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Resident Evil Zero, known in Japan as biohazard 0 (バイオハザード0 Baiohazādo Zero?), is a survival horror video game developed and published by Capcom for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002. It serves as a prequel to the first Resident Evil, covering the ordeals experienced in the Arklay Mountains by the S.T.A.R.S. Bravo Team. The gameplay remains similar to other entries in the Resident Evil series, but includes a unique “partner zapping” system. The player controls both S.T.A.R.S. officer Rebecca Chambers and convicted criminal Billy Coen, switching control between them at will in order to solve puzzles and take advantage of their unique abilities.
Development for Resident Evil Zero began originally on the Nintendo 64. The “partner zapping” system was created in order to take advantage of the short load times only possible with the capabilities of the N64 Game Pak. The game was designed to be more difficult than previous Resident Evil titles. The team removed the item storage boxes present in earlier games and introduced a new item-dropping feature inspired by Sweet Home. Development slowed down when the team began to encounter memory storage issues, and so production was moved to the newly announced Nintendo GameCube. The game had to be completely rebuilt, with only the concept and story carried over.
Resident Evil Zero received mostly positive reviews and has sold 1.25 million copies. Critics praised the graphics, soundtrack, and atmosphere. Many felt the new partner and item management systems added new layers of strategy, however some found the changes cumbersome or non-innovative. The traditional survival horror controls were largely regarded as clunky and outdated. Resident Evil Zero was ported to the Wii in 2008, and a high-definition remaster for modern game platforms was released in January 2016.