Resident Evil Remake’s Poor Sales Upped the Action in RE4
Survival horror just ain’t what it used to be. In Resident Evil’s case — in which its modern titles each and all feature robust amounts of gunplay and even martial arts action (you’d slap me if I told you that during the PS1 era) — a marked shift away from its survival horror roots can be traced back to one pivotal turning point in the franchise’s history.
Series mastermind Shinji Mikami recalls that it was the 2002 Resident Evil remake’s financial failure that goaded him to turn Resident Evil 4 into Die Hard with parasitic, pitchfork-wielding villagers. I understand; I was befuddled by this news, too. The game was lauded as a critical success, after all. But Capcom’s exclusivity deal that locked REmake onto the Gamecube (and, years later, the Wii) might go a long way in explaining the disparity.
“The Resident Evil remake is one of my favorites of the series too,” said Mikami in an interview with IGN initially about a totally different game (The Evil Within). “But it didn’t sell very well. Maybe there weren’t many people ready to accept that. Because of the reaction to the Resident Evil remake, I decided to work more action into Resident Evil 4.”
Had the remake sold well, RE4 would have been a scarier, more horror driven game says Mikami. “With Resident Evil 1, 2, 3, and all the rest of the series beforeResident Evil 4, I was always saying to the staff, ‘Scaring the player is the number one thing.’ But for the first time, in Resident Evil 4, I told the team that fun gameplay is the most important thing… That all came out of the commercial failure of the Resident Evil remake.”
Even after all these years, Shinji is still burned about RE4’s dominance overREmake. “And then of course Resident Evil 4 sold really well. I have kind of a lingering trauma there, because the Resident Evil remake didn’t sell — much more than people would think.”
My, my, our RE creators are having themselves a walk down memory lane as of late. Not too long ago, Hideki Kamiya was reflecting on how he very nearly ruined the hell out of Resident Evil 2 (the game was restarted from scratch at Mikami and team’s insistence even though the original build neared 60% completion). Can’t wait to hear in another decade just what the hell went awry with RE5 and 6. Keep an eye out for that article come 2023.