Capcom’s venerable Resident Evil franchise has just celebrated its 18th anniversary in Japan and the U.S., with the game first shambling into shops in late March 1996. Since then, the series has gone on to sell over 50 million units worldwide, with the original game itself spawning countless spin-offs and instilling the survival horror franchise on the mainstream consciousness. In short, it’s Capcom’s most successful IP to date, surpassing even Street Fighter.
However, there's much more to RE1 than initially meets the eye. For example, did you know that the zombie romp went through a myriad of development prototypes before Shinji Mikami and co settled on the quintessential zombie romp that we know and love today? Or perhaps that it spawned the series' first comic book? The list goes on.
With that in mind, we've cobbled together 5 things you may not know about Resident Evil. Enjoy.
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It was originally an FPS
During the very early stages of development, Capcom actually conceived Resident Evil as a first-person shooter. While still adhering to the monster-filled mansion premise that the final version adopter, the fact it was a FPS would have fundamentally offered an entirely new experience -- whether or not it would have paid off remains a mystery. However, Mikami-san abandoned the idea as it wasn’t to his satisfaction.
Barry and Rebecca were originally Gelzer and Dewey
Before burly Barry and naive Rebecca graced the mansion halls, Capcom had planned for two other heroes to accompany Chris and Jill. Dewey, a slim african-american based on Eddie Murphy and the comic relief of the game, and the slightly more idiosyncratic Gelzer, a half-human half-cyborg hulk of a man. Both characters were ditched fairly early in development and replaced by Barry and Rebecca. However, Dewey lived on - in name at least - with the addition of Bravo Team pilot Edward Dewey, and traces of his personality were inherited in the Resident Evil: Outbreak survivor, Jim. As for Gelzer, he’s sadly confined to the halls of history.
Resident Evil spawned the series’ first ever comic book
Resident Evil generated numerous comic books over the years, the most prolific of which are probably the Wild Storms comics from the late 90s. However, the original game actually produced the series’ first comic effort, in the form of a prequel effort given away as a pre-order bonus for Resident Evil in the U.S. The story focuses on Richard Aiken of Bravo Team’s struggle through the mansion prior to the arrival of the Alphas, and touches on numerous plot points including Albert Wesker’s eventual betrayal of the S.T.A.R.S. and Edward Dewey’s demise. Furthermore, the cover art - featuring a veiny, Shotgun-wielding chap thought to be Chris Redfield - is the same as the U.S. and European box art for Resident Evil, and is believed to be based on the events of this prequel story.
Resident Evil Dash was the first idea for a sequel, not RE2
As mentioned in our Resident Evil History article five years ago, Capcom originally conceived an entirely new game for its follow-up to Resident Evil -- Biohazard Dash. This isn’t to be confused with the first build of Resident Evil 2 -- colloquially known as Resident Evil 1.5 among fans - that was scrapped after being around 60-80 per cent complete, but an all-new title completely disparate from the outbreak in Raccoon City. The game was set a few months after the destruction of the Spencer Estate, and saw Chris and Jill battling plant-like creatures around the crumbling ruins of the mansion and its surrounding grounds. Dash was planned in 1996 but didn’t last too long, as Shinji Mikami soon shelved the idea and begun work on the first build of RE2.
Japanese voice, real-time weapon change considered in development
During the game’s development, creator Mikami-san had originally planned to include full Japanese voice overs in the game. The idea was eventually abandoned, and thus all versions of Resident Evil featured the gloriously hammy dialogue we’ve come to know and love. Not only that, but at one stage, characters were able to switch weapons instantaneously - presumably using the shoulder buttons - as there’s video footage depicting Chris doing just that. For some reason though, this was scrapped, though it certainly would have resulted in far less trips to the inventory screen during those heated combat moments.
Got any trivia to share on Biohazard/Resident Evil? Sound off in the comments section below.