People who played Resident Evil 2 on PlayStation will undoubtedly remember its two-disc format. With Leon’s story on one disc and Claire’s on the other, the two-disc system not only highlighted the game’s zapping feature (in which the actions of one character impact the story of another) but made the game feel larger than most other titles.
The funny thing is that Resident Evil 2 wasn’t meant to be a two-disc game. In fact, the team could have, and intended to, fit the entire game on one disc. The decision to add the second disc was only made after a crucial error was discovered at the very last minute by software engineer Yasuhiro Anpo.
“Anpo told me there was a problem. But before he could explain, I actually hung up on him,” said Resident Evil 2 producer Shinji Mikami in an upcoming book on the series from Alex Aniel. “Anpo eventually came over to my desk, where he told me that Resident Evil 2 would require two discs instead of just one.”
It seems that the problem was that someone had miscalculated how much space the game’s audio would take up. It was seemingly a simple miscalculation, but the end result was that it was no longer possible to fit Resident Evil 2 on one disc. This came as especially bad news to Mikami who would now have to explain why the game’s already tight budget was going to have to be expanded in order to make up for this oversight.
At that point, Capcom had to decide whether to let the team work to fix its mistake or to just produce an extra disc. The company ultimately felt that the team was so far behind and so far over budget that it would just be easier for everyone to add the second disc and get the game on shelves.
While fans may argue that the game’s two-disc format actually helped sell the title as something much grander and greater than the original, the truth of the matter is that game director Hideki Kamiya still apologizes for the error to this day and considers it to be a sign of his inexperience at that point in his career. Of course, it’s not like that’s the biggest setback that Resident Evil 2 suffered during development. At one point, the entire project was scrapped after the initial version of the game was nearly completed. Resident Evil 4 suffered through similar setbacks, but it all worked out in the end as both of those games went on to change horror gaming and inspire a new generation of horror masterminds.
Of course, the recent Resident Evil 2 remake manages to pack it all into one disc, but don’t take that to mean that it doesn’t recreate the full experience.