It has been 15 years since the Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition release date, and even in 2022, this game stands up as the definitive Resident Evil experience. There are parts of Resident Evil 4 that are dated, from the stop-and-shoot mechanics to the GameCube-era graphics, but of all the consoles the game has been ported to over the past two decades, the Wii stands out as the best among them. It was an excellent showcase of what the Wii motion controls were capable of, and it expanded on the original strategic element of the game by giving you precise control over the aiming.
Some argue that the motion controls break the game and make it easier. True, it eliminates some of the challenge, but you gain so much more by making the Resident Evil 4 gameplay feel like a whole new experience. Resident Evil 4 Wii blends the light survival horror elements of the original release with updated controls for a generation mesmerized by what the Nintendo Wii was capable of. Even today, if someone hasn't played the game, Resident Evil 4 on Wii is the version I recommend they play. It is the definitive version of this game, and in some ways helped pave the way for what would eventually become Resident Evil 4 VR in 2021.
Updating Resident Evil 4 with Motion Controls
When Resident Evil 4 initially launched in 2005, it brought the series from a place of strict survival horror and inventory management to more action-oriented gameplay. Some lamented the lack of atmosphere and fright, but many praised Resident Evil 4 for its gameplay and new mechanics. The addition of a laser sight to the guns made it possible to precisely aim each shot with the GameCube joystick. In Resident Evil 4 Wii, this laser sight was replaced with a small reticule that responded to the positioning of the Wii remote.
This did allow the player to line up shots while on the move, removing some of the difficulty from the initial game, but Leon would still stop moving when it came time to actually fire. This stop-and-pop element wouldn't be remedied until much later when Resident Evil 4 VR was released for the Meta Quest 2. The controls were as intuitive as they come, readying the gun with the bottom Z trigger while pressing the A button on the Wii remote to fire.
While reviewing Resident Evil 4 VR last year, it reminded me greatly of a fully realized version of what the Wii edition had been going for.
With Leon taking on his classic firing stance, all you needed to do was move the Wii remote to take down any enemies that were ahead. And if you wanted to reload? Simply ready your weapon and shake the Wii remote, causing Leon to drop his magazine and load a fresh one. Grabbed by an enemy? Furiously shake the Wiimote to escape, or shake the Wiimote when trying to escape a boulder. Want to knife a downed enemy? Simply swipe with the Wiimote and Leon will mimic the motion with his blade.
The Resident Evil 4 Wii motion controls brought a new level of immersion to the game and made it feel fresh for players who had already beaten it multiple times over since it launched a couple of years prior. As a 2007 title, it released the same year as other juggernaut titles like Super Mario Galaxy, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, and Wii Fit. It played its part in selling the Wii as a console for people of all ages, and though future titles would go back to traditional controls up through Resident Evil Village, Resident Evil 4 Wii did help pave the road for what would become the eventual RE4 VR release.
Resident Evil 4 Wii Was An Early Look at What Resident Evil VR Could Be
Though the Wii was a far cry from what virtual reality headsets would eventually become, it did set the stage with basic motion controls and encouraged developers to think of new ways to control a game. While reviewing Resident Evil 4 VR last year, it reminded me greatly of a fully realized version of what the Wii edition had been going for. Full range of movement made aiming and shooting in the game easier, and a dynamic inventory of pulling different weapons off your body enhanced item loadout efficiency, making it easy to switch between a handgun, rifle, or grenade without pausing into the inventory selection screen.
The Resident Evil 4 Wii motion controls were a very early iteration of what people would eventually get to do with a full VR headset. While Sony and Microsoft were pushing forward with more powerful machines that focused on traditional controls, the Wii focused on bringing gaming into the conversation for everybody and unknowingly set the stage as a predecessor for modern-day VR. Nintendo was able to succeed with their platform thanks to approachable titles like Wii Sports, while also catering to traditional gamers with a solid lineup of platforming, adventure, and action games, including Resident Evil 4 Wii, which came along at the perfect moment to kick off the 2007 summer gaming season.
Resident Evil 4 Wii 15th Anniversary
Resident Evil 4 has been ported to countless platforms at this point in its lifecycle, but until Resident Evil 4 VR, no port pushed the boundary of what was possible like Resident Evil 4 Wii. Even 15 years later, the Resident Evil 4 Wii edition stands out as not only an excellent Resident Evil game, but one of the best games of the Wii generation.
If you haven't played Resident Evil 4 Wii, it's worth checking out either on your original Wii console or downloading from the Wii U eShop while the services are still available. And with a supposed Resident Evil 4 remake coming at some point in the next few years, it might not be a bad time to dust off the Wiimote and check out the Resident Evil 4 Wii Edition.