Resident Evil (1996 video game)
English version cover art
Keiji Inafune (Dual Shock Ver.)
Takashi Niigaki (Dual Shock Ver.)
|Distribution||Optical disc, online distribution|
Resident Evil, originally released in Japan as Bio Hazard (バイオ ハザード Baio Hazādo?), is a survival horror video game developed and released by Capcom originally for the Sony PlayStation in 1996. It was later ported for the Sega Saturn and Microsoft Windows platforms, and re-released for the Nintendo DS and onto the Sony PlayStation Network.
The first installment in the Resident Evil series introduces series mainstays Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine as members of an elite task force known as S.T.A.R.S. At the start of the game, players select one of the two as they investigate the disappearance of their fellow team members on the outskirts of Raccoon City, and become trapped in an old mansion infested with zombies. As players explore the mysterious mansion, they uncover clues and solve puzzles, battling the various monsters along the way. Depending on the player's actions, the game ends with different outcomes.
Originally conceived as a remake of Capcom's earlier horror-themed game Sweet Home, development for the game was directed by Shinji Mikami, who took gameplay design cues from the 1992 game Alone in the Dark. Resident Evil establishes many conventions seen in later games of the series, such as the control scheme, the inventory system, as well as the iconic typewriter-based saving process.
Resident Evil was very well received critically and commercially, and has been credited with starting the modern survival horror genre. Its success spawned a multitude of sequels and spin-offs, starting with 1998's Resident Evil 2. A remake of the first game, simply titled Resident Evil, was released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2002, featuring new graphics, voice acting and many gameplay changes; its direct prequel, Resident Evil Zero, was released that same year using the same game engine. The events of the game were also revisited in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles.
- 1 Gameplay
- 2 Plot
- 3 Development
- 4 Release
- 5 Reception
- 6 Novelization
- 7 Legacy
- 8 References
- 9 External links
The player's character is a member of the Special Tactics And Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) Alpha Team law enforcement task force, who is trapped in a mansion populated by dangerous mutated creatures. The objective of the game is to uncover the mystery of the mansion and ultimately escape alive. The game's graphics consist of real-time 3D polygonal characters and objects, superimposed over pre-rendered backdrops with pre-determined camera angles. The player controls the character by pushing the d-pad or analog stick left or right to rotate the character and then move the character forward or backwards by pushing the d-pad up or down.
To fulfill the game's objective, the player uncovers various documents that provide exposition about the game's narrative, as well as clues that help them solve various puzzles within the mansion. Key items are also available that give the player access to other items or new areas. The player can arm their character with weapons to defend themselves from enemies, although the ammunition available for each firearm is limited and the player must learn to conserve the ammunition they have for situations where they will really need it. To restore the character's health, the player uses first-aid sprays or three types of healing herbs that can be mixed together in different combinations for different healing effects. The carrying capacity of the player is limited depending on the character and items that the player does not wish to carry at the moment can be stored into an item box to be retrieved for later use. To save their progress, the player must pick up an ink ribbon and use it on any of the typewriters scattered through key locations in the game. However, the supply of ink ribbons the player can acquire is limited much like the player's ammo and healing supplies.
Players will encounter various infected creatures as flesh-eating zombies, zombie dogs, giant spiders, and a B.O.W. called "Hunter". The game's final boss is a new type of biological weapon, code-named "Tyrant".
A series of bizarre murders have occurred on the outskirts of Raccoon City, with signs of cannibalism on the victims' remains. The Raccoon Police Department's Special Tactics And Rescue Service (S.T.A.R.S.) are assigned to investigate the murders. S.T.A.R.S. is divided into two teams: Alpha and Bravo. Bravo Team is sent first, but after contact with them is lost, Alpha Team is sent to investigate their disappearance.
Players can choose between the two Alpha Team members Chris Redfield or Jill Valentine, each with their own unique differential abilities. Jill has more firepower and possesses a lock-pick that enables her to access areas and items easily, as well as an inventory large enough to hold up to eight items, while Chris has limited firepower but is more durable in terms of taking damage from enemies, and a smaller inventory that can hold only six items.
