Resident Evil: Code Veronica (X) – Game Cube, Dreamcast, PS2, PS3, Xbox 360

RE - Veronica

I’ve made it this far! Game number six of the classic Resident Evil games before the format went the way of the dinosaurs, whalebone corsets and Mega Man. After their crowning achievement that is Code Victoria, the traditional escape-room-with-monsters format went right back into the Capcom vault until, presumably, indie gamers crowdfund a shitty game preying on nostalgia and Capcom watches that Kickstarter counter climbing and showing them exactly how much money their fan base is still willing to give to them.

RE - Tyran

Early in the game, you’ll find BOW Grenade Rounds. If you don’t save them for this guy, you’ll end up living some horrible Groundhog Day life, trapped on this plane for eternity.

Resident Evil: Code Veronica (or Code Veronica X, depending on your console of choice) stars a smattering of Redfields (what is the collective noun for Redfields? Let’s see…a murder of crows, a pod of whales, a flight of dragons…I’m going with a magnum. Does that sound right? A magnum of Redfields?). Chris and Claire, the Redfield siblings, play against the Ashford twins, who are essentially Jamie and Cersei Lannister if they were raised by Norman Bates.

RE - Twins

These two look so inbred, they’re probably their own incestuous parents.

Also, taking cues from Nemesis, which gave Jill a sexy hispanic mercenary boyfriend, Code Veronica gives Claire Steve, an immature, unstable loon who is tempted to violate her personal space while she’s asleep. Eh. I suppose we can’t all strike gold. Fortunately, they finish him off within the story, which is code for, “No more major protagonists! We don’t want to do a Resident Evil Zero for every dipshit who spends three minutes as a playable character!” Still, after a quick tap dancing lesson and strapping a pair of high-quality Dutch clogs to their feet, they throw our protagonists into a situation where a poorly-timed noise means the difference between life and the retirement plan of the typical plate of sushi.

RE - Steve

Really? Capcom gave me this? …Fine. Are we doing this or what?

Reprising his role as Chris’ mentor and would-be murderer, Albert Wesker shows up every so often to do villain things in dark gasses and show us that a virus that turns everyone into mindless undead cannibals can somehow turn one guy into the next incarnation of Neo. Personally, he gives me hope that some day I’ll get a cold that gives me a raging case of pyrokinesis. Wesker appears on the back of the box over the blurb, “Discover key plot clues!” How bad did Capcom think this game was that they thought the most exciting, interactive thing players could do would be to understand the dialogue?

RE - Alexia

No, I won’t kill you. In order to make the point that Chris is the stronger character, we’re just going to pit you against my unstable brother Alfred.

Code Veronica ups the usual stakes of Resident Evil by introducing not one, but two complexes with self-destruct mechanisms. Curiously enough, after a false ending halfway through the game, you actually get to return to the site and witness the aftermath of one of these explosions, which apparently have wrought all the devastation of a garbage truck driving past the building while the driver emits an especially prolific fart. Most of the elevators, equipment, and booby traps still work, and save for the occasional bit of rubble fallen across a door, the place seems pretty much intact.

E

10:28:10

38 saves 48 retries

Yeah, by now it’s probably no use hiding how bad I am at these games.

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Resident Evil 3: Nemesis – Playstation, Dreamcast, Game Cube, MS Windows

RE3 - Logo

I think I remember him…he sat behind me in 10th grade Geometry.

 

Hah…sweet. I got Resident Evil 3 out on Valentine’s Day.

Five full games into the series, and I’ve reached a limit for the number of buildings I can reasonably believe have self-destruct mechanisms. A top-secret laboratory working on unethical experiments, maybe. A mansion with a similar laboratory underneath? You’re pushing it, but I guess I’ll give you that one. A municipal water-treatment-slash-weapons-factory? Nope. Not even you, Umbrella. Hell, the FBI launches an investigation every time someone buys fertilizer in large quantities. How is it that a drug company can buy self-destruct detonators by what I can only assume is the gross and no one suspects a think until someone’s brain gets eaten?

