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Production Information

Developer: Capcom Production Studio 4
Publishers: Capcom
Platforms: PlayStation, Saturn, PC

Release Dates

Jap: 22 March 1996
USA: 30 March 1996
PAL: 1 August 1996

Title

BIO HAZARD

BIO HAZARD (Resident Evil) is the original entry into the series, and was released in 1996. In 2002 the game was completely remade for Nintendo's GameCube with the game featuring new graphics, features and an upgraded storyline. A directors cut of the 1996 game was also created with new camera angles, costumes and difficulty levels and released shortly before Resident Evil 2 in 1997. The games characters are all of the Raccoon City S.T.A.R.S. team, and their struggles through the Arklay Mansion. Players take control of Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield in their quest to rescue their comrades and escape the mansion.

Plot Synopsis

A recent outburst of bizarre murder incidents in and around Raccoon City has led to panic from the city's citizens. Chief Irons orders the elite S.T.A.R.S. to investigate, and Bravo Team is sent in first. However communications are lost and the next night Alpha Team is dispatched. Lead by Captain Albert Wesker, the team (including Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield) discover the wreckage of the Bravo Team helicopter as well its pilot, Kevin Dooley, killed by something.

From the mist a strange dog attacks and kills Joseph Frost, a member of Alpha Team. Despite a hurried response, Joseph cannot be rescued, and the pack of hounds soon turn their attention to the other members of Alpha Team. As the group is chased through the forest Brad Vickers, operating the helicopter, takes off leaving the depleted S.TA.R.S. alone. They are forced into a large mansion seeking refuge from the monsters outside. But what they encountered outside was only the beginning.

Development History

1996 saw the release of what would become the first mainstream survival horror title on the ever-popular home consoles. The architect behind the project was the then relatively unknown Shinji Mikami, who at Capcom had worked on previous niche titles. The most inspirational force behind his lead project was Sweet Home which bares many similarities to the Resident Evil franchise. However, with the popularity of the new CD based consoles, more became possible, and the ambitions of Mikami spread to creating a genuine horror game. Resident Evil (or Biohazard as it would be called in Japan) was designed to genuinely scare the players and create a terrifying setting in a creepy old mansion.

The uniqueness of Resident Evil lies with its limited ammunition and health packs, as well as the limited inventory space players would find themselves with. Indeed, heroine Jill Valentine has 8 slots for items and weapons, whilst Chris Redfield had a meager 6. Players were encouraged to conserve ammunition and save herbs for emergencies. Going gun-ho would result in quick death as players would soon run out of ammunition. This was a ground-breaking approach to gaming at the time. With horror titles like Doom taking an opposite stance, conserving and saving items was new way of playing, and quickly found a fanbase. As such instead of being all hero-like, players merely had to survive, and soon the game was given the genre title of survival horror.

It soon became apparent, that Resident Evil was not the first game to adopt such a method of playing, and quickly Alone in the Dark was cited as the original survival horror game. Today Alone in the Dark is still sourced as the grandfather of survival horror, but nobody is in any doubt that it was Capcom's zombie filled mansion game that popularized the playing style, and rightly, created the genre.

Versions

Sega Saturn

With the success of the PlayStation version cemented, Capcom decided to port the game over the Sega's console, the Saturn. Technically inferior, Saturn players were rewarded with a host of new features that to this day have only ever appeared on the Saturn version. Thus making the Saturn version highly desirable for collectors.

The first notable addition was the inclusion of a Battle Game. Something that is now commonplace in Resident Evil games, was first seen in the Saturn version. Unlocked upon completion of the main game, Battle Mode see's either Chris or Jill battle through a series of rooms, eliminating the B.O.W.'s inside them. Players would be subsequently graded dependent upon their skills in the rooms. During this Battle Game, a zombie Albert Wesker is fought in the Laboratory, a much quicker zombie and a dangerous one at that. Furthermore, a Gold Tyrant is also encountered during the final stage.

In the main game, the Saturn version adds in the Caves section a new B.O.W. dubbed "Ticks". This breed of Hunter replaces the standard MA-Hunter 121 Alpha for this part of the game. A skinless variant, the Tick has equally damaging attacks and is possibly the creature mentioned in The Keepers Diary. Finally, both Chris and Jill had a new costume each that could be used during the main game.

PC

Capcom also released Resident Evil onto the home PC market. This was a direct port of the PlayStation version and so did not include the Saturn extras. However, there are noteworthy differences between the PC and PlayStation incarnations. The uncensored version of the opening was present, and also in full colour, thus mimicking the Japanese version. This however, was a first for many territories and is the main difference. Also included are new costumes for the characters and new weapons. Chris now has an FN Minimi and Jill sports a MAC-10.

GameBoy Color

Nintendo's much loved handheld console was due to receive a port of the game. However, like many Resident Evil projects, it was scrapped and never released to the general public. However, it paved the way for the creation of Resident Evil Gaiden.

GameCube

A complete remake of the original Resident Evil was headed by Mikami utlizing the graphical prowess of the Nintendo GameCube. Among photorealistic graphics, it bolstered new plot elements and Crimson Heads as a new enemy.

Critical Response

Resident Evil made a significant splash in the gaming world back in 1996. It was considered to be one of, if not the, most terrifying game made at the time, and was praised accordingly. The games graphics especially were something that shone. Using pre-rendered backgrounds, Capcom were able to detail the interiors of the mansion to an extent that had never been seen before without compromising on the gameplay aspects.The music and sound effects were also praised heavily. Taking full advantage of the CD platform, stereo sound FX were maximized to compliment the impressive orchestral score. All of which when combined created a disturbing and creepy atmosphere.

Such was the influence that Resident Evil had on the industry in 1996, many predicted that this would be the first in not only Resident Evil games, but also clones and copies of the formula. Both predictions would be true, and a majorly successful franchise would follow.

Despite this, the game was criticized due to the terrible voice acting and actual acting during the opening cinematic. Clearly inspired by B horror movies, the acting is now ironically considered classic by many fans, and all adds to the experience of a haunted mansion. A lot of the dialog used during the game is now loved and cherished by both the fans and Capcom and is referenced time to time.

Secrets / Glitches

Alternate Costumes

All Versions:
Complete the standard game and save your partner to unlock the Closet Key. This can be used in the Dressing Room on the 1F Mansion. Chris and Jill each have a different costume they can play in throughout the remainder of the game.

Saturn Version:
During the opening cinematic hold the L and R triggers on controller 2 at the ''July 1998'' screen. While holding them down, press START on controller 1. This will activate the alternative costumes for Jill and Chris.

Battle Game (Saturn Only)

Complete the main game once and Battle Game will be available on the title screen.

Special Weapons

PSX, Saturn, Director's Cut [Easy and Normal]:

Complete the game in under three hours without saving to unlock the Rocket Launcher with infinite ammunition. It will be in your item box when a new game starts.

PC Version:

Complete the game in under three hours without saving to unlock the FN Minimi Machine Gun for Chris and the MAC-10 Pistol for Jill. These guns are not available in some versions of the PC port, and need to be hacked out of the files using a hex editor if the player desires to use them. In the versions where these guns are not available, the Rocket Launcher will be substituted.

Unlimited Colt Python Ammunition:

Director's Cut [Advanced]:

Complete the game and save all your partners.

Trivia

  • Shinji Mikami's main inspiration for Resident Evil was Sweet Home, a Famicom horror RPG also developed by Capcom.
  • The piano music played in the mansion is Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven.
  • The phrase "Jill Sandwich" used by Barry Burton early in the game is used as a shop in Capcoms other zombie game, Dead Rising.
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