Resident Evil Director Triggers Debate Over the Appeal of Classic Resident Evil Games

Shinji Mikami feels "embarrassed" by the praise for classic Resident Evil games, but are the original Resident Evil games more than the sum of their limitations?

Resident Evil
Photo: Capcom

In an extensive video interview, the legendary Shinji Mikami (whose directing credits include Resident Evil, The Evil Within, Resident Evil 4, and more) spoke about his career, influences, and the horror gaming genre at large. It’s a fascinating session that we highly recommend you check out (which you can do right here) if you’re at all interested in any of those topics.

However, there’s one particular moment in the interview that has caught the attention of many horror gaming fans, including Silent Hill: Homecoming and Her Story writer, Sam Barlow:

If you’re interested in the full context of that quote, you can jump to about 13 minutes into the video interview, but the basic summary is that Mikami feels slightly embarrassed by those who praise the original Resident Evil‘s fixed camera angles and tank controls. Why? Well, Mikami explains that those design decisions were really just workarounds to the technical limitations of that era. He even goes so far as to say that he feels like he got his “revenge” for those concepts in Resident Evil 4, which featured a third-person camera system and looser controls.

That statement is certainly innocent enough, but it touches upon a debate that we’ve weighed in on in the past: the battle between old-school Resident Evil fans, Resident Evil 4 fans, and fans of first-person Resident Evil titles.

For the record, we think that it’s perfectly fine (perhaps even encouraged) if you’re a fan of every style of Resident Evil game, but this is a debate we’ve talked about before. In fact, I previously called the original Resident Evil remake the gold standard of video game remakes for the way that it successfully realized the potential of the original game while updating its core concepts for a more modern time.

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While I also love Resident Evil 4 and the recent Resident Evil remakes that utilize a similar gameplay style, we’ve pointed out in the past that Resident Evil 4 did gradually shift the horror genre towards a more action-oriented style of design before games like Amnesia helped popularize a new take on more traditional horror gaming concepts.

Maybe that’s why some fans are reacting negatively to this quote. At a time when the “main” Resident Evil games seem to be advancing the first-person style of Resident Evil 7 and the Resident Evil remakes invoke the design of Resident Evil 4 (with a dash of old-school Resident Evil tossed in for flavor), the perception of those “classic” Resident Evil games has changed slightly. While Barlow himself suggests his next project invokes that style, there doesn’t seem to be much room in the modern industry for those games.

So what do you think? Is the design of old-school Resident Evil games simply outdated or is there merit to that style that goes beyond the limitations that inspired it? Simply put, would you play a modern Resident Evil game with tank controls, fixed camera angles, and those other early design tropes? Let us know in the comments below.