Or am I wrong about this? Are self-destruct mechanisms common? Is my house not up to code without one? Does my school have one? Should I ask where the button is and run self-destruct drills with my students? What if I have to trigger it? How do I know what emergencies demand the destruction of my place of work?

…meh.

RE3 - Jill Fashion

I think Jill is looking to make herself a sandwich…preferably with Lara Croft.

Resident Evil 3 follows Jill Valentine after she ditched the uniform of a high-class Bond villain’s henchman and dressed in something more sporty, more casual, better suited for picking up dashing young Hispanic mercenaries in a lively night club currently burning to the ground and filled with the living dead. But oh, someone else has a crush on her—or at least wants to crush her—and this charming bachelor just won’t take “no” and a grenade to the crotch for an answer! Yes, Umbrella gave Hodor their new line of flesh-eating-bacteria shaving cream and sent him out the door. Meanwhile, there’s also Russian Guyovich Villainski, who broadcasts the fact that he’s evil so strongly that every TV in Racoon City is only picking up silent movies of men tying women to railroad tracks. Seriously, I thought we left the anti-Russian sentiments in the rubble of the Berlin Wall.

RE3 - Nemesis

And listen to the music of the night!

Aside from the simultaneous outbreaks of both the T-virus and G-virus, we learn that Nemesis is a new model of tyrant caused by the NE-T virus. There are so many letters running wild around town that I think it would be reasonable to assume that Umbrella’s stockholders are likewise the sponsors of Sesame Street. (Ever wonder about Cookie monster’s insatiable hunger? That’s right: the C-virus. Or why Claire Redfield sounds suspiciously like the star of the Big Comfy Couch? Right again: competition for children’s television can get fierce.)

Still, I’m beginning to question the wisdom behind Umbrella’s bioweapons. I know it seems like inflicting your own soldiers with plague-level infectious disease seems like a sure-fire way to victory, and Nemesis does seem unstoppable, but if you have to create ten thousand zombies just for the off chance of creating a tyrant or super-powered mad scientist, maybe take a moment and ask yourself if you weren’t just doing fine with traditional guns and bullets. And who thought that the best medium for this would be a viral infection? Not cyborg implants? Not genetic engineering? Your first thought was to make a bunch of people sick? Typical American pharmaceutical philosophy: there’s money to be made in prolonging the problem.

RE3 - Goin to work

I often feel like this when I go to work.

What? The gameplay? Fuck, it’s like every other Resident Evil game to this point. Except the zombies move a little quicker, Jill has figured out how to walk up stairs on her own, and Nemesis reaches velociraptor intelligence by learning how to open doors. Here, Capcom further stretches the definition of “Resident.” Maybe they realized that no one actually resides in a police station, so they decided to make up for that by using an entire city—albeit a city that, for whatever reason, seems to connect all its streets and alleyways with doorways. By RE5, they’ll just assume Africa counts as a place people reside, and by RE6 they just drop all pretense completely and decide we’re all residents of the entire planet.

Results:

5:10:42

Grade E

Seriously? I played on hard mode and got a lower score than ever before? I guess that’s what you get when you save before anything difficult and after anything unpleasant.

OneWord

Stars

Resident Evil 2 – PS1, N64

 

RE2 Eye Shoulder

So…Birkin has an eye…in his shoulder. How does that work? Can he actually see out of his shoulder?

When I began this every-Resident-Evil project, I swear I honestly didn’t plan for it to line up this way! Still, while everyone is driving the sleek, new model of Resident Evil 2, complete with hybrid engine, GPS Navigation, MP3 Player, and back-seat jacuzzi, I’m still booting up my Playstation with a crank. Yeah, but following the pattern, I’ll do the remake next, right? Guess again, Kreskin! As a guy who devotes his time to retro games—and having started this blog after the announcement of the PS4—I still don’t have anything that can play the remake! But I’m working on it.

RE2 - Crank Start

Actual photo of me trying to start my PS2.

