RESIDENT EVIL Retrospective: Twenty Years Ago, The Mansion Incident Occurred

Today is July 24, 2018, and fans of the Resident Evil franchise would know that back in 1998, the events of the Mansion Incident occurred, where the world was introduced to the Spencer Mansion and the horrors the lurked within. 

The original Resident Evil was released by Capcom for the PlayStation 1 back in 1996. Players were introduced to Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine, who were, back then, still unaware of Umbrella's biological experiments. Although Resident Evil popularized the survival-horror genre, it was Alone in the Dark that pioneered the formula.

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Before the game's release, Japanese developer Capcom commissioned Shinji Mikami to create a remake of the horror game, Sweet Home, which is a game set in a haunted mansion in the middle of the forest. Ironically, Mikami had no experience with horror games as his previous works with Capcom included Disney licensed games such as Goof Troop. During the development of the game, Mikami saw the opportunity of creating an entirely new title that was inspired by the setting of Sweet Home and thus, Resident Evil was born. 

Initially, Mikami wanted the game to feature a first-person perspective to put players in the forefront of the game. However, technical limitations at the time prevented him from pushing through with this idea. He then took inspiration from Alone in the Dark and developed Resident Evil with the familiar tank-controls with the camera fixed on certain angles and the results couldn't have been better. 

Due to the fixed cameras, the player's view was restricted on some points, which heightened the fear factor as you won't really know what's behind every corner. I remembered the traumatizing times when I was running along the mansion and unexpectedly bumping into a zombie as I turned into a corner. I still remember that exact moment as if it happened yesterday.  

Resident Evil also became infamous due to the bad, and I say the extremely bad voice acting. At the time, Capcom in Japan just hired any English-speaking voice actors they could find to bring life to their characters. Given that the team were Japanese, they were not familiar with how English is naturally spoken, which resulted in the cheesy voice acting we got so far. Just check out this hilarious compilation by YouTuber GarlandTheGreat:

I was still a kid when Resident Evil came out, and the fear overwhelmed me so much that I wasn't able to mind the cheesy voice acting until later on. However, when I re-played the game, I found that the bad dialogue and poor voice work contributed to the creepiness factor as it presented a displacement of reality,  where the tone of their voice did not make sense in the life-threatening situation the characters are in, but maybe that's just me. 

Of course, the success of Resident Evil gave way to sequels and multiple ports and versions. Among all the games in the Resident Evil franchise, the original game was the one with the most iterations such as various ports to other platforms, a remake, and a remaster. 

The year 2002, gaming technology made a tremendous leap from what it was in 1996, and Mikami realized that this is the perfect time to remake the original game - the way he intended it to be in the first place and thus, Resident Evil Remake was born. RE Remake still retained the essence of the original game. The storyline remained the same with the addition of the Trevor family story, which gave us Lisa, the daughter of George Trevor, who is the mansion's architect and became one of Umbrella's test subjects. After years of experimentation, Lisa transformed into the indestructible horrifying monster that would stalk players in the remake. Moreover, Crimson Heads were also introduced, which were mainly zombies on steroids if the player failed to decapitate its head or burn its body after killing them for the first time. 

The remake also made drastic improvements with the game's visuals, and thanks to the remaster, it still holds up until today. In my opinion, Resident Evil Remake is the pinnacle of the classic Resident Evil formula. The game was able to update its technical components while retaining the mechanics that made it successful in the first place. However, due to the weak sales of the game, Capcom realized that the classic formula is no longer working and decided to shake things up a bit, which resulted to the critically-acclaimed Resident Evil 4, but hey, that's a story for another day. 

Out of all the games in the Resident Evil franchise, I still find myself drawn towards the original game and the remake. There is just something about the concept of a mansion in the middle of the forest that gets to me. I remember the first time I entered the mansion and encountered zombies, I was so confused and wondered what happened to the family that lived there and how the monsters came to be. Of course, after playing the game, I discovered the real cause of the outbreak and realized that this is just the beginning of the fight against bio-organic weapons. 

It's been twenty-two years since the release of the original Resident Evil, and the franchise is still able to remain relevant in a highly competitive industry. That's not to say that the series didn't have its up and downs since, for the longest time, it suffered an identity crisis as Capcom wasn't sure whether it wants the franchise to retain its horror roots, or to evolve into the trendier fast-paced action game that was reflected in, the newer titles. 

The release of Resident Evil 7 may have steered the game in the right direction, although it was still controversial because the game is played in first-person. Right now, we don't know what Capcom has in store for Resident Evil in the future. However, that doesn't matter right now as the fandom is focused on the upcoming remake of Resident Evil 2, which will launch on January 29, 2019, and based on what was released so far, I think this game will be an absolute success. 

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What was your fondest memory of Resident Evil? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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