Edit: This article was updated to include the release of Resident Evil Code: Veronica X on the GameCube in 2003. As this is a comprehensive history of Resident Evil on Nintendo platforms, Code: Veronica X was mistakenly omitted from the original article.
The much-anticipated Resident Evil 2 remake is giving Capcom the attention it rightfully deserves. A modern recreation of this caliber was anything but simple. However, Capcom seemingly revived the ultra-cheesy storytelling of a bygone era, modernized the control scheme, and reworked the graphical fidelity just a smidge with the newer RE Engine. I kid, of course, but the game is nothing shy of breathtaking and horrific. If you haven’t played it yet, believe me when I say that the horror of Mr. X hot on your heels will take your breath away – even if it’s amid a panic-inducing sweat.
Sadly, the Nintendo Switch is the only platform that can’t relive the nightmare of 1998 in Racoon City. However, Nintendo platforms do have a history of wading into the mire of zombie guts with the Resident Evil franchise – the mother that gave birth to the survival horror genre as we know it. In fact, that history begins with Resident Evil 2. So let’s sojourn into the memories of yesteryear, and take a look at the spread of the T-virus onto Nintendo platforms in chronological order by release date.
Resident Evil 2 (1999)
That’s right, Nintendo 64 received the original version of Leon and Claire’s horror among the dead in Raccoon City. The Nintendo 64 port actually received some alterations from the PlayStation release. In classic Nintendo fashion, an adjustment for the level of bloody violence was available including the ability to change the color of the blood. Leon and Claire could also don alternate costumes that were not available in other versions. Eventually, GameCube would also land a port.
The game follows the pair as they venture into Racoon City right when the chaos is in full swing. They are met by armies of the undead caused by the spread of the Umbrella Corporation’s T-virus which has swept over a majority of the city. Claire aims to find her brother, Chris Redfield, who was just dealing with his own problems in the abandoned mansion from Resident Evil. Leon thought he was about to start his career at the RPD. The first day on the job certainly tested his mettle.
Resident Evil – Canceled Game Boy Color port (2000)
While this game never “officially” saw the light of day, I felt that it was requisite that I should provide an honorable mention as part of the series’ timeline on Nintendo platforms. The original Resident Evil Game Boy Color version was being developed by HotGen, a developer who worked on a handful of other licensed handheld games at the time. Unfortunately, in the spring of 2000, Capcom announced the game was canceled simply because of the limited Game Boy Color hardware. Capcom commented to IGN on the matter stating that they “were not confident that the product would have made both consumers and Capcom happy.”
In 2012, an unknown source claimed to have two prototype cartridges of the unfinished Resident Evil GBC game. However, they sought $2,000 in exchange for releasing the code for the public to consume. Fans banded together to meet the $2,000 fundraising threshold and the ROMs for both versions were released to the public. Many applauded the game’s ambitious nature on Game Boy Color. However, the project remains unfinished. Check out a few screenshots courtesy of GameFAQs contributors.
Resident Evil Remake (2002)
Nintendo snagged the golden ticket early in the following generation as the company secured an exclusivity arrangement with Capcom to bring five new titles to the GameCube. The remake of the original Resident Evil was the first major step in this agreement. Shinji Mikami, the director of the PlayStation original, also directed the remake. Throughout development, the team tested the GameCube’s limitations. Everything was rebuilt from the ground up. At one point, they hoped to move away from the pre-rendered backgrounds that existed in the previous games, but fully animating environments proved too taxing for the hardware. Eventually, this remake would be ported to the Wii.
The game followed Jill Valentine and Claire’s brother, Chris Redfield, as they stormed the gates of an abandoned mansion only to find an unimaginable horror that would be the catalyst for a decades-long series. Resident Evil introduced the evil Umbrella Corporation, a pharmaceutical corporation bent on developing something a bit more sinister than… well, pharmaceuticals. Eventually, their bio-engineered T-virus would descend into the heart of Racoon City, turning mass panic into a mob of the undead. It’s a scene that would set the stage for RE2 and RE3. The Resident Evil remake launched in the spring of 2002.
Resident Evil Gaiden (2002)
Somewhere in between the release of the Resident Evil remake and Zero, Resident Evil Gaiden came to the Game Boy Color in North America. It was played from a top-down perspective which proved to be a bit more conducive to the GBC hardware than the failed RE1 port. As players approached zombies, the action would switch into a first-person view, allowing them to attack the enemies head-on. The game follows the exploits of Leon Kennedy and Barry Burton as they investigate an outbreak on an ocean liner. Gaiden received mediocre reviews from critics.
Resident Evil Zero (2002)
Resident Evil Zero was originally being developed for the Nintendo 64. When the team ran into issues with storage space available on the Nintendo 64 cartridge, the project was bumped to the GameCube. At this stage, it was in development simultaneously with the Resident Evil remake, albeit with a different team at Capcom. Subsequently, after the move to GameCube, the team had to recreate everything from scratch. Eventually, the game launched just months after the RE1 remake in November of 2002.
Like the title implies, Zero took place prior to the events of the original Resident Evil. It follows the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo team member Rebecca Chambers and a convicted murderer, Billy Coen, as they encounter the T-virus in full bloom within an Umbrella training facility. Interestingly enough, the player switches between both characters throughout the experience.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (2003)
Nemesis rounded out the trilogy, encompassing the viral outbreak and subsequent fall of Raccoon City. Originally released for PlayStation, Nintendo fans wouldn’t be able to take a crack at it until the GameCube release in 2003. This version arrived to middling reviews as the game wasn’t really enhanced in any noticeable way. The graphics were from a previous generation, and after the Resident Evil GameCube remake and Zero, fans and critics alike were left disappointed hoping for something more. It seems Capcom wanted to at least continue to honor a limited exclusivity arrangement for the series with Nintendo in releasing the title without a significant investment in a redesign.
