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Opinion Game Dev Resident Evil Creator Shinji Mikami Talks Zombies in 2020 and How His Games Will Change Post-Pandemic

IbizaPocholo

NeoGAFs Kent Brockman
Dec 1, 2014
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ibiza

When it comes to game development in Japan, unless you’re throwing around names like “Shigeru Miyamoto,” few people will have had more impact on the industry than veteran game director, Shinji Mikami. The man is a bonafide hitmaker, creating not just incredible games but popularizing entire sub-genres into the mainstream. You’ve read all the stories before: After joining Capcom straight out of university, and proving himself on early 16-bit Disney-based properties like Aladdin and Goof Troop, he was entrusted with the Sweet Home remake that eventually transformed into Resident Evil (or, Biohazard, as it is known in Japan). Resident Evil’s world-spanning influence cannot be understated.

Besides adding an entirely new dimension to Capcom’s portfolio, which by that point in its storied history was beginning to tread water with the Street Fighter franchise, Resident Evil—with its 3D characters, striking pre-rendered backgrounds, and tense balance of puzzle-solving and zombie blasting—was a revelation for Capcom as a publisher, launching a massively successful franchise that continues to dominate to this day.

Mikami’s zombie adventure made the survival-horror genre a thing in ways that the Alone In The Dark series—which had released three full games by the time Resident Evil emerged in 1996—never approached. It also spawned a legion of like-minded franchises in the genre. Arguably, without Resident Evil there would be no Silent Hill, Siren, Fatal Frame, Deep Fear, Alien: Isolation, or Dead Space.. Resident Evil reinvented zombies as a mass-market concern, resulting in countless spin-off games, movie franchises, and merchandise.

Incredibly, after directing or producing a successive string of hits—including further Resident Evil entries, Dino Crisis, Devil May Cry, and P.N.03—Mikami somehow turned in his most accomplished game to date, nearly 10 years later, in Resident Evil 4. Resident Evil 4 is Mikami’s defining moment, a 20-hour adventure in which he lets loose his iconic leading man, Leon Kennedy, into a world of hostile Los Ganados (zombie-like non-zombies), and redefined survival horror in the process.

Remember that between 2000 and 2005, Capcom released nine Resident Evil games of varying quality. Some were worthwhile (Resident Evil remake) while others less so (the light-gun games, Outbreak, etc.), but by this point, the survival-horror arena was reaching its saturation point. When Resident Evil 4 arrived it wasn’t a moment too soon, as it not only right the ship, but established a new template by which all other survival-horror games would be judged. In terms of game length alone, you could finish the first four Resident Evils proper in the time it took to complete RE4. Mikami’s opus rewrote the rulebook for the series: You could put items down, and could basically Tetris your inventory to make everything fit.

Of course, the change of scenery from the by-then tired Umbrella saga, and the move away from proper zombies was also a sea change for the series. Resident Evil 4 showed that you could stick to the formula, and yet change the conventions. Typewriter ribbons (although not typewriters) were done away with, and while Leon Kennedy didn’t suddenly turn into Dante from Devil May Cry, he still came bearing new tricks. A new about-face 180 spin, as well as the revamped over-the-shoulder aiming and shooting—while not quite Gears Of War-tier—meshed perfectly with the new action-horror pacing. The inclusion of The Merchant and his ever-expanding cloak of upgrades was a welcome addition to the otherwise standard staples of the series. Resident Evil 4 offered both quantity and quality, and as admirably as Resident Evil 5 and 6 tried to innovate, they lacked the Mikami touch.

Although Mikami’s final project for Capcom was the polarizing, low-budget brawler, God Hand—created by Capcom’s short-lived boutique development team, Clover Studio—he somehow resurfaced revitalized and energized at Platinum Games with Vanquish, the dizzying and electric action game for Xbox 360 and PS3. After collaborating with Grasshopper Manufacture on Shadows Of The Damned, Mikami set the stage for his third act, establishing Tango Gameworks in 2010, spending the next four years on his survival-horror comeback, The Evil Within. With Mikami’s long legacy of games behind him, and with Tango’s upcoming GhostWire: Tokyo in the works, IGN caught up with the icon to talk about game development, Die Hard, kung-fu movies, modern horror films, COVID-19, eagle crests, and survival-horror in daylight.

