Resident Evil was definitely the first game I remember being so engrossing that I was just as happy watching other people play it as I was playing it myself. Though it seems tame today when compared to, say, The Last of Us, when it came out it was more than able to make me fill my boxer-briefs with fear piddle. That first time the Cerberus busts through the windows, the scream of the Hunters, and that freakin' giant snake were all important milestones in my personal development as an eternal 12-year-old girl.
Since those days the series has had its ups and downs. I've not remained a dedicated fan but I do check in on it every once in a while. There are some interesting bits of trivia hanging around the edges that you might not be aware of. Such as...
Two Other Franchises Started Out as Resident Evil Sequels: Resident Evil 4 had one of the more painful developmental process in the series. Capcom was still adapting to the Playstation 2 hardware, and designer Shinji Mikami was increasingly adding things that were wandering farther and farther afield from what the franchise was known for. He asked permission from Capcom higher ups to switch the game to an all new titles, but received a curt no in response.
Undaunted, Mikami spent three months slowly working on his team, member by member, to convince them that they had a whole new action adventure title on their hands and not a traditional Resident Evil. The extra work managed to sway the higher ups and thw blockbuster series Devil May Cry games was born in addition to the eventual RE4.
The game that eventually became Onimusha also grew out of an attempt to make a Resident Evil game. This one though was set in feudal Japan using ninjas. Yes, the world missed out on ninja zombies. Somehow that seems impossible.
It's Full of Queen References: Someone in Capcom is a big fan of Queen. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but a rather large number of references to the band do tend to show up in the games.
Claire Redfield sports two jackets with nods to Queen songs. In Resident Evil 2 her jacket says "Made in Heaven", which is the name of the 15th and final album the band made before the death of Freddie Mercury. Her brother Chris had a similar one in the first game. In Code Veronica she has a new jacket with the words "Let Me Live", which was track three from the same album.
Later on, in Resident Evil Zero Billy Coen has a prominent tattoo that says "Mother Love", yet another track from the album. It should be noted that Freddie Mercury died of complications from AIDS, a highly transmittable disease that many still feel was secretly released by sinister powers as the Umbrella Corporation did with their bio-weapons. Coen himself battles a giant blood-sucking leach infested with a man-made virus, which may again be an allegory for the unfortunate demise of Mercury.
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The Series is Based on a Japanese Horror Film: When you think about Resident Evil you probably assume that it was inspired by George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, and you're half-right. Shinji Mikami did change the antagonists to zombies after seeing the Romero classic, but originally the monsters were ghosts.
See, in 1989 there was a Kiyoshi Kurosawa horror flick called Sweet Home. It involved a crew entering the haunted residence of a famed muralist hoping to restore his last works and film a documentary about their experience, only to end up fighting against vengeful poltergeists. Capcom published a video game version the same year.
What did Sweet Home: The Video Game have? Well, each of the characters has a special item or ability like Chris and Jill do in the first game, including someone with a lighter and someone who is good with locks. Scattered files and memos are used as storytelling devices. There are save rooms where you can store items, and of course there's the whole mansion thing. Basically Resident Evil is the spiritual successor to Sweet Home, making it one of the very few licensed games in the history of gaming that managed to accomplish something good.
Speaking of George Romero...
George Romero Directed the Resident Evil 2 Commercials: As I said, George Romero's work cannot be overstated when it comes to inspiring Resident Evil. Not that demonic ghosts wouldn't have been fun (See first entry), but back in 1996 the idea of reviving zombies in a mainstream entertainment vehicle was a novel concept. I know... hard to imagine these days.
So it isn't surprising that Romero might be asked direct a couple of live-action commercials for Resident Evil 2. These are terrible, of course, but everything involving live-action and videos games at this point in time was terrible. Props to Romero for making it at least less terrible.
Capcom wanted Romero to helm the Resident Evil film adaptation, and fans were none too happy when it was discovered that Paul Anderson would be holding the reins instead. Then in 2005 Romero made Land of the Dead and we all owed Anderson an apology.
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The Saturn Version on the First Game is the Best: I was one of those people that got gypped from purchasing a Saturn (I had a Virtual Boy too... and someone how I grew up to be a video game journalist.) Ever since I finally sold the system off I've been a little touchy about it, but there's no argument that the RE port kicked major ass.
First, you got a second Tyrant, and if you had already played the game on Playstation it must have been quite a pants-soiling moment when it burst out of its stasis tube unexpectedly. Second off all, you got to fight a zombie version of Albert Wesker in the Battle Game, and considering what a prick he is you can only call it wish fulfillment. Sad that most gamers never get the chance to do it.