Resident Evil 3 followed Jill Valentine shortly after the events in the abandoned mansion of Resident Evil as she attempts to make her escape from the city. Nemesis, a biologically designed weapon and Tyrant variant, was dispatched by Umbrella to eliminate S.T.A.R.S. members in order to snuff out the only witnesses to their insane experiments in the Arklay mountains of the first game. Resident Evil 3 begins one day before the events of Resident Evil 2 but finishes at the same point as the characters of both games escape the city before the nuclear strike that wipes out the T-virus infestation.
Resident Evil Code: Veronica X (2003)
Resident Evil Code: Veronica was initially a Sega Dreamcast exclusive. But with the poor commercial performance of the Dreamcast system, Capcom opted to bring an updated version of the game to other consoles. This version was titled Resident Evil Code: Veronica X, and it was released for the GameCube at the end of 2003. While the game is largely the same as the Dreamcast original, it has added cutscenes that provide more context with Umbrella’s involvement in the story. Additionally, there were slight graphical enhancements according to Capcom. Code: Veronica X was the fifth game to hit GameCube after the remake of the original, RE Zero, and the RE2 and RE3 ports.
Code: Veronica X puts players back in Claire Redfield’s shoes as she continues her search for her brother abroad. This was the entry that we finally were able to see the Redfield sibling reunion. The game also spends some time with the player controlling Chris Redfield. The game’s protagonist, Alfred Ashford, is out of his mind masquerading as his sister. His family has had deep ties to Umbrella even going as far as formulating a special virus known as the T-Veronica virus years prior — a virus that the real Ashford sister, Alexia, injected herself with. Between Claire and Chris finding themselves in another horrific mess and the bizarre case of the Ashford siblings, there is certainly a lot of family dysfunction afoot in Code: Veronica X.
Resident Evil 4 (2005)
The fourth mainline entry has, perhaps, one of the greatest development stories ever told in the realm of video game making. But to keep things brief, the final product was the result of several scrapped versions that preceded it. Mikami was back at the helm of the franchise he kickstarted. In one iteration, Resident Evil 4 took a far more supernatural approach that the team determined was not something akin to Resident Evil. Instead of entirely scrapping it, production continued and the project became a brand new title some might have heard of: Devil May Cry.
While the Devil May Cry version wasn’t technically scrapped, a few others were. Eventually, Mikami wanted to shift to something fresh. He didn’t want to deliver a run-of-the-mill experience after fans just had the remake of the original and Zero on their plates. This notion led to the over-the-shoulder third-person approach with animated environments and made Resident Evil 4 the critical success that it was.
Toto, we’re not in Raccoon City anymore…
The game followed Leon Kennedy years after the events of Resident Evil 2. No longer a Raccoon City police officer since there is no Raccoon City left to actually police, Leon is in a different line of work. He is tasked by the President of the United States to retrieve his daughter, who was kidnapped by a cult in rural Spain. Eventually, the creepy villagers turn on him as they’re all infected with a parasite known as Las Plagas. Of course, it’s up to Leon to get to the bottom of this while extracting the President’s daughter.
The game went on to receive critical praise and is hailed as one of the best in the series. While RE4 was initially exclusive to GameCube, it was ported to other consoles only a few months later as Capcom claimed it wasn’t actually part of the five-game exclusivity arrangement that was completed with the Code: Veronica X port. Just like the RE1 remake and Zero, Resident Evil 4 would eventually be ported over to the Wii.
Resident Evil spin-offs (2007-2017)
In the years that followed, a number of spin-offs would make their way to Nintendo platforms. Two rail-shooters, The Darkside Chronicles and The Umbrella Chronicles, were released exclusively for the Wii. Darkside Chronicles told brief versions of the RE2 and Code Veronica stories as well as adding to more background into Leon’s history with Jack Krauser, an antagonist from Resident Evil 4. Umbrella Chronicles follows a similar trajectory, gameplay-wise, but revisits the events of Zero, the RE1 remake, and Nemesis.
Resident Evil: Revelations is a new adventure that features Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine as they embark on a mission to tamp down bioterrorism threats. The game takes place just prior to Resident Evil 5, which never made its way to Nintendo platforms. Revelations was initially released for Nintendo 3DS but was later ported to Wii U. Revelations 2 features Claire Redfield and Barry Burton as playable characters with new partners for each. It’s set between Resident Evil 5 and Resident Evil 6 and is available on Nintendo Switch as part of a Revelations collection package bundling the first game with it.
Resident Evil’s future with Nintendo
While Nintendo Switch has had to sit on the sidelines due to the graphical prowess of Resident Evil 7 and the Resident Evil 2 remake, Capcom hasn’t discounted Nintendo fans when it comes to the horror series. Granted, there are no new games on the docket for Switch. But the classics Resident Evil Zero, Resident Evil (remake), and Resident Evil 4 are all headed to Nintendo Switch in 2019. And, I think it’s safe to assume these are the HD remasters.
Resident Evil has a large fanbase and is legendary in the halls of video gaming and for its contribution in popularizing the survival horror genre. And while Resident Evil titles are hitting other platforms, let’s not forget the franchise’s continued legacy with Nintendo. Also, don’t forget that when it comes to Resident Evil (remake) and Resident Evil 4, a couple of the series’ best titles originated on a Nintendo platform.
Accountant by day, video games enthusiast by night. Somewhere in between all of that, I’m a husband, dad, and generally a giant man-child, too. If a game is all about action, there’s a safe bet I’m playing it. I started laying waste to virtual worlds as a youngin’ on the ol’ Atari and haven’t stopped since.