Resident Evil 2 Director Admits He “Messed Up in a Big Way”
Hideki Kamiya is a man with a storied career in video games. Straight from his own studio, Platinum Games, his directorial credit lies on The Wonderful 101 and, more famously, the tightly wound ball of hack n’ slash insanity, Bayonetta.
But a sizable chunk of Hideki’s resume comes from his time working at Capcom. During his tenure at the Osaka, Japan centered company, he coordinated critical and cult hits such as Viewtiful Joe, Okami, and the original Devil May Cry. Once upon a time ago, Hideki even worked under Shinji Mikami as a system planner for the very first Resident Evil.
That fabled gig led to a project I could honestly give Hideki an open-mouthed smooch over if the timing were right and he was open to it. Yes, I could only be talking about my most personally affecting, favorite fucking game of all time: Resident Evil 2.
As perfect as I’ll loudly and embarrassingly try to convince you the game is, Kamiya admits that, behind-the-scenes, RE2 was a veritable shit circus. “I messed up in a big way. As a result of saying okay to everything that came up, it turned out horrible. We had to scrap what we had spent a year and a half making." The scrapped version of the game, nearly sixty percent completed, would later gain infamy among fans under the moniker Resident Evil 1.5 (learn more about this unreleased gem and the survival horror community’s attempts to resuscitate it hereabouts).
Originally slated for May of 1997, restarting the sequel meant the public wouldn’t play the finalized product until January of 1998. Though opting to take a step back from the game at first, series creator Mikami eventually donned a producing role on the game in order to bang it into shape (creative frictions were said to spark up between Mikami and Kamiya on a consistent basis).
His internal pressures didn’t end there, however. "So everything that didn’t work out was my fault as director,” Kamiya plainly admits. “Resident Evil 2 was receiving attention as one of Capcom’s new big titles, so the news quickly spread throughout the company. I felt like people were staring at me in the company cafeteria and saying, ‘That’s him! That’s the guy who ruined Resident Evil 2!' It was a shock, and very hard.”
Fifteen years after RE2’s release, and almost universal success, Hideki is able to earnestly disseminate his past mistakes. “I gave a lot of thought to what had gone wrong,” said Hideki. “I was making decisions without vision, and amidst all the pressures, I had lowered my criteria for giving approval. And, above all, it was important how I personally suffered the disastrous results of that.”
As a stringent believer in the second draft always being better, I’m glad Hideki was given the opportunity to create the game we know today. I’m confident that if nine-year-old Kevin never got his hands on Resident Evil 2’s N64 port, I would never have launched into my lifelong love affair with video games. Its playability and presentation taught me to appreciate design aesthetic; its brutal difficulty and obtuse puzzles forced critical thinking; its inventory system schooled me in the ways of conservation; its abundance of narrative-rich files made me hungry for the written word…
Some kids had Mario. Other kids had Sonic. I had Claire Redfield and Leon Scott Kennedy. I had Resident Evil 2, a game which, in late night retrospect, was likely one of the most formative experiences in my life. Every year, I make it a point to play through the game’s A and B scenarios fully in tribute. I don’t plan on ever breaking that tradition. So, thank you, Hideki. Thank you for slogging through the bullshit and taking one on the chin. Thank you for making my favorite game of all time.