The game's supporting characters include Barry Burton, Alpha team's weapons expert who provides Jill with additional firepower; Rebecca Chambers, a surviving member of Bravo team who supports Chris with her medical expertise; Albert Wesker, the captain of STARS and leader of Alpha team; and Brad Vickers, the helicopter pilot who sends transmissions to them as he tries to find them in the helicopter.
Minor characters include Joseph Frost, the sixth member of Alpha team whose sudden death sets the story into motion, Enrico Marini, the leader of Bravo team who gives the player the game's most critical plot twist, Richard Aiken, who gives the player a radio used to receive Brad's transmissions, Kenneth Sullivan, a member of Bravo team killed just after Alpha team arrives, and Forest Speyer, whose corpse is found on the balcony by the player.
The game begins on July 24, 1998 (directly after the events of the prequel game Resident Evil Zero). Alpha team locates Bravo Team's helicopter, but there are no signs of survivors; only a severed hand is found. While searching the area for further clues, Alpha Team is attacked by ferocious dogs, one of which kills one of the team's members, Joseph Frost. Alpha's helicopter pilot, Brad, panics and takes off alone. Pursued by the dogs who killed their colleague, Alpha Team is forced to seek refuge within a nearby mansion, which is believed to be abandoned.
With the dogs roaming outside, the four remaining Alpha Team members (Wesker, Chris, Jill and Barry) are trapped within. Depending on which character is the player, one of the members of Alpha Team is separated from the others during the chase and does not make it to the mansion (Barry if Chris, Chris if Jill). A gunshot rings out, and the player character moves to investigate. At this point, the player takes control of the character and begins to explore the mansion. One of the first discoveries is a member of Bravo Team, Kenneth J. Sullivan, being eaten by a zombie. While searching the mansion, the character finds the other members of Bravo Team, such as Richard Aiken, dying of poison, who gives the character his radio before dying; Forest Speyer, found dead on the balcony; and Enrico Marini, who reveals that one member of the team is a traitor before being shot and killed by an unseen attacker.
The character eventually finds the mansion to be riddled with puzzles, traps, and horrors. Scattered documents suggest that a series of illegal experiments were being undertaken on the property by a clandestine research team, under the authority and supervision of the biomedical company Umbrella Corporation. The creatures roaming the mansion and surrounding region are the results of these experiments, which have exposed the mansion's personnel and various animals and insects to a highly contagious and mutagenic biological agent known as the T-virus.
After navigating a series of underground tunnels, passageways and buildings, the player discovers a secret underground laboratory containing the Umbrella Corporation's experiments, including the Tyrant. In the lab, the player learns that Wesker is a double agent working for Umbrella. Wesker is killed after that by one of the creations. The player finds the other playable character in a cell, put there by Wesker, and manages to get him/her out by activating the self-destruct system. Chris, Jill and the helper character (Rebecca if Chris, Barry if Jill) head for the heliport, but the other two are separated from the player due to more creatures. The player gets up to the heliport and manages to contact Brad and meet the other two survivors there, but they are attacked by the Tyrant, a giant humanoid monster created through prolonged exposure to the T-virus. After the Tyrant is defeated, Chris, Jill and Barry/Rebecca manage to escape the premises in the team helicopter, just as the entire facility is destroyed by explosives through the self-destruct system activated earlier. If the player fails to save both members of his or her team (Jill not saving Chris and Barry dying) or (Chris not saving Jill and Rebecca dying) then the helipad battle will not occur and the game will end upon the player reaching the helicopter.
Resident Evil and its remake are the only entries in the franchise to feature multiple endings, with the difference being how many people the player character saves. There is no possible way in either game to save all four characters, as Barry is presumed dead in Chris' scenario and Rebecca never meets Jill in hers; however, it is confirmed that both of them survived, as Barry is shown in the epilogue of Resident Evil 3, while in the Nintendo 64 version of Resident Evil 2 the player may come find a report about Billy Coen's supposed death that Rebecca filed upon returning to Raccoon City.
- The best endings have the chosen player character, Chris or Jill, save both their partner (Barry if played with Jill, Rebecca if played with Chris) and the other player character, who is imprisoned in a basement cell for most of the game, and destroy the mansion.
- The second endings have the chosen player only save their partner and destroy the mansion.
- The third ending has the chosen player only save the other player character, and the mansion remains intact.
- The worst endings have only the chosen player survive, and the mansion remains intact.