I don’t like playing on easy mode. According to my ten-year-old save files, I didn’t the last time. But for whatever reason, I couldn’t make it to the police station. The point of Resident Evil has always been to conserve ammo and avoid monsters, but when the game throws an undead football team—including their mascot—at you in a corridor about as wide as your average toilet stall before the game’s first healing item, it’s hard to limp to the end without ending up like a communal pig roast. Easy mode makes the game condescendingly pointless. You still have over 40 zombies and a licker before it stops bogarting the herbs, but you get to walk around like you’re hoping to supply an NRA convention with ammo.

re2 Healing

Oh, it’s simple. Just get by these six zombies with whatever’s left of the 30 bullets you started with and there’s an herb for you. Just nudge your way past them, right?

With four unique scenarios (that tell essentially the same story), Resident Evil 2 adds some interesting ideas to the series. There’s a surprising attention to detail. Claire carries her survival knife on her shoulder, but if you stash it in the item box—say, because it’s like fighting zombies with a toothpick—you can see that the sheath is empty. Although, since the knife takes up a precious spot in your inventory, I’d expect to see that sheath stuffed full of herbs or bullets or at least a grenade launcher. They also removed the auto-aim function . . .

RE2 Disturbing Stuff

I know the writers are bad, but this is just downright lazy.

As usual, the writing is right up there with the likes of Shakespeare, Tolkien and the menu at McDonald’s. Leon chases around a hot Asian femme fatale that he just met in the worst unreciprocated crush since my junior year of high school, and Claire immediately drops her search for her brother to indulge her motherly instincts chasing around a ten-year-old girl. It always amused me how any random person wandering through the Umbrella labs could easily use scientific equipment, but RE2 tops all the other games by giving a ten-year-old a fluent knowledge of how to operate municipal water supply filtration plants.

As we’d see later in Resident Evil 3, this game introduces a giant terminator monster who chases you relentlessly throughout the map—unless, of course, you go through a door, in which case he’ll take a break for a little while. (Umbrella must be a deceptively progressive corporation if it allows its products to join their labor union.) You can stand and fight or prey on the eight-foot-tall monsters’ fear of messing up his snazzy bowler hat trying to fit through a door, or you can dump all your grenades into him until he passes out—it makes no difference. He’ll still be up and much healthier than he should be for a genetic freak literally powered by a virus.

RE2 - Alyson Court

The always lovely Claire Redfield.

I might laugh at him for his inability to overcome the concept of a slab of wood with hinges, but every time you knock him down and rush off in search of the next shiny object, you pass up an excellent opportunity to saw off his head or set him on fire or something. Even worse is blasting the mad scientist a few times, then sitting back to watch him transform. Hey Leon, you know what might be a good idea? Taking down the giant, aggressive abomination while he’s currently undergoing a crippling physical transformation. (Ah, Dr. Birkin, I, too, had a difficult adolescence.) And it’s not just bosses! Silent Hill lets you go all American History X on the monsters, but in RE2, you can’t curb stomp them unless they start digging into you like a porterhouse steak.

Still, when one major boss shrugs off a terminator-style plunge into a vat of liquid steel like a lukewarm bubble bath, and another catches his second wind after a swift, heavy decomposition, it becomes clear that the primary symptom of the G-virus is a wicked case of plot-contingent immortality. Leon, Claire and the monster are all fine with pulling their punches until conditions are just right for a thrilling climactic showdown.

Leon A – Rank C, 3:46:46

Claire B – Rank D, 3:37:20

(How the hell did my rank fall?)

Claire A – D, 3:15:33

Leon B – D 3:08:44

“Ada, Wait!” – 6

Resident Evil – Game Cube, PS4

 

220px-resident_evil_2002_cover

Jill and the zombie are actually big Simpsons fans, and are just recreating a scene between Homer and Bart

Yeah, there’s no way Chris and Rebecca aren’t fucking like porn stars after this game. This remake turns the frantic-yet-spunky kid-sister type into an all-business, straight-talking Stars team medic. Except whenever she turns to Chris and asks, “Do you want me to treat your wounds?” At which point she sounds like a wanton anime girl ready to cream her panties so much she could churn butter from it. You have to wonder what went on in the recording booth to get such a severe character disconnect.

resident evil - rebecca

Oh, Chris-kun!

