That was kind of fun, but also kind of difficult. The game is so tight with supplies that it emphasizes the survival aspect of survival horror. The backtracking got a little tedious. I can see why this game blew peoples’ minds back then, but I prefer Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis for the PS1 era of the series.
The voice actors apparently used pseudonyms.
One of the Tyrant’s attacks looked like the Shoryuken/Dragon Uppercut from Street Fighter.
I thought I would get graded on my playthrough, like in later RE games. I was expecting a terrible grade for saving so much. I used up almost every ink ribbon.
I wish I’d used my sweet Bazooka more. Next time, Sweetness. Wait for me. ❤
I should have titled this LP “A Girl and Her Bazooka: A Love Story”. XD
This game was harder than 2 and 3 in some ways. The biggest nuisance? Hunters, with their high HP, sheer numbers, and nasty attacks. The Nemesis seems lumbering and borderline fair in comparison.
One big difference between the Hunters’ first appearance and their subsequent ones? They can decapitate you with no windup animation. In later games, it’s obviously telegraphed. An example of how games communicate with their players.
The game has certainly aged, and I consider the remake to be the superior game, but it is kind of fun to go back to one of the original versions.
I kind of miss how later games do not have polygonal models for items that you can examine.
The scariest monsters are the tarantulas (code name: Web Spinner) and the Chimeras. The zombies and dogs (code name: Cerberus) can have nasty surprises, too. The dogs especially are fast and vicious. I find them annoying in earlier Resident Evil games.
Experimenting on tarantulas was the result of Umbrella trying to weaponize arthropods. The experiments were abandoned when they proved… difficult to control. You don’t say.
For the monsters of the first game, Capcom clearly tapped into some primal fears (vicious dogs, tarantulas, sharks, and snakes). These kinds of animals are also frequently used in horror movies and creature features.
Umbrella is basically an earthbound version of Weyland-Yutani. For now.
Despite the cheesy parts of the game, Umbrella is effectively established as the evil villain for the series.
An aspect of Director’s Cut that is controversial is the music. The music in the original version is much better. Some of the music in DC is almost comical in comparison, and plummets to its nadir with the infamous theme for the mansion basement. The original version is much creepier. The DC version is an attack by a demented horn section.
The person who allegedly composed the music for the DC version and later Capcom games (such as Onimusha) is Mamoru Samuragochi. He has a degenerative hearing condition that left him deaf by age thirty-five. He initially claimed to continue making his own music, but was in fact using a ghost composer as far back as 1996.
The voice acting is infamous and is a tale unto itself. Capcom did not have the budget or manpower to write the game’s script in English, so the script was written in Japanese first, then translated into English. The result is some dialog that can actually be hard to comprehend.
The script has some lines that have gone down in infamy. I wish I had included more direct quotes. The most famous lines come from Barry, such as when he rescues Jill from a collapsing ceiling trap; he then quips that she almost became a “Jill sandwich”. I didn’t know for years that was accidentally innuendo on Barry’s part. XD
Capcom hired English speakers who lived in Japan at the time for their voiceover cast (Jill’s VA may have still been in high school). But when they recorded their lines, Capcom did not give them any direction whatsoever, nor did they give the actors the context of their lines, nor the identity of the other characters in the scene. This may be a sample of how voice acting and direction was simply done back then for console games.
Barry’s VA, Barry Gjerde, has done many roles before and after Resident Evil 1. He voiced Cervantes in the English console versions of Soul Edge, and even did voices for RE ripoff Countdown Vampires. I hope that game gets Retsupurae’d one day.
I’m actually a bit disappointed that Gjerde has never been called upon to reprise his role.
One element that RE1 establishes is the arsenal of weaponry that you can get. The game introduced a steady succession of guns with varying power, clip size, and fire rate. My favorite is the Bazooka, known as the Grenade Launcher in later games. It’s powerful and versatile, but slow.
The Creation of Resident Evil
In 1993, RE originally began life as a spiritual successor of Sweet Home, a top-down horror RPG based on the film of the same name. Tokuro Fujiwara proposed the project and hired his protege Shinji Mikami for the game despite, and because of, his dislike of being scared.
He worked on the project alone for six months. The new game was going to be in full 3D and feature a first-person perspective, but the project shifted from its original inspiration to become a game about zombies after Mikami was inspired by an Italian horror movie called Zombie.
Similarities Between RE and Sweet Home
The mansion setting
Limited inventory slots and item management
Transitional screens featuring doors
Journals and notes that provide info on the games’ backstories
Multiple endings depending on how many characters survive at the end of the game
Characters with unique abilities and items such as a lighter and a lockpick; there is also a character who has a medkit, which was probably the inspiration for Rebecca Chambers
Capcom originally wanted the game to be co-op, but the feature was removed because “technically… [it] wasn’t good enough”.
When Mikami discovered the game Alone in the Dark, he had the game shift from a first-person view to one with fixed camera angles and prerendered backgrounds. He admitted that their polygonal 3D first-person prototype did not get along very well with the PS1.
There were two characters who were cut from the final game, though images of their in-game character portraits exist on certain prototypes. These cut characters were Dewey, an African-American man who was intended as comic relief, and Gelzer, a cyborg. They were replaced by Rebecca and Barry respectively. The removal of the cyborg helped the game remain more grounded in reality. Cyborgs have yet to work their way into the RE continuity.
Wikipedia says that “An early 1996 preview in Maximum Console magazine featured a graveyard area and a slightly different version of the final boss.” A graveyard was later featured in Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
Japanese voiceovers were recorded but left unused because Mikami found the quality of the performances inadequate. He also thought that it was not realistic for Americans to speak Japanese.