Resident Evil was created by a team of staff members who would later become part of Capcom Production Studio 4. The inspiration for Resident Evil was the earlier Capcom horror game Sweet Home. Shinji Mikami was initially commissioned to make a game set in a haunted mansion like Sweet Home, which Resident Evil was originally intended to be a remake of. Several of the Resident Evil mansion's pre-rendered backdrops were inspired by The Overlook Hotel, the setting for 1980 horror film, The Shining. The game was initially conceived as a first-person shooter, but soon the gameplay system inspired by Alone in the Dark was adopted instead. According to Mikami, the original first-person view "technically it wasn't good enough."
In pre-production, other characters were conceived. Dewey, an African-American man, was intended to perform a comic relief role, while Gelzer, a big cyborg, was a typical "strongman" character. Both were later replaced by Rebecca and Barry, respectively. At this stage of development, a local co-op mode was present, along with different outfits. A prototype made for the 1995 V-Jump Festival presentation in Japan featured real-time weapon changes, with the co-op mode already removed and rudimentary character models and textures. An early 1996 preview in Maximum Console magazine featured a graveyard and a slightly different version of the final boss.
All Japanese releases contain English voice acting with Japanese captions and text. However, Japanese voice performances were also recorded but were left unused, as Mikami found the quality of the performances inadequate. The original Japanese PlayStation version also features a vocal ending theme performed by Fumitaka Fuchigami that is not in any other versions of the game.
Bio Hazard would be renamed for the North America and Europe markets after Chris Kramer, Director of Communications at Capcom, pointed out that it would be impossible to trademark "Biohazard" in the United States. Among others, the 1992 video game Bio-Hazard Battle and the New York punk band Biohazard were already using the name. Capcom therefore decided to run an internal company contest to find a new name. The name Resident Evil was settled upon since the game takes place in a mansion. Interviewed by GamesRadar, Chris Kramer thought the name "was super-cheesy; [I] can't remember what I felt was a better alternative, probably something stupid about zombies– but the rest of the marketing crew loved it and were ultimately able to convince Capcom Japan and Mikami-san that the name fit."
The original PlayStation version of Resident Evil went through several considerable changes between its original Japanese release and its international counterparts. The North American and European versions of the intro were heavily cut from the one featured in the Japanese releases. Shots of mangled corpses, a "Cerberus" zombie dog being shot, and Joseph's death were edited out, as well as scenes featuring the character Chris Redfield smoking a cigarette. Despite these tweaks, the game was ultimately released on the PlayStation as one of the first games to receive the mature rating from the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
In the game itself, the auto-aiming function was disabled and the numbers of ink ribbons found by the player were reduced. Capcom also planned to eliminate the "fourth dimensional" item boxes for the North American version (meaning that any item the player stored in one item box could not be retrieved in another), but they were restored for the released version of the game in North America. This particular game mechanic would resurface in its remake.
In 1995, general manager of CAPCOM Planning Room 3, Yoshiki Okamoto, fielded an idea for another game known as Biohazard Dash, set three years after the events of the first game and centered in and around the destroyed Spencer Mansion (the setting of the original), featuring two new characters who would be fighting against plant-like creatures. However, this idea was soon scrapped in favor of Biohazard 2, a full-blown sequel set in Raccoon City. The reason was that it would have taken too long to develop, which would have pushed back the planned release date of the sequel. As such, the idea was abandoned.
An updated version of Resident Evil for the PlayStation, titled Resident Evil: Director's Cut, was released in September 1997, a year and a half after the original game's release. Director's Cut was produced to compensate for the highly publicized delay of the sequel, Resident Evil 2, and was originally bundled with a playable pre-release demo of that game. The Japanese version of the demo disc also included a pre-release demo of Rockman Neo, the Japanese pre-release demo for Mega Man Legends, and a preview trailer for Breath of Fire III.
The main addition to Director's Cut is an "arranged" version of the game that changes the location of nearly every vital item in the mansion, as well as the enemy placement. The main characters, as well as Rebecca, are given a new wardrobe and the player's handgun is replaced by an improved model where any shot fired has a random chance of decapitating a zombie, killing it instantly. The original version of the game is included as well, along with a new "beginner" mode where the enemies are easier to kill and the amount of ammunition that can be found by the player is doubled. Additionally, the auto-aim function was restored in all modes, though it is not noted in the in-game controls so the player must accidentally stumble upon it.