Anyway, the Resident Evil remake for the game cube is like playing the original game hammered off your ass; it’s a lot more attractive than you remember, but you’re quite disoriented and don’t really remember where your keys are or which one goes to your front door. Also, you remember you weren’t supposed to say something about Jill sandwiches or a master of unlocking, but that really doesn’t stop you from saying any other stupid shit that comes to mind:

re remake - sandwich

…you know. If you were interested. I mean, my wife is cool with it…

“You’re alive!”
“That’s what I was going to say!”

You changed TWO lines! That doesn’t count as a revision! If a student turned in this script, it would still be a failing grade! I’ve heard better dialogue from cockatiels!

re remake - giant sink

Personally it seems like a sink that’s eight feet high and the size of a Volkswagen would not be useful for someone of Jill’s stature. Maybe Umbrella employs giants.

They also dressed up the set a bit so it doesn’t look like Umbrella is in the process of moving out. But running with the alcohol metaphor, there are quite a few blackouts. I know it’s supposed to be uncertain and scary, but it just feels like they didn’t finish drawing the backgrounds. The scary thing about the dark is it forces you to rely on senses that most people only use once in a while (You know…like the Rush Marine from Mega Man). But in a video game, with the only other sense being stimulated by a speaker coming from straight in front of you, turning the brightness down only results in the player awkwardly glancing around their brightly lit reality while their character runs headlong into a wall and just keeps going.

re remake - bee

Because it just wouldn’t be Resident Evil if your character didn’t just randomly shove disgusting objects into their pockets.

They actually revised the gameplay quite a bit. Certain enemies can now follow you from room to room. All the puzzles were revamped, and they added some random subplot about a special needs child roaming the mansion grounds.

All in all, it’s a worthwhile remake, even if the full-on panic attack I had while playing it actually came from a side-effect of a medication I was taking, and not from being swallowed whole by a shark that previously didn’t have enough power to rival a fifteen-year-old girl’s first attempt at a blow job.

Final results:

Jill 8:35:39

Chris: 6:18:05

Resident Evil – PS1, Sega Saturn, NDS

re dc rebecca shark

You have to give it to Rebecca: she finds an underground industrial complex with sharks flopping around on the concrete and doesn’t even flinch.

In 2010, I worked as a tour guide for the Split-Rock Lighthouse in Minnesota. In the lighthouse keeper’s house, they kept an old typewriter with a little card saying, “Please don’t type on the typewriter.” Bored with my job and with no fucks left to give, one day I changed that card with one that said, “An old typewriter. If you had an ink ribbon, you could save your progress.”

However, despite what you’d think, the kind of person who gets their kicks slaughtering zombies and running around abandoned buildings collecting junk doesn’t really overlap much with the kind of person who wants to see phallic buildings with giant flashlights in the Minnesota wilderness. I even witnessed a mom read the card to a six-year-old girl without so much as a twinge of confusion, as though it made perfect sense given the context. I guess a lot of people just glaze over in any setting that’s even remotely educational.

re crows

These crows have little tolerance for the unwashed masses who don’t appreciate art.

One of the big decisions I had in reviewing “every” Resident Evil game is just how many different versions of this game I’m willing to slog through in a row. Seriously, there’s the original, the directors cut, the directors cut Dual Shock Ver, the game cube remake, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, as well as a battle version for the Sega Saturn. Apparently there was even a game boy color port in the works before Capcom realized that was pure fucking stupidity. So naturally the ROM leaked and plenty of fans were willing to pay a literal ransom in order to play a 32-bit game on an 8-bit system with a 166×144 display.

