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Words: James McMahon
We've all been there. Deep into the bowels of a video game when we should have been studying. For almost 25 years, Capcom's survival-horror phenomenon Resident Evil has provided an unsettling distraction to schoolwork, dissertations, work presentations and all kinds of other academic minded activities.
Well, no longer! What follows is the A-Z of Resident Evil, a fun and educational tool that can help you learn while also shooting zombies in the face. Grab yourself a green herb and sing with us: "A, B, C. Easy as AGH, AGH, AGHHHHHHH..."
There's been conflict between those that want Resident Evil to be a slow, creeping, minimally armed survival-horror franchise (most fans), and those who want it to be a frantic bulletstorm (mostly Capcom) for years now.
"Looking at the marketing data [for survival horror games]" says Resident Evil series producer Masachika Kawata, "the market is small, compared to the number of units Call of Duty and all those action games sell. A survival horror Resident Evil doesn't seem like it'd be able to sell those kinds of numbers."
And yet shortly after saying this came the release of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, one of the best survival-horror games ever. We're confused. Are you?
Thanks to translation issues and some ropey voice acting, Resident Evil's S.T.A.R.S. weapons specialist Barry Burton was a cult hero from the word go. "That was a close one! A second late, you would've fit nicely into a sandwich," says our Baz in 1996's Resident Evil after saving Jill Valentine from a plummeting ceiling. And so this series' most meme-able moment was born.
Capcom later paid tribute to said moment by naming an eatery Jill's Sandwiches in the first game in their other zombie franchise, 2006's Dead Rising.
There's all manner of ways to play Resident Evil with your mates now, and yet it wasn't until Resident Evil 5 in 2009 that a core game in the series allowed you to play a campaign in co-op. It's not wildly known that multiplayer was always part of the Resident Evil plan. "The partner's role was to do various actions and responses to the enemies, traps, and puzzles," said series co-creator Shinji Mikami of the co-op that was initially planned for Resident Evil way back in 1996. "But the plan was scrapped due to hardware limitations."
The location of the derelict plantation where the Baker family - from the series-resurrecting Resident Evil 7: Biohazard - call their home. Needs a tidy.
Sticking with Resident Evil 7: Biohazard for a moment. Eveline is a biological weapon masquerading as a living, breathing, 10-year-old girl, who comes to Dulvey and causes a whole load of mayhem. Think Lily from EastEnders but, like, even more terrifying. No, really.
The animated series. Marvel comics. Novels. Cosplay. Japan's cool Shibuya district even hosts a (surprisingly camp) Resident Evil-themed café. With 92 million games sold and a film franchise that's the most successful video game adaptation ever, there's no question about it: Resident Evil defines the word franchise.
Tucked away down Flower Street, next to the Racoon Police Station, is Racoon City's premier gun shop. Well, we say this, but it's not like we've been to all of them. Shop around, y'know? Look on Tripadvisor or something.
It's no secret that it was a rocky road for Capcom in creating Resident Evil 4. Several aborted attempts took place before arriving at the winning formula, one of which featured an antagonist called 'Hook Man' who stalked Leon S. Kennedy around a haunted castle. Capcom got so far as airing a demo featuring the character at E3 2003, and you can see ol' hooky in the TGS trailer, above.
You can't save your game, at least in early outings in the series, without having one of these. Who would have thought that a fresh ink cartridge - not, say, a bazooka - would be one of the survival-horror genre's most sought-after items...
Since the first, eponymous movie in 2002, Ukrainian actress Milla Jovovich has played Alice - a specially created character who exists only within the franchise's cinematic timeline - in every Resident Evil movie.
Married to series director Paul W.S. Anderson since 2009, the couple have every reason to maintain a happy home: despite almost universal critical derision, the six-film series has grossed a quite remarkable $1.2 billion worldwide.
By appearing in both Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 4, rookie cop turned government agent Leon makes a strong claim for being the series' best character. He's certainly the one with the nicest, floppiest fringe. Deep down, Leon is a lover not a fighter, ready and willing to leap into battle to defend his on-off antihero girlfriend Ada Wong whenever it's required.
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Capcom have experimented with Resident Evil shooters for years, with varying results. The very worst has to be the North American release of 2000's Resident Evil Survivor, which, owing to the tragedy of the Columbine School shooting on April 20th, 1999, was released into the world... without any light gun compatibility.