The North American and European releases of the Director's Cut were marketed as featuring the original, uncensored footage from the Japanese releases. However, the full motion video (FMV) sequences were still censored, and Capcom claimed the omission was the result of a localization mistake made by the developers. The uncensored intro was later offered as a free download from their website. The French and German PAL versions of Director's Cut do feature the uncensored intro FMV in color, however the French and German PAL version lacked the uncensored Kenneth death scene despite having the uncensored introduction FMVs in color. Although the PC version of Resident Evil was not billed as the director's cut version of the game, it is the only version of Resident Evil that has all of the uncensored FMVs, which includes the uncensored introduction, Kenneth's death scene in its entirety, and ending as well.
Dual Shock Ver.
A second release of Director's Cut, known as the Dual Shock Ver., was released in August 1998. The Dual Shock Ver. featured support for the DualShock controller's analog controls and vibration functions, as well as a new symphonic soundtrack, replacing the original soundtrack by Makoto Tomozawa, Koichi Hiroki, and Masami Ueda. The game's symphonic music was originally credited to deaf composer Mamoru Samuragochi. However, he admitted years later to hiring Takashi Niigaki to write the music for the game, for which Samuragochi took full credit. The Japanese Dual Shock Ver. came packaged with a bonus disc that contained downloadable save data and footage of the original Japanese-language version of the opening and ending cutscenes, along with brief gameplay footage of the canceled original version of Resident Evil 2.
In the USA, Resident Evil: Director's Cut Dual Shock Ver. was later released for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable as a downloadable game available from the PlayStation Network. In Japan and Europe, the original Director's Cut was instead made available from the PlayStation Network.
Sega Saturn version
The Sega Saturn version added an unlockable Battle Game minigame in which the player must traverse through a series of rooms from the main game and eliminate all enemies within them with the weapons selected by the player. This minigame features two exclusive enemies not in the main game: a zombie version of Wesker and a gold-colored Tyrant. The player's performance is graded at the end of the minigame. The Japanese version is the most gore-laden of all the platforms; after decapitating a crawling zombie with a kick, the head remains on the floor, and Plant 42 can cut the character before the game over screen. The Saturn version also features exclusive enemy monsters, such as a re-skinned breed of Hunters known as Ticks and a second Tyrant prior to the game's final battle. Exclusive outfits for Jill and Chris were added as well.
The Windows version featured the uncensored footage from the Japanese version, but the opening intro is in full color rather than black and white. Support for 3D accelerators was added as well, allowing for much sharper graphics. Two new unlockable weapons were added, a MAC-10 for Jill and an FN Minimi for Chris. New unlockable outfits for Chris and Jill were added as well.
Unreleased Game Boy Color version
A Game Boy Color version of the game, developed by the Software House HotGen, was supposed to be released in 1999, till Capcom decided to cancel this project citing that the port was poor quality due to the Game Boy's limited hardware. This version contains every room, cutscene, and almost all the items there were present in the original PlayStation version.
In January 2012, an anonymous individual claimed to have an EPROM cartridge of the GBC version and requested $2,000 before he was willing to leak the playable ROM. The goal was met in February and the ROM files containing an unfinished build of the game were subsequently leaked.
In 2002, the game was remade and released for the GameCube under the same name as its original Western and Japanese releases. This was part of an exclusivity agreement between Capcom and Nintendo that spanned three new games. The title includes a variety of new gameplay elements, environments, and story details as well as state of the art visuals. The game was also later ported to Wii in 2008.
A Nintendo DS port titled Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, released in Japan as Biohazard: Deadly Silence (バイオハザード デッドリーサイレンス Baiohazādo Deddorī Sairensu?) was made to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the series. Deadly Silence includes a "Classic Mode", the original game with minimal enhancements and touch-screen support, and a "Rebirth Mode", containing a greater number of enemies and a series of new puzzles that make use of the platform's specifications.