Check the link for more.
 

KOS MOS

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Nov 2, 2018
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Not gonna lie, it's pretty much why I am not playing games like the last of us and resident evil right now. Especially the last of us with it's fireflies vs government plot point. There is far too much hate going around already, so it's not the sort of story I would enjoy playing at this point in time.
 

-Arcadia-

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Aug 20, 2019
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For what it’s worth, I’m more interested in viral stories than ever before. Having had a little taste of it culturally, the fear and subject matter resonate so much more.

I’d actually like to see a game tackle a grounded, realistic interpretation of this, heavily based on Corona. For example, if it was Resident Evil, it’d be fun to start the game in everyday life as the virus spreads, as symptoms start to show, and just have that slow march from normalcy to uncertainty to dread to chaos.

However, it may be too sensitive for some people. Personally, I don’t buy into that — people die every day, and murder is a major gameplay mechanic, but the subject probably will be a little taboo.
 

Aidah

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All his answers are good. Big fan of this legend.

Also:
"IGN: Regarding GhostWire, by this point in your career you know how to effectively scare people, so what is your design process like now? Do you start with an original idea, or is it a strictly collaborative process?

SM: We started with the idea that the director [Ikumi Nakamura] had and the idea that she wanted to make."

Then she unexpectedly left after getting a bit of social media fame. Sounds pretty dumb.
 
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SUPERGGK

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I love games directed by Shinji Mikami. Resident evil 4 is my favourite game of all time. His games have superb pacing and great replayability. I also loved The evil within too. So I strongly believe that he should direct more games and not just help creating them under the direction of other people. I strongly believe that if he directed more and more games he can create another masterpiece like Re4. But I don't think that helping other directors or working under the direction or ideas of other new people from his studio is going to turn out a masterpiece. Some people are just gifted. Like Miyazaki and Kojima I believe that Mikami is a great director and should direct more games. Then his studio and he will earn well deserved respect like From Software and Kojima Productions.
 

SushiReese

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Didn't he said that evil within is his last game? Look how much better ew2 was without him
But EW2 only hardly achieved half of the EW1 sales and basically tanked the series commercially. The fanbase was pretty divisive towards Evil Within 2, some like its world-building and better cinematic storytelling,some hates its open-world design and claimed that it lost the charm of RE4 style of combat.
 

-YFC-

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May 13, 2020
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Didn't he said that evil within is his last game? Look how much better ew2 was without him
Yeah it wasn't better. It had sandbox gameplay that nobody asked for and it absolutely was a poor fit for a horror game, it was much more action packed and it was less scary.
EW1 was perfect. A much tougher game with nice ammo management, tough enemies and a genuine horror feel to it. If it only didn't have that stupid letterbox screen.
 
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rofif

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Yeah it wasn't better. It had sandbox gameplay that nobody asked for and it absolutely was a poor fit for a horror game, it was much more action packed and it was less scary.
EW1 was perfect. A much tougher game with nice ammo management, tough enemies and a genuine horror feel to it. If it only didn't have that stupid letterbox screen.
I really wanted to love ew1 but it was too long, clunky and just slow and anoying. EW2 story is just so much more emotional. And it's not entirely sandbox. It has some hubs but that's about it. The gameplay is refined and can be played as stealth or action.
I think that objectively ew2 is miles better but subjectively I can see why some prefer ew1.
It's not perfect but it tried many new things. It sold poorly because ew1 left a poor taste in some overhyped customers that expected re4 remake
 
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Harry Tung

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I hope Mikami has more Evil Within in store. The franchise is too good to die after just two entries. TEW 3 would be awesome on next gen consoles. If it's being directed by the man himself, it would be even more awesome.
 