The game was originally expected to sell only 200K copies. It later went on to sell millions, establishing a franchise that would eclipse even Street Fighter as Capcom’s most lucrative series. Wikipedia says that the assorted versions of RE1 have sold over 7.73 million units as of September 2016.
The earliest copies of RE1 were in those long boxes, like many other early PS1 games. This edition of RE1 is somewhat rare now.
I find that the original game’s box art is cheesy. It features a crazy-looking Chris (no Jill) flanked by spiders? This version of Chris has been compared to Ash Williams from Evil Dead, but Chris has never been that silly in canon. Maybe it’s a bit funny considering how crazy and action-oriented the later games get.
The original Japanese box art is much more stark and spooky. It features a bloody eyeball. This is the beginning of the RE series using eyes as a motif of sorts. Several of the games feature eyeballs on their box art or title screens. The title screen of the remake and Resident Evil Revelations feature eyeballs, as does the box art for Revelations. Perhaps it was supposed to signal a return to the series’ roots.
The box art for the remake does feature Jill as she grapples with a zombie. It sets the mood.
One of the crazier ideas that Capcom had was to remove the interconnected item boxes. In complete defiance of logic, you can drop something in a box in one save room, but it’s available in all of the others. Illogical and unrealistic, but it does make the game easier. However, in the GameCube remake, disconnected item boxes made it into the Real Survivor mode.
Resident Evil 0 may also have been influenced by an attempt to make item management a bit more realistic by letting you drop items out of your inventory anywhere.
RE would soon try to have first-person entries with the Survivor games, and flirt with first-person aiming in the main games. The first Survivor was considered one of the worst games in the series, and the second game did not even reach the States; Resident Evil CODE: Veronica features the Linear Launcher, which has a first-person aiming mode; Resident Evil: Dead Aim let you toggle between first and third-person gameplay – the game had a mixed reception; the Chronicles games retold the events of RE1 – CODE: Veronica in an on-rails shooting format; and Resident Evil 4, 5, 6, and Revelations feature rifles that use first-person aiming. Finally, Resident Evil VII: Biohazard is entirely in first-person, bringing the series full circle.
Survivor revealed some details about how Tyrants were created. Umbrella would terrorize teenagers by torturing them because the hormones they produced when frightened were used to make Tyrants. In order to extract their hormones, Umbrella operated on the teens directly on their brain, without anesthesia. One Umbrella employee objected to the lack of anesthesia, but was ignored.
It is theorized that the Tyrants are basically manifestations of dread and terror due to their origins.
Umbrella was just evil. Consider who may have known about this: people like Wesker and William Birkin, both of whom were parents themselves (albeit unknowingly on Wesker’s part). Also consider the low-level employees who may not have known what their bosses were really up to.
While some find this plot point horrifying, others find it too over-the-top edgelord to be taken seriously in trying to establish Umbrella’s evilness.
There are many ports of RE. Here are some of the most interesting ones.
The Sega Saturn port features an unlockable Battle Game. This mode lets the player go through a series of rooms killing enemies from the game with weapons of their choosing. There are two enemies exclusive to this mode: a Tyrant with a golden palette swap… and a zombie version of Wesker. Heheh. There are also some new additions to the regular campaigns: reskins of the Hunters, known as Ticks, and a second Tyrant. This port is said to be the goriest of them all with some exclusive death scenes.
The Windows port is actually uncensored and features the intro in full color instead of black and white. Both Chris and Jill get unlockable weapons and costumes exclusive to them in this port; namely the FN Minimi and MAC-10, respectively. The door loading screens can be skipped with the press of a key.
The Game Boy Color port is infamous for being mostly complete before Capcom pulled the plug on it citing quality concerns. This port is remarkably faithful to the original game; it features almost every room, cutscene, and item. The EPROM cartridge of the game was leaked when an anonymous individual requested $2,000 for the leak in January 2012. The GBC port’s developer, Hot-B, later went on to make Resident Evil Gaiden, a spinoff featuring Barry and Leon on a BOW-infested boat. Hmm… Something to look into more in the future? 😉
Resident Evil: Deadly Silence is a 10th anniversary port for the Nintendo DS. It features promotional artwork done by Shinkiro. He drew the cool box art for this version.
The unlicensed Chinese port of RE1… for the NES. Chinese companies of questionable scruples create plenty of bootlegs for blockbuster games that came out long after the NES’ prime, mostly to the derision of gamers. The Chinese version of Biohazard does recreate several rooms from the original game; it features Chris and Jill’s portraits; and you still have to manage your inventory, and several of the items and weapons from the main game. The combat model is ripped straight out of Gaiden, as well as the graphics for zombies in the first-person battles. Sounds pretty crazy, but what about the monsters that were not featured in Gaiden? It would seem that the bootleggers did what they could with sprites from other sources. The problem is that most of these new sprites are nowhere near as scary as they should be. The once-mighty and frightening Hunters and Web Spinners now look lumpy and cartoony. It’s kinda humorous. The bootleg skips the Black Tiger boss fight.
Maybe one of the problems with these 8-bit attempts is that they were not enough like Sweet Home.
I said that none of the voice actors and live-action actors were the same, but I was wrong. Wesker had the same actor (Sergio Jones) for both types of cutscenes. Of course Wesker would be the exception.
Capcom had very little budget for hiring actors.
There were several differences between the early and final versions of the game. For example, in one of the beta versions, the infamous L-shaped hallway did not have dogs bursting through the windows. Instead, it had spiders. Eek! [hides]
In the final game, spiders appear in the L-shaped hallway when you return to the Mansion from the Guardhouse. It’s a nasty surprise.
Maybe it was changed because Blue Herbs, which cure you of poison, would not normally be available that early on in the game.
What is your favorite RE game? What is the scariest moment and monster? What is your favorite weapon?