Short answer: I’ll post about the original and the Game Cube remake. I’ve done Deadly Silence already, and the others just don’t seem different enough not to drive me crazy with repetition.

re dc chris shoots plant

Chris shoots a plant, the prequil to Chris Punches a Rock

You have your choice of playable characters. Some of you know Chris Redfield from Resident Evil 5. It’s worth noting that before he was a hulked-out Call-of-Duty wanna-be who punched boulders, he was a terrible actor in an ill-fitting cop costume who shot plants. Jill, on the other hand, before adopting her femme fatal look for Resident Evil 3, went into life-and-death situations dressed like she was on loan from the French Foreign Legion. The major difference between them—which will become a trend in the world of Resident Evil—is that boys have more life, while girls have more pockets. You know: exactly the opposite of the real world.

re dc poe shoots plant

Seriously…you want me to shoot a plant?

re dogs

Fortunately, launching itself head-first through the window gave it a concussion, and he’s rather easy to avoid after that.

Resident Evil is just an escape room where you get to shoot things. Focus is less on combat, more on conserving bullets while you solve puzzles to proceed. It is frustrating at times that, by the game’s logic, a grenade launcher and an herb both take up the same amount of space in your pockets, but I think to how many things slide out of my grip when I’m just walking from the couch to the kitchen. I suppose I don’t really need to leave a trail of junk that I’ve tried to stuff in my pockets to feed my kleptomania. On those occasions when one must do battle with a monster, I doubt they’d wait for me just a minute while I pick something up.

Final Score:

Jill – 5:47
You’d think for as many times as I played this game, I wouldn’t suck quite so much.

Chris – 4:20 “What a tough guy! You’ve closed this case completely!”
God, even the congratulatory text somehow manages to come across as a terrible actor.

Resident Evil Zero – Game Cube, Wii, PS3, PS4

re0 billy rebecca

Rebecca’s hot, but you have to take Billy too if you want the handcuffs.

“Traaaainnsss! TRRRAAAAIIINNNS!” God…a zombie game that starts on a train. What’s next? Fighting ghouls in an open field of grains? Perhaps being stalked through a hospital full of the creatures hungry for sprains. Oh! I got a good one: Resident Evil 8, opening on the Raccoon City Stock Exchange, where the living dead are on the move for capital gains.

Hey, Capcom took my idea for Resident Evil 6 starring a grown-up Sherry Birkin.

reo train

Zoinks! I sure hope we don’t get lost in this creepy train, Scoob!

My favorite thing about the first section of this game has got to be picking up a map for the train. I mean, it’s a train. Who maps a fucking train? It’s practically a one-dimensional vehicle. You know what? Let me draw a map of the train right now: ————— Mischief managed, there, Harry Potter. You know where everyone is? On the train. Right there. Look, not to be judgmental, but if you’re the kind of person who needs a map for a train, maybe we should just chalk up your being slaughtered by leeches as nature taking its course. Survival of the fittest.

Anyway, Resident Evil Zero: Aptly named because that’s how much ammo I had by the end of the first section. Have you ever tried going after a shambling hoard of corpses in one of the old-school RE games with just the crappy knife they give you? I’ve never felt so much like a post-op hernia patient than when I’m systematically trying to plunge my arm into those fetid, rotting garbage disposals.

reo train 2

Step one: work together to find a way around a train. Step two: team up to fight leeches.

Here’s an idea, guys: everyone on the planet has seen zombie movies—they’re not going to bleed out if you slash them enough. GO FOR THE GODDAMNED HEAD! They’re zombies! For the love of all that is Rebecca Chambers fan hentai, they TELL YOU WHERE TO AIM! “Braaains! Braaains!” (You ever see a zombie movie where they actually, specifically eat brains? No!)

Knife combat seems to be less a thoughtful inclusion in the game and more some rogue coder’s attempt to overcome the deep-seated scars after a childhood encounter with a drunken mohel.

re0 ammo

The innovative partner system allows you to waste ammo at an all new rate as your dumb-ass partner blasts a bird with a grenade launcher you forgot you had equipped.

