As one of the longest-running video game franchises in history, Capcom’s Resident Evil has seen many highs and lows over the years. From the claustrophobia of the Spencer Mansion to the twisted vision of Deliverance, the Resident Evil series regularly shifts gears while looking out for the biggest trends in the industry and adapting to them.
It’s constantly trying to reimagine itself and has often been successful in doing so. With the series dormant for years, Resident Evil 4 created a template that the next two mainline games would follow. Most recently, Resident Evil 7 brought the franchise back to its survival horror roots while also making drastic changes to its core. You have to give Capcom credit: they always try to change things.
But they aren’t always successful. When a franchise swells in popularity, spin-offs are almost an inevitability – you need only look at Game of Thrones reportedly having four new shows based in the same world to see that. Resident Evil is no different. Since 1996, there have been twenty-seven games released and re-released in the RE universe. That’s a crazy output of T-Virus.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some forgotten Resident Evil games that have probably slipped out of your mind. Some are good, some are bad, but they’ve all fallen by the wayside.
1. Resident Evil Gaiden
How do you translate Resident Evil to handheld consoles when the technology just isn’t quite powerful enough to deliver the scares? Judging by Resident Evil Gaiden on the Game Boy Color, you don’t.
Following Leon and Barry on a ship overwhelmed by the undead, Gaiden is a top-down adventurer which switches to first-person when the zombies start to circle. As you might expect, this didn’t turn out too great – the changing perspectives and general lack of fidelity made Gaiden as irritating as it was cartoonish. Primarily outsourced to M4, Resident Evil Gaiden was released in 2001 and barely spoken about again. It doesn’t help that reviews weren’t exactly glowing, either.
2. Resident Evil Survivor
No, reality TV contestants are not placed into the Spencer Mansion and pitted against Umbrella in Resident Evil Survivor. Unfortunately, it’s just your standard light gun shooter game released when the craze was at its peak. What a waste.
Set shortly after Raccoon City is destroyed, Survivor follows an amnesiac who lost his memory after his helicopter was downed. While trying to rediscover who he is, the man comes across a rogue’s gallery of Resident Evil monsters, which he must shoot in the face. A lot. It’s fairly standard stuff that lacks a lot of polish, but long-time fans of the series have a soft spot for it.
3. Resident Evil: Dead Aim
There’s plenty of guilty love for games in the Survivor spin-offs, but its fourth entry seems to have no love at all. Perhaps it was just bad timing or maybe series fatigue had already set in (there had already been nine Resident Evil games by the time it was released in 2003), but Dead Aim didn’t seem to click with anyone.
Taking place, again, on a ship in the midst of a viral outbreak, Dead Aim is a fairly novel effort in that it allows players to swap from third to first person for shooting. It married the horror of Resident Evil with the action of earlier entries in the Survivor series without ever excelling at either. One for only the most devout of RE fans.
4. Resident Evil: Operation Raccoon City
This would probably be more widely remembered if it wasn’t for last year’s Umbrella Corps, which almost made Operation Raccoon City look like a good game. The only good thing Umbrella Corps did for the Resident Evil name was to make one of its earlier mistakes not look quite so bad, which says a lot.
Operation Raccoon City, as you might expect, takes places in Raccoon City during the initial outbreak and pitches you as Umbrella mercenaries who are tasked with cleaning up the undead and keeping the company out of controversy. It’s a serviceable shooter with a low budget that has some decent teamwork mechanics, but apart from that, it’s plain to see why it slunk into obscurity. Even if it did somehow sell 3.5 million copies.
5. Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
The Resident Evil franchise’s fabled Mercenaries mode shrunk down for the 3DS? What could go wrong? Well, nothing, as Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D was a modest critical and commercial success. But would you have remembered it or even known it existed if it hadn’t made this list?
As one of many Resident Evil spin-offs to come out between Resident Evil 5 and 6, it’s easy to forget about The Mercenaries 3D. It doesn’t have the on-rails fun of Resident Evil: The Darkside Chronicles or the classic RE-ness of Resident Evil: Revelations to offer – it literally is what it says on the box. It’s Mercenaries, but on the 3DS. There’s still a fun time to be had with this one, but don’t expect it to completely reshape who you are as a Resident Evil fan.
6. Resident Evil Outbreak: File #2
Everybody knows about Resident Evil’s first experiment with online play, but few remember (or were even aware) that a sequel was released for it. Considering it came out at the end of the PS2’s life less than a year after the original, it’s no surprise.
Quintessentially Resident Evil (almost to the point of its failure), Outbreak: File #2 maintained a lot of the series’ staples and kept true to the core of what the series is all about – it’s probably the most out-and-out Resi game on this list. However, there are only so many times you can return to Raccoon City in less than a decade. It did, however, manage to maintain a small but intensely dedicated following of fans who stuck with the game until its servers were closed in 2007.