It’s a cliché and a hackneyed expression, but I feel like I’m getting old.
In 1996, the first Resident Evil caused us all to shit our pants just a little bit for the first time while enjoying a Playstation game. Sixteen years have given us sequels, prequels, remakes, side stories, spin-offs, movies, comics and action figures.
It will all come to a thrilling head on October 2 when Resident Evil 6 launches for the Playstation 3 and Xbox 360. Capcom is planning a big-ass bash for the event, and gamers everywhere are invited.
Along with the game are special Anthology (PS3) and Archives (360) editions which will collect just about every major entry in the series. For the sake of this article, I’m going to be taking this week and next to look back on every game included in each collection. Strap yourselves in and “enter the world of survival horror.”
Resident Evil/Resident Evil: Director’s Cut
Original Release Date: March 30, 1996
Included in Resident Evil 6 Anthology
Capcom was one company who jumped on board immediately with Sony’s entrance into the world of video games. Originally meant as a remake to an earlier NES game known as Sweet Home, Shinji Mikami crafted the story of a special ops team sent to investigate a series of “bizarre” murders in a small town known as Raccoon City. Of course, the pharmaceutical company known as Umbrella had a secret lab underneath the mansion at the source of the attacks, and the results of the experiments gone wrong have started running amok through the mansion.
Who the hell DOESN’T remember the first time that scene happened? In 2012, a blocky, polygonal zombie dog crashing through overly triangular shards of glass is borderline archaic. Back then, it was beginning of a tension-filled course through the mansion’s three levels, a separate guardhouse and finally the lab underneath. What made it that much more terrifying was that this was not open season on zombies; if you shot everything in sight and didn’t conserve ammo, you were fucked. End of story. While there were plenty of jump-and-get-scared moments, a constant sense of tension filled you the first time you would play through, wondering what the hell was behind that next door and if you had enough bullets to survive whatever might be.
We got to meet the original Alpha Team cast – your choice between Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine was your choice between brawn and brains. Chris could absorb more damage while Jill was able to pick locks. Your actions as either character decided the fate of your partners, as well as how the final battle with the Tyrant would play out. If you needed space in your inventory, boxes next to the typewriters where you saved your progress would allow you to drop off and pick up at various locations throughout the game. This always worked out well if you knew something was nearby that would cost you some ammo and possibly some healing items, like those motherfucking Hunters who STILL show up in my dreams to this day.
Capcom had itself a critical and commercial success, and wanted to fast-track a sequel. Unfortunately, it was taking longer than expected so they decided to give fans who were waiting for almost two years a small holdover. Resident Evil: Director’s Cut was released in September of 1997, promising more gore, uncut scenes and a playable demo of Resident Evil 2. We got our demo, but the “added content” was really just rearranging item and enemy placement along with some camera angles. A lot of people bought it simply for the RE2 sample, myself included. By the time RE2 was out and everyone had embraced Sony’s new Dual Analog controller, another reissue – Director’s Cut: Dual Shock Edition (almost starting to sound like Street Fighter) was available, which added a brand new orchestrated soundtrack. By now, Resident Evil has been ported to the Sega Saturn, PC and Nintendo DS after almost making it to the Game Boy Color…and that’s not even counting the incredible remake on the Nintendo Gamecube, which unfortunately will never be able on a non-Nintendo system. Capcom had practically invented a genre, Alone in the Dark notwithstanding, and what followed arguably turned the entire momentum of the video game industry in Sony’s favor