Seeing as we're fast approaching Halloween, I thought it would be appropriate to try to find a "scary" game to examine for Bury the Shovelware. I could have easily gone the "it's so bad, it's SCARY" route, but I thought it would be nice to avoid lame sarcasm. I spent most of this week's Top 5 gushing over Resident Evil 1 & 4, which reminded me that the PSOne original was ported to the DS in early 2006. Surprisingly, I never looked into it. Perhaps it had something to do with the mixed (but not terrible) reviews it received. To get to the point, now's the perfect time to take a closer look. Is Resident Evil: Deadly Silence shovelware? Let's find out.

Pedigree

On paper, this project looks easily reasonable. The original was an instant classic, and this version was both developed and published officially by Capcom. They could have easily farmed this out to a lesser company, but they decided to keep it in-house. The DS is perfectly capable of supporting PSOne-era graphics and audio, as we've seen fairly impressive graphics on the handheld before. And from what I'd read before playing this version, Capcom was adding touch-based controls and minigames into the mix. Although use of the phrase "minigames" in this neo-casual market can elicit a full-hearted "uggh" from most core gamers, I had faith in Capcom as a developer. After witnessing their beautiful port of this same title for the GameCube take full advantage of the system's capabilities, I expected the same for this version.

The Critics Said

As previously stated, the critics were mixed but usually far from labeling the game as terrible. The game holds a 71% average on Metacritic, with individual scores pulling fairly evenly from both ends. The positive outliers maintained that the original game holds up well and is implemented fairly well on the handheld, while the negative ones argued the exact opposite. This is purely speculation based on my analysis of reading other reviews, but it would appear that many scores seemed to reflect the reviewer's opinion of the original. For example, the Detroit Free Press asked if "this trip down memory lane worth $35? The Rebirth Mode is the most justifiable reason, and even then, the case isn't that strong." On the other hand, My Gamer noted that "RE DS doesn't score many originality points, but it doesn't have to. RE was, and still is, a classic, and having it available in the palm of your hand is nothing to complain about."

Rap Sheet

  • The FMV is heavily compressed, but then again the DS isn't the most popular handheld console based on its video presentation or high storage capacity. I haven't completed the entire game, but most of it seems to be here (to the best of my knowledge).
  • Hmm, the bad acting has yet to age to kitsch enjoyable. But that's probably an argument for another time.
  • They really missed a golden opportunity with touch controls. This game could have been given a huge boost by using complete touch controls for maneuvering. Anyone familiar with pre-Resident Evil 4 iterations in the series will know that perhaps the only downside of these wonderful games are the somewhat awkward controls. Although you get the hang of it after awhile, it's still never quite perfect. Using something like the touch-guided walking implemented in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass or a "tap to go here" control method similar to any of the classic LucasArts adventure games would have worked beautifully.
  • The touch sequences are interesting. Swiping at enemies with the stylus instead of taking aim with the standard button controls does switch things up a bit. However, the scenes pop up seemingly out of nowhere which requires that you quickly finagle the stylus out of its slot. Perhaps this was intended as a form of immersion to recreate the feeling of quickly getting a weapon out if a real life enemy were to suddenly approach. Either way, it's not overly great or terrible.


Silver Lining

Fans of the original will be happy to find that the port is near-perfect, as veterans simply seeking a portable version of their favorite zombie-slasher can simply choose the "classic mode," which forgoes all DS-specific additions.

Though the original asking price of $35 was a bit steep, copies can now be found on eBay for about 20 bucks. As I hypothesized earlier, the amount of enjoyment that you receive from Resident Evil: Deadly Silence will likely be directly related to how much you liked the original PSOne game.


Our Deduction

Examining this game is really making me question my deductions about the DS port of Myst. It mainly comes down to this: my deduction about Myst was that while ports are perfectly acceptable for fans of the original game, they must be intelligently utilized on the new platform. A main complaint about Myst was the lack of a cursor, which made the game tough, especially for those who've never played the original (this included me). I didn't definitely label the port as shovelware, but if forced at gunpoint to pass judgment on the game, I'd lean in that direction.

Yet similar critiques could be applied to this port of Resident Evil. To the best of my knowledge, there's no other recently released game on the DS that is controlled in the same way. In 1996, we toughed our way through the tough controls because the game was so new and unique. As someone who's very familiar with the original, I can imagine someone who played the original Myst thinking that it works better on the DS than Resident Evil does. I would still disagree, but the argument is fair.

It's a bit of a cop-out, but I think this game will be enjoyed best by fans of the original. I'd maintain that the additional modes and core game make this the better port than Myst, but that may be a product of my own bias. You could create a convincing argument to the contrary. And if you've got one, I'd love to hear it.



In gaming, the term shovelware refers to any game in which time and effort were eschewed in favor of turning a quick profit. Bury the Shovelware takes a closer look at these titles, typically those that inhabit the lower end of metascores. It attempts to: 1) find out where and how the developer went wrong 2) identify common traits present in most shovelware 3) measure how long the game can be suffered.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.