Written by Jonathan Wojcik
RESIDENT EVIL: CODE VERONICA MONSTERS
The fourth Biohazard game ever released is an interesting one for a number of reasons. It was originally intended to be the true third chapter in the main series, with Nemesis developed as a spin-off title concurrent with Resident Evil 2. When the latter proved difficult to port over to the then brand-new Sega Dreamcast, Code: Veronica was developed as a Dreamcast-exclusive spin-off title, and the first Resident Evil game I'd never get around to playing for myself.
The story and setting of Veronica is also interesting, leaving behind Raccoon City for an Umbrella-owned prison on a remote island off the coast of South America. Later, the action moves to the Antarctic, where the maniacal Doctor Alexia Ashford has taken over an isolated research laboratory...
Ants aren't the first thing encountered in the game, but they are the smallest, and they're among the most important to the storyline. Ants are an obsession for the game's villainess, who intends to use a mutated ant colony as the infection vector for the T-Veronica virus.
Ants are an animal as terrifying as they are lovable. Large enough colonies are capable of killing or at least driving away almost any other living thing they encounter, but they're very rarely explored for horror. I have to say that this game really doesn't do enough with them, but that they're a presence at all is pretty cool!
Code: Veronica also features a return of the Lepidoptera, this time much smaller than the giant moth we ran across in Resident Evil 2 but surprisingly much, much more dangerous, as they spawn continuously and can induce poison status with their toxic powder, though it isn't even the adults you have to fear the most.
Bizarrely, moths infected by T-Veronica actually implant eggs in cocooned bodies, developing into so-called "larvae" that can burst from the host body, latch on to the backs of prey and subdue them with venom.
THE MOTH "LARVA"
These parasites look nothing like a caterpillar or the larval stage of any other insect, but rather like fully developed, wingless moths with elongated, clawed forelegs. There do exist moths with entirely wingless adult females, and that's how I'm more inclined to interpret this life cycle. Moths with parasitic larvae do exist as well, however, with those larvae attaching like ticks to the bodies of other insects and continuously draining blood over the course of days or weeks.
Maybe the cocooned hosts house proper larvae, and this chest-burster is simply the mature female, freshly metamorphosed?
Worms are back! This optional mini boss is explicitly a mutated earthworm, and of course, hunts by bursting periodically out of the ground. It's so named for the fact that its mouth can split open pretty wide into four lobes, looking quite a bit more like a graboid from Tremors.
THE GULP WORM
One of my favorites from this series, this mutated salamander bears a lamprey-like mouth on its underbelly and can discharge electricity to paralyze its prey! I love this pale, bulbous tadpole stage, its anterior just reminiscent enough of human buttocks to feel unsettling.
The mature Albinoid is more or less the same enemy ramped up in power, even still restricted to the water despite its fancy new legs. Its "headless" appearance really is amazingly creepy, isn't it? A real sense of "this thing shouldn't be alive" with even more of that uncanny human twinge.
So this is basically the "perfected" version of the Tyrant from the first game, no longer requiring an extra heart to pump its blood. Interestingly, official art implies that both arms possess a retractable cluster of talons, but we don't really see this in action in-game. In the later remake, one arm is clawed while the other is a blunt knot used for bashing. Speaking of the official art, I like the cold, pained expression here, and that disturbing crotch bulge as if its reproductive organs have simply been "grown over." Very, very disquieting.
THE MASS PRODUCED TYRANT
Despite being closer to "mass production," it still takes an exceptionally resilient subject to survive the long, costly and intensive transformation into one of these creatures, hence....
Another of my favorite monsters in the series, the Bandersnatch is the Bargain Basement Tyrant; an attempt to create something like the Tyrant that could be cultivated faster and cheaper. The result is a highly unstable, lopsided freakazoid whose left arm, for some reason, almost always degenerates by the time the creature has completed its development, while the right arm overcompensates and can even stretch like some wacky, grabby rubber toy. Add to that its melted-looking face and the bulging, green veins creeping around its body like some parasitic vine, and you have one of the game's most grotesque and surreal humanoid ghouls, even ghastlier and more miserable looking in-game:
LOVE it! Nothing beats that face!
SPOILER: this guy is the horribly mutated form of Alexander Ashford, father of the game's main villain and her twin brother, Alfred. The two kids were actually born from Alexander's attempt at resurrecting his own great, great grandmother, Veronica Ashford. I was going to get a little into the history of this messed-up Ashford family, but all you really need to know is that they're billionaires. Of course they're messed up.
Being the kind of crappy, heartless parent all billionaires probably (haha, "probably") are, Alexander's children eventually turned on him and used him as a testing subject for their own experiments, resulting in the tortured, feral "Nosferatu" they secretly chained in their gothic dungeon, because, again, billionaires. They'd all do it if they could.
His design is alright. It definitely has a Count Orlok vibe, the blindfold is creepy and I like how his body seems like it wants to mutate into one giant hand, but it's otherwise not one of my favorites. This series has established a wilder standard than this already!
Alexia was the first fully intelligent monster we ever faced as a series villain, not only in total control of her body and mind but infected by choice. This preservation of her mental faculties is thanks to a prolonged cryogenic stasis, allowing the Veronica virus to slowly, carefully integrate with its host...and, of course, she threw in some genes from her beloved ants for good measure, believing ant queens to have a sort of biological "godhood."
Alexia's first mutation is pretty cool as far as the game's more humanlike creatures go. That malformed flesh looks simultaneously like an insect exoskeleton and an insect nest is overtaking her body, bits of it rather reminiscent of a paper wasp's architecture. In addition to some control over the mutated ants, Alexia is able to control gigantic plant tentacles growing throughout her laboratory as well as her own blood, which she can actually ignite into flame.
This is also the first explicitly female monster in the game series, if you don't count some of the generic zombies, and it's fairly predictable that they'd give her an idyllically sexy bod... though I remember most reviewers thinking she was just super gross and creepy. Believe it or not, this design was actually too "monstrous" for the average, mainstream nerd of the year 2000.
And if they thought a little bug skin was "creepy," you can imagine how weirded out people were when Alexia mutated into a gigantic insect-woman-plant, with multiple phallus-like arthropod abdomens! There's unfortunately no official artwork of this form, exactly, but there is artwork of this form in its earliest mutation stages:
JUICY!!! Do you like that? Do you like looking at this damned thing and immediately hearing the word "JUICY?" HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!
There are so many ways this design looks like so many kinds of distorted genitalia at once. You always know you've made a masterfully disturbing monster when it's difficult to tell apart from the darkest, deepest depths of internet fetish art.
In the end, that big, gooey blossom turns out to be more of an incubation stage for a smaller, lighter, fully airborne Alexia, unless this form is just a last-ditch effort to save what she can of herself, it's not entirely clear. I love the eyes in her "hair," though; it's more like her head is forming a new, more alien mouth that will eventually swallow up what's left of her human face. This is definitely one I'd have loved to see mutating even further than this, though she also gets a variant form in one of the spin-off games we'll check out soon enough!
Code: Veronica really felt like it was meant to be the end of a grand trilogy. The first game introduced us to a spooky, secret mansion full of nefarious experiments. The second unleashed those experiments upon an entire city and revealed just how vast a conspiracy we were dealing with. Code: Veronica takes us straight up to the top, or so we think, to face the wealthy egomaniacs funding all this nonsense.
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