The Resident Evil franchise has a storied and well-documented history, but here’s something that you might not know: development on Capcom’s campy horror game originally began on the Super NES.
While visiting Capcom for our recent cover story on Mega Man 11, we chatted with director Koji Oda, who was originally hired to work at Capcom in 1991 on games like Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts and The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse.
“Honestly, I feel like I joined the game industry at the best time,” says Oda. “Typically, games would take half a year and no longer than a year to develop, so I feel like I was able to take part in a lot of different projects. It’s not that well known, but before Resident Evil went to the PlayStation, I was working on it for the Super NES.”
Resident Evil originally began development as a spiritual sequel to the NES horror game Sweet Home, which many consider to be the original survival horror game. However, when Sony’s PlayStation released in late 1994, it became a quick success, and Capcom’s management deiced to take advantage of the new console’s power.
“This was back before the name Resident Evil had even been assigned to it,” says Oda. “The codename for this was literally just ‘horror game.’ On the SNES, we were working with limited hard drive space, so it’s not like we could dump a movie in there. If we had actually completed it on the SNES, I’m sure it would have been considerably different. For example, it was originally set in a place that had nothing to do with reality – more of a hellish place.”
For more on the history of Resident Evil, read our retrospective on the development of Sweet Home.