Aggelos

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I love this guy... I love Mikami
IGN: David Bowie once went on his Sound + VIsion tour to play the hits one more time and never again. Do you ever feel like “This is the last one?,” meaning your last survival-horror game?

SM: [Laughs]: I’ve felt this way a lot. Speaking for myself I was done with survival-horror after the first Resident Evil.


IGN: What are your feelings on remakes? Capcom has spent the past few years remaking the original Resident Evil games, having remade RE1 and RE2. But the rumor is that now they’re moving on to remaking Resident Evil 4. How do you feel about that?

SM: I saw a video of the Resident Evil 2 Remake and I thought it was very good. I think they’re going to continue to remake these games since they’re selling well.


IGN: Resident Evil 4 has been ported to multiple consoles multiple times, but some developers are very adamant that certain games are perfect just the way they are. Is it safe to assume you don’t have any issues with seeing your, some would say, ultimate work remade by a new team?

SM: As long as it turns out good I have no issues with it.




People have been going apeshit (and will continue ) with reactions like -> "OMG a remake of RE2, Oh my f*cking God a remake of RE3, OMG a remake of RE4, or Code:Veronica remake please, OMG I'm gonna die..... Oh my gaaawwd, Sweet Jesus.... "
while Mikami goes like "OK whatever.... I'm done with RE games long ago, so it doesn't mean diddly-shit to me... Don't care anymore..."
What a great guy. What a Boss.

I'm not rooting anymore for people who go bananas with Capcom's long-lasting milking and exploitation of the RE series (with spin-offs, remakes and whatnot). I want you to know that, so that you won't bear a grudge on me.
Once you're with the group of people who played RE1 back in 1996 and loved it, and then went on with the successful sequels that marked a glorious arc of progress in the series' history, along comes a point in time where you say "OK, I'm done with this whole shebang, the series doesn't mean diddly shit to me anymore. Don't care anymore. So long and goodbye!"
 
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dan76

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I don't know why he has this thing about nurturing talent, just direct! The Evil Within 2 was more polished but wasn't a patch on the first game in terms of pacing, enemy encounters and bosses. Mikami is a master of pacing, one of the most difficult things to get right in a game.

Hopefully he's stepped in and taken over direction of Ghost Wire. The game sounds promising but I'm not sure what type of game it will be. Sounds like a mix of stuff with a bit of horror thrown in (?).
 

Neff

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If Beth doesn't give him all the time and money he wants to make his Die Hard-like game then they are literally insane

But EW2 only hardly achieved half of the EW1 sales and basically tanked the series commercially. The fanbase was pretty divisive towards Evil Within 2, some like its world-building and better cinematic storytelling,some hates its open-world design and claimed that it lost the charm of RE4 style of combat.

I think Bethesda tried to have their cake and eat it by adding popular elements to the mix in favour of recruiting new players, but like you say, TEW2 fractured the fanbase of 1.

2 is a good game, but it was just too much of a departure. I missed the combat variety and furious pace of the original- there was never a dull moment. TEW2 has more than its share of dull moments, and if you want to be thorough (and you'll miss good stuff if you aren't) then the game is a real drag. TEW1 flirted with SH influences, TEW2 actively pursues them and stalls as a result. Kidman was ace, though.
 
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Jayjayhd34

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Oct 22, 2018
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Wow and not a single peep or mention of George Floyd honoring? Cancel him!!!!!!! :p

On a serious note - I love Shinji Mikami - Evil Within is highly underrated, one of my favorite horror games of this gen both 1 and 2.

Only just discovered evil within cant believe this slipped under my radar, really enjoying it.
 
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Harry Tung

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Hopefully he's stepped in and taken over direction of Ghost Wire. The game sounds promising but I'm not sure what type of game it will be. Sounds like a mix of stuff with a bit of horror thrown in (?).

Reading the interview it seems as he hints that could be the case. Or it's my wishful thinking. I never understood why Ikumi Nakamura left in the middle of the production but hopefully she left on good terms. I really hope Mikami has taken over the reigns now. He needs to show the world once more why he is one of the worlds best game directors.
 
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