The game makes use of the dual screen display with the top screen used to display the map, along with the player's remaining ammunition and health (determined by the color of the background); while the bottom screen displays the main action, and can be switched to show the player's inventory. The DS version also includes updated play mechanics: the 180-degree turn introduced in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, along with the knife button and tactical reload from Resident Evil 4. The updated controls are applicable to both Classic and Rebirth modes. Dialog and loading screens can now be skipped. The live-action footage was still censored, even in the game's Japanese release; however, the scene showing Kenneth's decapitated head was kept.
In "Rebirth", new puzzles are added that use the system's touch-screen. "Knife Battle" sequences, viewed from a first-person perspective, are also added, in which the player must fend off incoming enemies by swinging the knife via the stylus. One particular puzzle requires the player to resuscitate an injured comrade by blowing into the built-in microphone. The player can also shake off enemies by using the touch screen, performing a melee attack.
The game also includes wireless LAN support for up to four players with two different multiplayer game modes. The first is a cooperative mode in which each player must help each other solve puzzles and escape the mansion together. The other is a competitive mode in which the objective is to get the highest score out of all the players by destroying the most monsters, with the tougher monsters being worth more points. There are three playable multiplayer stages and nine playable characters.
The original PlayStation version Resident Evil was critically acclaimed receiving a very high averaged review rating of 91/100 at Metacritic. Among of those who praised the game was GameSpot, describing it as "one of those rare games that's almost as entertaining to watch as it is to play." Computer Gaming World gave a more mixed review for the Windows version in explaining that they "tried to hate it with its graphic violence, rampant sexism, poor voice acting and use of every horror cliché, however...it's actually fun."
The PlayStation game became a best seller in North America. In total, according to Capcom's Investor Relations website, the original Resident Evil has sold over 5.05 million units. The Director's Cut version, including the Dual Shock edition, sold an additional 3.94 million copies. It was also a bestseller in the UK. The PlayStation and GameCube versions of the game have sold 11 million units in total as of 2013.
Resident Evil was one of the first games to be dubbed a "survival horror". It was ranked as the 91st top game of all time by Next Generation in 1996, for having "successfully redefine[d] the genre which started with Infogrames' Alone in the Dark." Accordingly, Game Informer referred to the original Resident Evil as "one of the most important games of all-time" in 2007. In 2012, Time named it one of the 100 greatest video games of all time. That same year, the game ranked as one of G4tv's top video games of all time for how it has "launched one of the most successful series in gaming history and provided one of its most memorable scares."
In 2004, readers of Retro Gamer voted Resident Evil as the 37th top retro game, with the staff calling it "one of the finest horror-themed games ever" and adding that "full of shocks, surprises and perfectly poor B-movie dialogue, Resident Evil is the gaming equivalent of Night of the Living Dead." It entered the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008 for the "Worst Game Dialogue Ever."
First edition cover
|Author||S. D. Perry|
|October 1, 1998|
|Media type||Print (Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Zero Hour|
|Followed by||Caliban Cove|
Resident Evil: The Umbrella Conspiracy is a 1998 novelization of the game, was written by S. D. Perry as the first book in her series of Resident Evil novels. The novel combines Jill's and Chris scenarios into one narrative and features all five of the main characters (including Barry, Rebecca and Wesker).
The book also takes liberty with some of the original source materials; the most notable difference being the inclusion of an original character named Trent, an insider from Umbrella Corporation who provides Jill with information about the Spencer Mansion prior to the events of the mansion incident. Since the book was written a few years before the Nintendo GameCube remake, the novelization lacks the presence of Lisa Trevor in the mansion. However, the book does allude to the original version of George Trevor's journal from The True Story Behind Bio Hazard, as well as the short story it contained, "Bio Hazard: The Beginning", which involved the disappearance of Chris Redfield's friend, Billy Rabbitson. Another notable difference in the novels is moving the location of Raccoon City from the Midwest to Pennsylvania, apparently about an hour's drive from New York. Overall, despite having been written before the retcon introduced in the Resident Evil remake and Resident Evil Zero, the book still maintains overall similarity to what the story warped into in the early 2000s.
The game's success resulted in a media franchise that has since branched out into comic books, novels and novelizations, sound dramas, a non-canonical series of live-action films and animated sequels to the games, and a variety of associated merchandise, such as action figures. The video game series has become one of Capcom's biggest ever franchises. The events of the game were also revisited in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, originally released for the Wii in 2007.
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Media related to Resident Evil at Wikimedia Commons