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The Legacy of Resident Evil

The Legacy of Resident Evil - Article

by Evan Norris , posted on 22 March 2016 / 4,886 Views

Twenty years ago today Capcom released the seminal horror game Biohazard in Japan. A week later, a reworked and renamed version would arrive on North American shores under the title Resident Evil. The short and long-term effects of Resident Evil are easily underestimated but they shouldn't be because they really are quite remarkable.

Firstly, the game helped propel Sony's first game console, the PlayStation, into the stratosphere, beating out industry stalwarts Sega and Nintendo. The original Resident Evil, according to Capcom, sold over five million copies. Its subsequent re-releases on PlayStation sold another four million copies.

RE Chris

Secondly, it ushered in a golden age of so-called survival horror. In fact, one of the game's most important contributions to the lexicon of survival horror is the term itself, coined by Capcom to advertise the game. Not only did Resident Evil spawn several video game sequels and remakes, it also inspired games like Clock Tower, Silent Hill, and Capcom's own Dino Crisis.

Thirdly, it birthed a media franchise that includes toys, novels, comic books, animated sequels to Resident Evil games, and five live-action movies (with a sixth due out next year).

RE Jill

Lastly, it codified the rules and mechanics of horror video games for a generation. Drawing inspiration from Infograme's Alone in the Dark, Resident Evil director Shinji Mikami embraced puzzle-solving, static pre-rendered camera views, "tank controls," and a focus on evasion rather than direct conflict with enemies. He contributed to that formula more weapons and a scarcity of much-needed resources and items.

This recipe would continue for roughly a decade until, paradoxically, the Resident Evil franchise re-invented the rules of engagement it had previously established in 1996. The sea change was Resident Evil 4, which redefined survival horror to focus on visceral action gameplay. Direct combat and precision aiming took priority over evasion and restricted fighting abilities. Wide open maps replaced claustrophobic rooms. Ammunition, once scarce, became more plentiful.

RE4

Still, the foundation established by the original Resident Evil in 1996 lives on. Just last year, a remastered version of the GameCube remake of Resident Evil arrived on home consoles and PC. A year earlier, in 2014, Shinji Mikami, who helped father Resident Evil, released The Evil Within, arguing that "there aren't any real survival horror games in the world right now."


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7 Comments
Nautilus (on 22 March 2016)

A genre defining game.Even though Alone in the Dark came before, this was the game that showed there was a market for this type of game, and thus created a whole genre.Not only that, but also gave the basis for every game that came after.RE 1 is without a doubt, a game that should be regarded as one of the most influential of the industry.Not to mention as a timeless game

  • +2
AlfredoTurkey (on 22 March 2016)

RE 1 though CV were amazing. RE4, while good, was a completely different game and IP. Many vets at the time, including myself didn't like nor accept it for this reason alone. RE5 and on were ALL pretty much garbage and a disgrace to the original games.

  • 0
NinjaFox AlfredoTurkey (on 23 March 2016)

You mean you didn't find a fist fight with a Tyrant compelling survival horror? RE6 could be the greatest horror comedy game of all time. I'm convinced Michael Bay consulted on it. -_-

  • +1
Sixteenvolt420 (on 22 March 2016)

I loved 1-4, 0, Code Veronica, and Revelations. I didn't like 5&6, just didn't feel like a Resident Evil game, to me. Here's to hoping that it can someday return to it's former glory. SOMA is probably the best one that i've played in a while. Layers Of Fear was pretty cool, as well.

  • 0
Tabathedfield Sixteenvolt420 (on 22 March 2016)

don't forget P.T., which was the best horror experience that many had since years

  • 0
NinjaFox Sixteenvolt420 (on 23 March 2016)

What I'd like to see RE do is establish that after RE6, every nation on Earth cracked down on bio weapons and eliminated basically every last bit of research and there's not been a single instance in 10 years. Have a new protagonist set somewhere remote like S. America responding to some report and stumble on an underground group working to replicate Umbrella's work. Series staples could cameo or eventually make contact via radio, but it's important to have a new character. Chris, Jill, and Leon have seen so much, they aren't phased by this stuff anymore. The protagonist needs to be as freaked out as the player's conduit to the world.

  • 0
NinjaFox Sixteenvolt420 (on 23 March 2016)

What I'd like to see RE do is establish that after RE6, every nation on Earth cracked down on bio weapons and eliminated basically every last bit of research and there's not been a single instance in 10 years. Have a new protagonist set somewhere remote like S. America responding to some report and stumble on an underground group working to replicate Umbrella's work. Series staples could cameo or eventually make contact via radio, but it's important to have a new character. Chris, Jill, and Leon have seen so much, they aren't phased by this stuff anymore. The protagonist needs to be as freaked out as the player's conduit to the world.

  • 0