Resident Evil: Recalling Capcom’s Original Survival Horror

introduce

Tokuro Fujiwara doesn’t play video games; when he walked into the studio to apply for a job as a product planner, he didn’t even know that Konami was a game developer, which he had heard from college recruiters. However, Fujiwara is good at game development. After Konami entered the industry, Fujiwara moved to Capcom, where he created Ghosts’n Goblins and Bionic Commando, and then started other 8 classics such as Strider, DuckTales and Mega Man 2.

However, Fujiwara’s most important contribution to the gaming industry may be Nintendo’s first role-playing game that has never been officially released outside of Japan. Fujiwara’s project is called Sweet Home, which sounds like an obscure game; it is adapted from a low-cost Japanese horror movie and is an early experiment in video game horror. Despite this, “Sweet House” is still very popular and continues to inspire the “Resident Evil” series and the entire survival horror genre.

Movie horror

Movie horror

At some point in the late 1980s, Capcom began discussions with Japanese film company Itami Productions to make a game based on the upcoming movie Sweet Home. This bloody horror film tells the story of a small group of documentary filmmakers breaking into the abandoned country house of the famous artist Mamiya Ichiro. According to legend, 30 years ago, Ichiro had several precious murals hidden somewhere in his home, and the fictional film crew hoped to uncover these lost treasures for a documentary. Unfortunately, a mysterious ghost trapped the staff in the house of the late artist, triggering a series of supernatural events that eventually led to their deaths.

Before the film premiere, Capcom sent Fujiwara to visit the set and talk to the film director. Fujiwara and his team used the reference materials from this visit to create many objects and environments in the game. However, when it comes to scripts, Fujiwara takes some freedom, often elaborating on story elements that are only implied in the movie.

For example, at some point in the movie, the fictitious documentary director stumbled upon a small grave. The staff then discovered that the grave belonged to Ichiro’s infant son, who unfortunately died when he accidentally fell into the furnace. Ichiro’s wife was destroyed by this incident, committed suicide and began to haunt their home.

This plot point did not develop further in the movie, but in the game, Fujiwara added a series of collectible diary entries to expand the narrative. These diaries explain how Ichirō’s wife was driven crazy after her child died, and how she continued to lure other young children to let them die so that her son could have playmates in the afterlife. Crowded with premature souls, Ichiro’s house eventually became a hot spot for supernatural activities.

In the late 1980s, it was unprecedented for video games to expand film narratives in this way. Most games of that era would be lucky if they could accurately convey the main beats of the film they were adapting, let alone embellish the narrative. On the other hand, Fujiwara knew that the game could do more than they expected, and this effort to explore the limits of the game medium can be seen in every element of the Sweet Home design.

Afraid of 8-bitless

Afraid of 8-bitless

Since Fujiwara’s game is adapted from the movie, the development of the story is relatively easy. However, Fujiwara had almost no reference points when designing the gameplay of Sweet Home. Some early PC games used horror themes, such as Nostromo and 3D Monster Maze, but games rarely provided the depressive atmosphere Fujiwara wanted. In 2003, Fujiwara told Japan Game Magazine continue He hopes that Sweet Home’s gameplay is an interesting combination of unconventional concepts and tries to do things that the industry has never seen before.

Even by today’s standards, many of the game concepts of “Sweet House” still sound fresh. Players control five different heroes as they explore Ichirō’s mansion and participate in random turn-based RPG encounters. However, unlike most role-playing games, monsters do not drop money or items. On the contrary, Fujiwara believes that it would be more interesting if players collect important story items in the world and then use these items to open up new areas-this game system later became the main content of the survival horror genre.

Players can also divide their heroes into teams of up to three people, but this means that a team will always lack at least one member. Characters also have special items that give them unique abilities. For example, one character has a lighter that can burn the ropes blocking the corridors and doorways, while another character has a first aid kit that can eliminate state diseases. Due to the permanent death system, if party members start to die, the difficulty will be greatly increased. However, Sweet Home remembers those who sacrificed themselves for the greater good, and provides one of five different endings based on the player’s behavior throughout the game.

One of the most impressive features of Sweet Home is the successful sale of horror experiences on Nintendo’s 8-bit console. When the player explores the mansion, the furniture will suddenly move to attack them, ghosts can be seen flying out of the hall from the corner of the screen, and the distorted animal sounds will echo on the blood-stained walls of the mansion. By today’s standards, the picture of “Sweet House” seems rough, but when players first came into contact with this game two and a half years ago, many of them were afraid to play the game in the dark. Fujiwara accomplished his goal: no one has ever seen something like a sweet home.

Reign of terror

Reign of terror

Sweet Home was released for Nintendo’s Famicom in Japan in 1989, and received widespread acclaim. The official trailer of the movie actually helped promote the game, and many critics believe this game is a better product.

Unfortunately, RPG was not confirmed in the United States at the time, and Nintendo’s strict distribution guidelines showed a preference for child-friendly content, so Capcom decided not to localize games for NES in the Western market. Despite this decision, the legacy of Sweet Home will be felt all over the world.

Many years later, after Sony’s first PlayStation console was released, Fujiwara still liked his work in “Sweet House”. Now a producer at Capcom, Fujiwara feels it is time for the company to transform Sweet Home into a new franchise with updated console technology. He handed this project to a creative young director named Shinji Mikami.

Resident Evil—as it was later called—was groundbreaking for many reasons, and deserves a place in the gaming hall of fame. However, many of the most iconic elements of “Resident Evil”, including mansion settings, multiple protagonist’s special items, environmental puzzles, scattered notes, storytelling, limited inventory item management, and even the door loading screen are all in Sweet exhibit. Family. Resident Evil-and the entire horror genre-owes this long-forgotten 8-bit game a blood debt, and it has no right to be as good as it is now.


This feature covering the history of the game will continue to intensify the crisis, initially appearing in the 282th issue of Game Informer.