TOKYO--Capcom's Biohazard games--better known as the Resident Evil series in the States--are considered by many to be the Gospel of the survival horror genre. If so, Capcom's release of Biohazard: The Stories for Japanese mobile phones this month constitutes preaching to the choir. We had a chance to play this new interpretation of the classic zombie-hunting series at Capcom's NTT DoCoMo desk, and found that Raccoon City is very nearly as scary on a handset as it is on a TV screen.
Biohazard: The Stories is a collection of 15 entirely new zombie-hunting scenarios, all of which fit seamlessly into the Biohazard story continuum, despite their formulation for the mobile platform. After beginning a new game and choosing a character (Jill, in our case), you can shoose how many missions you'd like to play. Additional missions will be unlocked for download as you progress through the game.
Biohazard: The Stories' is a surprisingly accurate simulacrum of the early Biohazard/Resident Evil games for the PlayStation in terms of gameplay and scope, focusing on the exploration of dilapidated mansions and dank basements--all of which are infested with zombies and other nasty creatures. Biohazard: The Stories uses the same fixed, third-person camera angles as its counterparts, and it switches seamlessly between viewpoints as your character cautiously navigates the game's not-so-empty hallways. Wisely, Capcom has simplified the controls for mobile play, especially in terms of aiming: When enemies pop up out of nowhere, you can simply hold down the right soft key to lock on to a target and blaze away with the action key.
The game is also unexpectedly accurate from a graphical standpoint, as its visuals are only slightly grainier than PlayStation quality. More impressively, Biohazard: The Stories puts out a very respectable frame rate of about 25 frames per second on a typical FOMA handset. This means that the all-important atmospheric characteristics of the Biohazard series--long periods of inactivity, broken up by abrupt confrontations with the forces of darkness--have made it into the game intact.
Biohazard: The Stories appears to be the real deal: a console gaming experience wrapped up as a downloadable Java application. With any luck, Capcom will decide to issue a US release when the time is right.
For more updates, be sure to check GameSpot's coverage of Tokyo Game Show 2004.