Ahem. Anyway, I suppose if I’m going to play through all the RE games (give or take), I ought to say something about each one specifically. Okay, “Resident Evil Zero is Capcom’s first attempt to introduce a partner mechanic that no one ever asked for or wanted.”

The plot follows Rebecca, the hot, kid-sister type who serves as Chris’s sidekick in the original, as she works her way to the Spencer Mansion. She teams up with Billy, the mistaken-criminal with the heart of gold. He pulls a daring jailbreak, cleverly spying his chance to escape when his guards are devoured by monsters. It turns out Umbrella was pulling experiments on prisoners and he was likely on h is way to be given the full Albert Wesker beauty makeover. That was kind of a cool element.

re0 leeches

Ah hell yeah! Who could say no to free leeches?

The villain is obviously auditioning for a better role in a Final Fantasy game. Picture the standard disgruntled employee type. Except when you work for a grocery store and your boss shortchanges your time card, you steal a few grapes and walk out with a few office supplies. When you work for Umbrella, they assassinate you, and you get revenge by stuffing a few dozen genetically engineered leeches into your pockets and wreak bloody havoc with a biblical-style plauge.

Seriously…I wish I could wreak bloody havoc when I was mad.

The game follows the series’ usual formula in Capcom’s unerring, Mega-Man-style manner. However, they do get rid of the magic boxes to store extraneous items. Instead you just scatter your junk on the floor like some redneck family’s lawn.

Final Rank:

Wait…what? Did I miss something? I didn’t get a grade. What the hell!

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D – 3DS

resident_evil_3ds_mercs

Well…as it appears that Anne has hijacked my 3DS to play Pokemon, so having not touched Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D in the better part of a month, I suppose that means I’ve finished it and ought to write about it. You’ll forgive me if, for once, I don’t have a snappy introduction, but it’s rather hard to find meaningful anecdotes to relate about a game designed entirely around the satisfying squish noise that happens every time you kill a monster. Don’t get me wrong—it’s not that I didn’t experience the epitome of bliss playing through main series games written by a team almost talented enough to devise a plot for a dog food commercial, or attain true inner-peace after playing hour after hour of briefcase feng-shui so I could pick up that chicken egg I found. It’s just that after a certain point, my “press X to not die” skills plateau and I start to feel like there are more enjoyable things I could be wasting my time on. Like shoveling goat shit out of a barn.

hunk_000200000_bmp_jpgcopy

Should we include popular protagonists like Leon and Ada? Nah. Let’s use the are-you-my-mummy guy!

Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D strips away all the unnecessary fluff from RE games except for the title. As they still insist on reading the entire title out to you every time you start the game, this gives you plenty of time to go make a sandwich while the drunken frat boy they got tries to read it in his scariest surfer voice. But past that, the only game play they give you is running around various RE4 and RE5 areas on an ammunition easter egg hunt—providing you occasionally have to stomp on someone’s head to get to the egg. Well, I take that back. They do force you to play through an insufferable number of tutorial levels with each of the eight playable characters, and then again with their alternate costumes, as though each one were recovering from a shattered spine and had to attend regular physical therapy sessions…with murderous monsters eying up their neck like a lumberjack ogles a sequoia.

If you’ve played the mini-games of the same name included in RE4, RE5 or RE6, you essentially know what you’re getting into. I say “essentially” because even though The Mercenaries was perfect as a mini-game, Capcom apparently felt the need to stuff it like a swollen, bloated turducken until it “felt” like a full game, apparently forgetting that Donkey Kong and Space Invaders were both full games—but like a cat in heat, I’ll wait and touch on that later. Each level starts you off with a unique set of weapons, two minutes on the clock, and a rag-tag band of scrappy fighters who just happen to be infected with a parasite that makes them want to trade recipes with Hannibal Lecter. You can pick up time extensions to encourage you to move around the map, and you get small bonuses for style if you wrassle your enemies like a gator and kill them with your bare hands.

screenshot-resident-evil-the-mercenaries-3d-800x480-2011-06-29-94

As far as I can tell, you get a double-S rating just for killing this guy.

