It’s a big month for Resident Evil fans with the arrival of Village, the latest main entry in Capcom’s long-running and most popular series. So, how did we get here? Here’s a brief look back at 25 years of Resident Evil history.
The gestation of the first Resident Evil – or Biohazard in its native Japan – dates back to 1989, and the game Sweet Home. Released for Nintendo’s Family Computer (aka the NES), and never westernised, it was created by Capcom’s Tokuro Fujiwara and based on a horror film. Arguably the first survival horror game was born.
In 1993, Fujiwara tasked his crew with creating a new game, incorporating elements from Sweet Home. Come 1996, the first Resident Evil was unleashed, first on PlayStation and subsequently on SEGA’s Saturn. Its tale of a group of mid-western Americans battling evil pharmaceutical giant the Umbrella Corporation resonated, and a sequel was quickly locked into development.
January of 1998 gave us Resident Evil 2, again on PlayStation, with other formats following as the game’s reputation grew. Set just two months after the original game’s events, players were tasked with getting protagonists Claire Redfield and Leon S. Kennedy the heck out of Raccoon City, as a pharmaceutically-fuelled zombie outbreak overruns the place.
Meanwhile, a year earlier, prescient German company Constantin Films purchased the movie rights to Resident Evil. All sounded great, with horror maestro George A. Romero brought in to direct and write a script, but this never eventuated. When the second game hit, the producers went back to the drawing board…
Just a year after the second game’s arrival, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis was unleashed, again initially on PlayStation. Timeline-wise it was set alongside events of RE2, focussing on Jill Valentine and the titular Nemesis – a creature that relentlessly pursues Valentine throughout the game, much like the Terminator in T2: Judgment Day.
From here, the Resident Evil family tree branches out, with several spinoffs and the numerical sequence becoming clouded – for example, Village may be codenamed with an eight, yet it’s considered the 12th main series entry. The spinoffs included everything from action-oriented Game Boy Colour outing Resident Evil Gaiden to light gun shooters such as Resident Evil Survivor and Resident Evil Survivor 2 – Code: Veronica, the latter of which hit both PS2 and the arcades. Its name came from a main series game that was initially a Dreamcast exclusive.
2002 was big, with prequel game Resident Evil Zero released, and the movie finally hitting the world’s screens, starring Milla Jovovich as new character Alice. Critics didn’t like it, but fans sure did, with it grossing over $100 million, and spawning five sequels and counting. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is due later this year.
Eager to harness the online capabilities of the PlayStation 2, 2003 saw Capcom release the first multiplayer RE in Outbreak. It was so successful that it spawned an add-on the following year, before Resident Evil 4‘s arrival on GameCube in 2005.
Like most developers, Capcom couldn’t resist the Wii’s pull, and rail shooter The Umbrella Chronicles had us waggling in 2007. It would be two years until the next main game, Resident Evil 5, would land, this time debuting on PS3 and Xbox 360.
After a dalliance with Nintendo’s 3DS handheld, core series fans were finally rewarded in 2012 with Resident Evil 6, again initially on PS3 and Xbox One. It took 600-plus people to make it, but received mixed reviews as it was more shooter than survival horror. Those who missed the series’ scarier roots were thrown a bone in 2015, with the episodic Resident Evil Revelations 2.
It would be 2017 when RE next came up for major release air, with survival horror at the fore in first-person experience Resident Evil 7: Biohazard – or Biohazard 7: Resident Evil in Japan. Things have been buzzing in the RE camp since, with two remakes and an online multiplayer experience hitting.
Now it’s time for Resident Evil Village, with RE7’s Ethan returning as protagonist. He’s whisked away to a strange European village in order to rescue his daughter, but naturally – or supernaturally – it won’t be an easy task…
Resident Evil Village launches on PS5, PS4 and Xbox on May 7. Pre-order now at JB Hi-Fi.