Nobody has had a more important part to play in Resident Evil's rise-and-rise than the series' stalwart director/producer Shinji Mikami. It's often forgotten that Mikami, who now runs Toyko-based studio Tango Gameworks - who last brought you 2017's The Evil Within 2 - only got the Resident Evil job on account of him having a low threshold for fear. "People who aren't afraid of anything don't understand what's frightening," said Capcom elder Kiyoshi Kurosawa of Mikami's appointment. "In my view, you can't make a horror game if you don't have any fear."
Directed by the late, great George A. Romero, 1968's Night of the Living Dead may well be the most influential zombie movie ever made. It certainly made its mark on the Resident Evil-verse, with Romero directing a Japanese TV short for Resident Evil 2 in 1998. The American director was first in line to direct the first RE movie in 2000, too. Sadly he didn't get the gig. Why? Legend has it that George's pitched script was too gory...
As supervisor during Resident Evil 2's troubled production, Okamoto was responsible for drafting in professional scriptwriter Noboru Sugimura to save the game's messy story. Later on, Okamoto and Sugimura would form the now-defunct Capcom writer's studio Flagship, working on the likes of Clock Tower 3, Dino Crisis 2 and 3, as well as the first three Onimusha games.
2005's Resident Evil 4 took many risks en route to being the best game in the series (right?). One was the removal of the series staple, zombies, and the subsequent introduction of Ganado, people who had been infected - courtesy of the European pagan cult Los Illuminados - by parasitic arthropods called Plaga. Bloody 'orrible they are.
Umbrella co-founder Dr James Marcus was a total rotter, even going so far as to use his own children in his warped biological experiments. His worst creation is undoubtably the Queen Leech, a horrible, writhing hermaphrodite leech from 2002's Resident Evil Zero that can mimic Dr Marcus if it chooses to.
If you've ever wondered where Resident Evil's most famous locale is based (spoiler: was), it's Arklay County in the American Midwest. Bonus fact: the city is based on Montreal, Quebec, only with zombies. Just wanted to clarify that last fact in lieu of any Montreal tourist board employees reading this.
When Capcom designer and director Tokuro Fujiwara adapted Kiyoshi Kurosawa's 1989 J-horror movie Sweet Home for the Nintendo Famicom, few could have predicted it would start a chain of events that would ultimately lead to the creation of Resident Evil. With a release on the incoming PlayStation in mind, Fujirama asked Shinji Mikami to create a new horror game, utilising the survival-horror elements of his old one. And lo! A phenomenon was born!
Otherwise known as the Tyrant virus, a man-made mutagenic plague that turns the infected into zombies... or worse.
Founded in 1968, pharmaceutical giant-cum-top-secret-cult-like-biological-weapons-dealer the Umbrella Corporation serves as the Resident Evil series' principal antagonist. Bizarrely, an actual Chinese pharmaceutical company - named Shanghai Ruilan Bao Hu San Biotech Limited - was found in 2019 to be using a logo not a zillion miles from Umbrella's. Which is unfortunate.
Exclusivity deals with Sony prevented it from being named as such, but 2000's Resident Evil - Code: Veronica, originally for the SEGA Dreamcast, is widely viewed by Resident Evil fans as the true third game in the series' core story arc. It's a brilliant title that was subsequently ported to the PlayStation 2 and GameCube as Code: Veronica X, and received an HD release on PS3 and Xbox 360 in 2011.
It wasn't just Resident Evil 4 which endured a troubled gestation process. Before Resident Evil 2, there was what's come to be known as Resident Evil 1.5, an aborted attempt at following up the 1996 original - in 2013, it was leaked onto the internet at a 60-80% state of completion. Instead of Claire Redfield, the game originally featured one Elza Walker, a motorcycle-riding student then enrolled as Raccoon City University. She didn't make the cut. Oh Elza, we barely knew you.
Resident Evil 2's relentlessly pursuing, fedora- and raincoat-clad Tyrant (aka Mr X; see also: T for T-virus) is a mighty and terrifying foe. There's a mod in which you can reskin him as Thomas the Tank Engine though, which in truth is perhaps even more frightening. And then there's the skimpy swimming trunks. Shudder.
Or boat. Or cruise ship. Or submarine. Capcom are obsessed with setting Resident Evil games on nautical devices. There's (deep breath) Resident Evil - Code: Veronica (2000), Resident Evil: Gaiden (2001), Resident Evil: Dead Aim (2003), Resident Evil 5 (2009), Resident Evil: Revelations (2012), Resident Evil 6 (2013), Resident Evil 7: Biohazard (2017)...
Follow the author on Twitter - and give GAMINGbible a follow while you're there, too. Resident Evil 3 (remake) releases on Friday April 3 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and PC, and you can check out our review of the game here.
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