At the height of popularity for arcades, games were much like life, relationships, bureaucracy and work—you couldn’t win, they just got harder and harder until you died. The Mercenaries employs this philosophy. Providing the enemies don’t tenderize you like a fillet mignon or coat you in a heavy layer of pre-digestive juices, the best you can hope for is to extend your time as long as possible. You get graded based on your score, which is primarily affected by the number of monster kills you can chain together, but also seems partly influenced by the amount of times you had to pound your own heart back into working order. (Once again proving that Resident Evil has about as fluent a medical knowledge as an Alabaman redneck with an iPhone. Took one too many bullets to the spine? Rub an herb on it! You’ll be fine! Smashed with a hammer the size of an SUV? Just give yourself CPR and you’ll be good to go until the next monster grabs you by the shoulders and spits on you!) Higher scores unlock more stages, characters and costumes. Rinse and repeat.

re_mercenaries_3ds_screen_01

Ultimate matrix-y super villain Wesker–now with all the strength of a maxi-pad.

The game has a sort of simplistic beauty in that way, like a graceful ballerina performing an elegant, well-choreographed dance on the back of a monster truck belching out smoke like a forest fire. See, in their attempt to release the Mercenaries as a stand-alone title, Capcom stuffed a little too much into it. Capcom is the guy who goes to Old Country Buffet and insists on getting their money’s worth, so they stack up the food on their tray like devil’s tower, goes back for more twelve times, and spends the rest of the evening in the ER with a tube down their throat. The perfection of the Mercenaries as a mini-game was that there were only four levels and five characters. The point wasn’t to race through as fast as possible to complete everything you can like you had a bag of cocaine, a life of regrets and a week left to live. Instead, you practiced, learned each level, and tried to best your own scores. Human psychology awards us a much higher level of satisfaction when competing against ourselves than it does for competing against a computer program or even another human. That’s why the mini-game and a lot of those old arcade games worked so well. If we worked hard to best our past skills, the feeling of self-worth we get completely negates the realization that we could have written a novel or mastered the French horn in the time it took us to reach level 4 of Donkey Kong. Meanwhile, when the focus is on completion and moving on to the next level, we tend to get frustrated when we’ve mastered a level for fifteen minutes and then die instantly because we were playing with the sound off and didn’t notice the one-hit-kill boss sneak up behind us with a chainsaw and cut off our heads for the forty-seventh time that day. But on the plus side, I started kicking out enough BTUs in anger that my heating bill dropped by about five bucks that month.

chainsaw

Most likely the last thing you’ll see. He’s like a ninja.

Not only do they have so many stages and characters that you might mistake The Mercenaries for a real estate firm, but the primary focus has shifted off of chaining monster kills and onto defeating bosses. Except for most of the tutorial levels, each stage has at least one boss enemy. That isn’t new. Each stage in the mini-game had them too. Except there, they were thrown in every now and then as a check on your power. They provided a hiccup in the difficulty to make sure you didn’t keep mowing down monsters like a field full of daisies. In the Mercenaries: 3D, the bosses take center stage, wresting it away from everything else and demanding all your attention like a narcissistic drag queen. The difference is that in the 3D game, the bosses constantly leer over you, breathing down your neck like the guy on the bus who smells like pee. You never get a moment to rest and go back to what you love—squishing monster heads. It seems like each level has either a never-ending parade of bosses to fight, or they give the bosses so much health that even the Republican party wants to take them down.

As I mentioned before, Anne had to take the game away from me. Whether I was playing it because I enjoyed it or because I felt obligated to unlock all the costumes…let’s say it’s about 50/50. The game definitely appeals to me as a fan of the mini-game, but it does so in the way that frozen yogurt appeals to me as a fan of ice cream—it fills the need, but you walk away feeling like something was wrong with it. Now if only Anne will get done with Pokemon, I’ve got a flaming meat tenderizer guy I need to kill…