After I had completed the first two Resident Evil games on the original PlayStation, I was hungry for more survival horror type games. There really weren’t that many out there at the time, or if I saw one it may not have piqued my interested at eighteen. Back then there were only magazines and television commercials to let you know what games were being released. I do remember seeing the Parasite Eve ad on television and I could not wait to get that game. The cut scenes looked amazing, the atmosphere looked right up my alley, and it looked like it didn’t have full turn based combat. I wound up getting the game and have beaten it in on several occasions, this could be one of those games I go back to once a year if I had the time, and boy do I wish I had the time.
Other than the Resident Evil series, I had never really played a story heavy game. Most of the games I played prior were platformers where all you did was jump and not die, so this was very new to me. In Parasite Eve, you play as Aya Brea, a New York City police officer whose life gets turned upside down while on a Christmas Eve date. Eve (the antagonist) manifests during an opera Aya is watching and proceeds to murder most show goers, Aya gets her date out and then she plays hero. There she encounters her first of many mutated animals that she must defeat. She also meets Eve, who lets her know that she has a power deep within her and that it will be unleashed. Eve then disappears to infect more of New York with the mitochondrial mutations. Your task is to find out how to stop Eve and to save New York in the process, but not with a little help from your friends.
Most of the games that I had played up to that time had very fluid combat or at least fluid for the time. Resident Evil had the tank controls but I never had to shoot and then wait for the zombie to bite me. Turn-based fighting always left a bad taste in my mouth; I never really understood it. Why in God’s name would anyone hit someone, then pause their attack and wait to get hit by the other person? Thankfully Square Soft did not have complete turn-based combat in this game, or I’m sure I would have shelved it like I did with Final Fantasy VII. Instead Aya has a combat meter that slowly fills up after each attack, but instead of standing there waiting to be attacked, you have full control of Aya and can run around the battle area to avoid hits. This combat worked great for the game; I would shoot the mutant with my upgraded pistol and then run away while the mutant shot out attacks. Battles were enjoyable instead of a huge pain, and I looked forward to fighting all these mutated creatures.
I had been to New York a few times before I purchased this game and playing in a digital real life city was something new. Once you get to a certain point in the game you can travel to certain places in New York City such as Central Park, The Museum of Natural History and so on. I had never experienced that before; now it is common for an entire city to be digitized into a game perfectly, but back then that aspect was in its infancy. When I replayed the title recently the game gave me chills due to a pan of the New York skyline; seeing The World Trade Center brought back both good and bad memories. Square Enix would be able to do wonders with the new technology they have and they could easily put Aya back in New York with updated graphics. Final Fantasy VII is getting a nice facelift, albeit episodically, but they are still doing it. Hopefully they wouldn’t make Parasite Eve episodic; I’m not a fan of that style of storytelling.
Parasite Eve hasn’t aged too well graphically, and sometimes it is pretty ugly to look at when I’m playing it, but everything else holds up so well. I can only imagine the amazing graphics Square Enix would be able to bring to a ground up remake. The graphics in 3rd Birthday were done very well for being on the PSP. Sadly Square went in such a different direction with the sequel that I didn’t enjoy it very much. I was happy that they tried to resurrect this old IP, but I was saddened that it was thrown to the dying PSP. Square needs to give this series one more shot in glorious HD graphics for current generation consoles. It seems like a no brainer to me, but it could prove more daunting from a development standpoint. Hopefully Final Fantasy VII will be a huge hit and they’ll turn their eyes to other older classic games.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Square Enix recently began a new studio for recreating classic ideas into the new generation. They are called Tokyo RPG Factory, and they are currently working on I Am Setsuna. It is scheduled to release on PS4 and PC this Summer, and it’s combat system is inspired by Chrono Trigger. Perhaps Parasite Eve can be given a remake or at least a spiritual successor from this studio.