Retro Head2Head

“Can you survive the horror?”

System Breakdown PS1 N64
Publisher Capcom Capcom
Developer Capcom Angel Studios
Release Date
01/28/1998 10/31/1999
2 Discs Cartridge (64MB)
MobyGames Score

Merry Christmas everyone and welcome back for another exciting Retro Head2Head! This is one retro we’ve just been “dying” to complete: Resident Evil 2 on the N64 and PS1. Really, what game screams Happy Holidays more then one about the walking dead, rotting flesh, and a virus? Exactly! You might think the winner of this deathmatch is obvious — well think again!

How we captured: All the Rollover pics you see have been captured using S-Video cables for both systems and our capture device set to default to ensure an equal and level playing ground. Resident Evil 2  was originally developed by Capcom and released for the PlayStation in North America on  January 28, 1998, while the Nintendo 64 version was developed by 20 employees from Capcom Production Studio 3, Angel Studios and Factor 5 — and had a budget of $1,000,000. The N64 version was released on Halloween 1999 – almost 2 full years after its PlayStation brother.  The Nintendo 64 version also made use of the system’s Expansion Pak for Hi-Res graphics — did it help? Lets find out.



Graphics:The first thing we want to show you are the differences between Resident Evil 2 on the Nintendo 64 with and without the Expansion Pak installed. We’ve seen reports saying that using the Expansion Pak shows huge differences. Well, to our surprise, while the Expansion Pak did show us slight differences, they were nothing to write home about. The most noticeable difference we saw dealt with character models being slightly cleaner, and text throughout the game was slightly easier to read. The other difference was a slight increase in display resolution. The increased resolution offered by the N64′s Expansion Pak has been dubbed “Hi-Res mode” by some, and while this increase was more noticeable back in 1999, today it hardly seems to matter. Have a look at the rollovers below to judge for yourself.

Roll over the image to see the difference.

Roll over the image to see the difference.

Roll over the image to see the difference.

Graphics continued: On to the matter at hand — the Original PlayStation One version against the two years newer Nintendo 64 incarnation, using the Expansion Pak. Differences in clarity between these two can be seen right away by glancing at our roll-overs. The PlayStation version holds a definite upper hand here when it comes to the game’s pre-rendered backgrounds. In every image, the PS1′s bcakgrounds have a more natural look to them, while the N64′s backgrounds look almost like a fading stamp, or slightly blurry. It appears the N64 version also has a “squished” look to it, despite the use of the system’s Expansion Pak. The PS1′s advantage with backgrounds can be seen in every rollover containing a background.



On to effects. Based on our playtime with these two, the PS1 holds another advantage when it comes to effects, specifically fire. This can be seen best in rollover 2 on page one, and rollover 6 on page two. The fire in the N64 version comes off looking faded in comparison. As for the game’s FMV scenes, the PS1 gets another easy win. Angel Studios did a wonderful job fitting, or compressing these FMV scenes onto one (HUGE) 64MB  cartridge, but the PS1′s two disc optical media displays far less compression in comparison. The PS1 version is much brighter in these scenes resulting in another graphical advantage for the PS1.



Finally we reach a graphical category that the N64 can be argued a winner in — character models. The N64 significantly reduces the ugly “jaggies” found throughout the PS1 version and clearly adds more polygons to all in-game models. In some instances this comes with a price. At times, we can actually see a drop in detail on characters in certain areas on the N64 version. This can be seen best in rollovers 6 and 7 on page one, and rollover 2 on page two. However, in some shots we can see the N64 has added details. This is best demonstrated in rollover 6 on page two. So even in a retro Head2Head we get “pick your poison” moment. Do you despise jaggies so much so you would take a slight loss in detail? If so, the N64 version is an easy winner on character models throughout. Overall however, the PS1 wins in backgrounds, effects, and FMV, while the N64 gets a slight win with character models. We’re calling a PS1 victory here.



Sound/Extras: The two year newer N64 version does include a slew of extras over the original. Some of the extras included are; alternate costumes, rumble pak support, a violence adjuster, and being able to change the color of blood. A randomizer was also added which places items differently during each playthrough. The N64 version does not require a memory pak to save games and uses the cartridges battery for this — always a nice feature. The N64 version also sports the addition of the “Ex Files”. These Ex Files give gamers information from stories published on the entire Resident Evil series and can be viewed at any time. The final and arguably the best extra has to be the alternate control scheme players can choose which allows for quick turning, now a series staple. That being said, none of these extras are “game changing” — who would really want to change blood color from red to green? Not us. While we won’t be basing our conclusion on “extras”, they must be noted.

As for sound, the N64 version uses MoSys FX Surround sound, giving Resident Evil 2 much needed Dolby Surround sound, as well as revamped sound effects. Each instrument has a higher sample rate than on the PlayStation, resulting in higher-quality music. It really is amazing what Angel Studios accomplished on a single N64 cart. Surround sound is not available on the PS1 version, but this doesn’t mean the PS1 version didn’t sound clearer in a basic stereo sound setup, which in fact it does.

Loading: This category delivered less than shocking results. Again, the RE2 N64 development team gave us a great port of this game, but with the use of the N64′s fast loading cartridge, we were definitely expecting faster load times from the system. While the N64 version did load faster in every instance, there wasn’t the huge difference that we were expecting when a cartridge faces off against a CD. However, faster is faster, and there is no doubt the N64 takes the loading category. Below are the sample load times we found.

PS1 Load Times N64 Load Times
Sample 1: 12 Seconds Sample 1: 10 Seconds
Sample 2: 5 Seconds Sample 2: 2 Seconds
Sample 3: 6 Seconds Sample 3: 3 Seconds
Sample 4: 6 Seconds Sample 4: 5 Seconds
Sample 5: 7 Seconds Sample 5: 4 Seconds
Sample Average: 7.2 Seconds Sample Average: 4.8 Seconds

Rollover the image to see the difference. From the game’s opening movie.

Rollover the image to see the difference. Notice the fire effect is more pronounced on the PS1.

Roll over the image to see the difference.

Roll over the image to see the difference.

Rollover the image to see the difference. Here we can see Leon is smoother on the N64, but backgrounds are more blurry. Also on N64, where a the buttons on Leon’s uniform?

Roll over the image to see the difference. Notice the shop owners face and fingers have more detail on the PS1 version but are smoother on the N64 version.

Rollover to see the difference. Again, smoother models on N64 with a slight loss of detail: focus on the collar of the zombie standing to the left.

Rollover to see the difference.

Roll over the image to see the difference.

Roll over the image to see the difference.

Rollover to see the difference.

More Rollovers, Conclusion, Video, and Staff Choice on Page 2 >>>

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