Resident Evil 4: RetroPerspective
Decaying through the generations
Capcom are masters of the undead, survival and horror genre, from Dino Crisis, Dead rising and the biggest by far Biohazard or Resident Evil as it is known here in the west. From its Saturn/PS1 origins where it was not quite the vanguard of 3D survival horror, a movement claimed by Alone in the Dark which was released 4 years prior in 1992 by French company Infogrames better known as Atari nowadays. Even though it did not create the Polygonal characters on static backdrop genre of that PC pioneer it did advance and popularise it.
The origins go back pre-millennium to 1999 and before we knew the world would not actually end and cash-points did not randomly start spewing money. Its long & troubled development with multiple versions scrapped, until the final one we know of today was released. As a PS2 designed title from the start it still looked & performed better on the Gamecube which was, of course, a much more powerful device, and Nintendo’s last bleeding edge machine.It also had time during its protracted gestation period to give birth to a new franchise of its own. Starting off continuing the same fixed camera views of previous titles just lavished in 100% polygon construction. Now director, Shinji Mikami, wanted a cool, action hero and after trips to Europe to gather information for the Gothic, architecture this idea was ultimately spun off into the Devil May Cry series taking Dante with it. The Capcom cross influence was ever present here with another title in Onimusha influencing Kobayashi-san with the titles new direction. A game which was designed to be a full Japanese historic ninja Biohazard, given its working title of Sengoku Biohazard telling you all you need to know. It predates all of the titles mentioned in addition to its debut console itself.
The shift from previous titles simplified path could have caused them performance issues but instead they pushed the hardware on the Gamecube as hard as any other 3rd or even 1st party ever could. This was all pre MT engine and as such was still back in the days when engines or really the tools and codebase were all created around the individual title. This had complications in its cross platform release of 2 consoles and a PC version in the first few years and is one of the last games from Capcom before the Multi-threaded engine took over the company’s game releases. Used in the PS3,X360 and even the PC and latest now-gen remasters. The Gamecube’s bespoke engine did get used in other titles like PN03 and the Wii version along with Dead Rising:Chop till you drop but it was largely unique and created for the Gamecube hardware and game direction of which the Wii was merely an extension of that design.
Learn more about the game, engine and influence in the full video below! Why not check out our other Retro articles and more on the site and channel.