Umbrella Chronicles. In my case, I chose Claire, while my partner picked Steve Burnside. Playing with a friend is as simple as shooting your way through any of the classic House of the Dead games, and it's hard to shake the thought that the on-rails RE shooters are essentially smarter variations on Sega's classic horror series.
The European prison locale looked like the same familiar terrain I shot my way through on Dreamcast nearly a decade ago. Unlike that title, I never felt the same sense of palpable dread that I did in Capcom's original, a game that was stingy on the bullets. Instead, The Darkside Chronicles offers up ammo, ammo, and more ammo. That's great for players who would never make it through a half-hour of the lean, spartan Code Veronica. Again, it's a game that feels designed to reward you for blasting through waves and waves of virus-infected undead. Hence, it's a great game to pass along to someone who would never put up with classic Resident Evil's fussy handling.
How do I know that it works for non-RE fans? I played alongside someone who doesn't play shooters at all. She prefers role-playing games and titles that don't require lightning fast reflexes. Although I found The Darkside Chronicles' rollercoaster-like setup to be a tad simplistic, she immediately dove into the action and really enjoyed blasting away at zombies. It seems to be a game that's undoubtedly M-rated, but seems geared toward the same sort of demographic that Nintendo so feverishly covets.
If you've been playing the series since the PlayStation era, you'll undoubtedly like this shooter more than forgettable lightgun entries like RE Survivor or RE Dead Aim, but don't go in expecting much more than a refresher course on the plots of RE2 and Code Veronica. On the other hand, if you have a gaming dabbler in your life who needs a remedial course in blasting tentacled mutants, Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles might be a welcome addition to your library.