Earlier today, while checking out a playable demo of Capcom's Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles, we had an opportunity to try out the new Zapper peripheral that Nintendo unveiled during its pre-E3 press conference. The Zapper is essentially just a plastic gun-shaped casing that houses both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk peripherals. The Wii Remote forms the gun's barrel, while the Nunchuk is housed in the handle with its analog stick and buttons exposed. Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles proved to be a great game with which to show off the new peripheral because it's much more than just a light gun game, and the Zapper is much more than just a light gun.
The demo that we played through almost to completion took place at night and saw us shooting our way along a city street, down through a sewer, and ultimately back up to street level again. Lighting throughout the level largely came courtesy of storefronts and burning cars, neither of which were present down in the sewer, of course. Our goal was simply to get to the end of the level by killing dozens of zombies before they killed us, and although our character's movement through the level was automatic, we're pleased to report that there's a little more to Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles than just pointing at the screen and squeezing the trigger button.
Holding the Zapper in both hands, we were a little surprised to find that it's the Wii Remote's trigger positioned under the barrel that's used to shoot rather than either of the Nunchuk's buttons. The Nunchuk serves a number of other purposes, which include using the analog stick to look around and target enemies who would otherwise be offscreen, tapping the Z button to counterattack zombies in melee range, and holding the Z button while swinging the gun wildly to perform knife attacks.
In addition to the knife and standard handgun, our arsenal in the E3 demo included a shotgun, a machine gun, and a handful of grenades. Switching among the weapons was as easy as tapping the C button, while throwing grenades involved holding down one of the Nunchuk's buttons and then hitting the Wii Remote trigger. To reload whichever weapon we had equipped, we had to point it offscreen with a sudden jerking motion. Our ammo for everything but the handgun was severely limited at the start of the demo, but by using the analog stick to look around and then hitting the Z button when we were looking at an item, we were able to find additional ammo, as well as health-restoring herbs and the like.
Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of our enemies on this occasion were zombies that, in keeping with the locale, were still wearing police uniforms and the kind of everyday clothing that they would have picked out of their wardrobes when they were still human. Other enemies included a small pack of dogs (reminiscent of those that crash through the window in one of Resident Evil's most memorable scenes) in a dark alleyway and a pair of giant spiders down in the sewer. The enemies weren't always as aggressive as we might have expected, but it's conceivable that the demo's difficulty had been set low so that those of us at the even would get to see as much of the level as possible.
All of the enemies that we came up against were vulnerable to headshots that, when perfectly executed, resulted in one-hit kills. The onscreen crosshair made aiming relatively easy, and when it was positioned over the exact spot needed for a one-hit kill, it got smaller and turned bright red to let us know. The zombies also have a number of other vulnerable spots that you can use to your advantage as we discovered when we aimed at their kneecaps and sent them falling to the ground. This slowed them down considerably and made subsequent headshots a lot easier to pull off.
Those perfect headshots invariably resulted in an explosion of blood and the enemy getting decapitated, which was satisfying but certainly not gratuitous. We enjoyed our time with Resident Evil: Umbrella Chronicles a great deal, and although using the Nunchuk's analog stick to look around while also moving an onscreen crosshair by moving the Zapper isn't quite as intuitive as it might be, our first impression of the latest peripheral in Nintendo's arsenal is definitely positive. We look forward to bringing you more information as soon as it becomes available.