From Page to Pixel: Parasite Eve
By Jessica Brister On 22 May, 2014 At 04:09 PM | Categorized As Editorials, Featured, Old School Otaku | With 0 Comments

No GravatarMany people have complained over the years to the fact that movies and games that are taken from books almost never turn out to be as good as the original source.  Happily, there are some gems that are hidden in the crowd of mediocrity.  Parasite Eve is an older Playstation game that was actually the sequel to a popular Japanese horror novel of the same title.  The book and game are tied tightly together, and they demonstrate that one really can have an extremely well done game based from literature.

Parasite Eve, the novel, by Hideaki Sena is a Japanese horror novel with many science fiction elements.  It was originally published in 1996, but people who couldn’t read in Japanese had to wait to read it until 2005 when it was finally translated into English.  The story is heavily based on science, including biology and genetics.  The book is so technical that it is often confusing to follow, unless the reader has a thorough background in biology.  That’s what makes it such good science fiction, though.  It takes real science and twists it a bit to make a fast-paced story.

Cover Art for Parasite Eve, the novel.

Cover Art for Parasite Eve, the novel.

The story follows Toshiaki Nagishima, a biology and pharmaceutical researcher.  His wife, Kiyomi, has been declared brain dead after a horrible car accident.  However, there is more going on than meets the eye.  The novel presumes that the mitochondria in a human’s cells have been evolving since the days of primordial sludge.  The mitochondria have formed a new life form, called “Eve,” which has now reached a peak in her evolutionary process.  Kiyomi’s body just happens to have the right conditions for Eve to begin to take control.  In fact, Eve is the one responsible for Kiyomi’s car accident in order to be transplanted into others.  Throughout the novel, Eve manipulates the people around her on a cellular level.  Her ultimate goal is to give birth to a child that will be able to chance its genetic code on a whim and there be the perfect life form that will replace humans as the dominate life on earth.

Though the novel sounds scientific and dry, it is actually first and foremost a horror story.  The reader gets suspense, creepy, and downright scary all rolled into one novel.  The science just adds to the realism of the novel.  Since the novel is based in science, the reader gets to wonder: What if this really could happen?  Don’t we have mitochondria in all of our cells?  What if someone’s body was taken over at the cellular level?  These questions and more make up some of the thematic elements of the story.  It allows the reader to question whether we really know everything about the human body.  Are we even in control of our bodies?  It’s a creepy thought and is one of many that this novel brings to the table.

The novel was so popular that it spawned a video game sequel with the same title.  Though the game takes place in the United States, many of the same elements that made the novel so unique appear in the game.  Parasite Eve is an action-based RPG that also falls into the “survival horror” category.  It was released in 1998 on the original Playstation.  In a sea of traditional RPGs, Parasite Eve was unique in its tone and game play.

Parasite_Eve_Coverart

The story follows Aya Brea, an NYPD cop who just wants to spend a quiet evening at the opera.  Unfortunately, everyone at the opera spontaneously combusts, leaving her and an actress named Melissa alive.  After investigating, Aya finds out that Eve is up to her same old tricks again: She is again trying to create the “Ultimate Being” by manipulating people whose bodies have the right conditions for Eve to flourish.  Aya finds out that her mitochondria is evolving as well, which gives her some pretty awesome powers.  It is up to Aya to go up against Eve to save New York City.

Though having RPG elements, such as leveling up and gaining new powers, the player must also dodge attacks during battle (something that was unique for that time period of RPGs).  Aya develops powers and is able to use those as well.  Battles are chosen more through random encounters, although there are spots that if you walk over, you are guaranteed a battle.  Weapons and armor can be upgraded or replaced as the player explores.  The game play gets a creepy vibe with the genetically altered creatures, although the best part of the game could actually be the cut scene graphics which still look great even after all of this time.  The in-game graphics are a little grainy, but there is nothing like those amazing cut-scenes.

The cut-scenes of this game still look good today.

The cut-scenes of this game still look good today.

It’s hard to imagine that an excellent novel could spawn an excellent game.  There have been so many let-downs with novel to movie that sometimes it’s easy to forget that video game developers can get it right.  However, Parasite Eve remains amazing, regardless of being in print or in pixel.

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