With the establishment of video game classification groups in the 1990s and early 2000s, Resident Evil has been regionally edited to overcove restrictions. Due to the differing restrictions by Japan's "CERO"; Europe's "PEGI" and North America's "ESRB", Capcom has in recent years begun to self-censor its content to avoid having to undergo regional editing. A common reason for editing is footage of decapitation; in earlier games the animation was removed in regions opposed to it, with later titles simply not using decapitations but using trick camera work to imply it happened.
The original Japanese version of the game, BIOHAZARD, featured a violent live-action opening film in full color. In the voice-over regarding the deaths in the forest, images of dead bodies are shown before Joseph Frost finds a severed hand in the grass. He is brutally attacked by dogs, the scene showing as the creatures rip through his body. As the other characters fired on the creatures, they were shown being struck with blood spraying.
However, in the U.S. and European releases of the game, this was all censored. The color was washed out making the video black and white and during the voice-over, newspaper clippings are shown talking about the deaths instead. When Joseph finds the severed hand, the scene cuts off before showing the bloodied stump and details of Joseph's attack from the dogs are removed. The Cerberus being struck by gunfire is also removed. Despite claims of being uncensored, the Director's Cut release did not change the opening, though it was said this was due to a localization error.
Depictions of smoking were also removed from U.S. and European releases of the game. In the original opening, the cast introduction shows Chris Redfield lighting a cigarette and smoking. In the censored version, this is replaced instead with scenes of his character from the actual opening movie pasted over the image. Chris can be seen smoking again in his Bad Ending, where he is the only survivor, though the end is removed where it actually shows him lighting and smoking a cigarette.
In uncensored versions, the scene where Jill Valentine or Chris find the first zombie who is eating the remains of Kenneth J. Sullivan, a brief scene showing the zombie drop Kenneth's head can be seen. This is removed in U.S. and European censored versions, though Kenneth's body is still decapitated on the floor. This scene was restored in Resident Evil: Deadly Silence.
Nothing was censored in the GameCube remake of the title, however its worth noting that Kenneth's death was changed so that his head was no longer severed at all when he is first found. Instead, his jugular was ripped out. Similarly, the Hunter's decapitation of Rebecca Chambers in the original version is changed to it merely slicing her jugular veins.
Resident Evil 2
When released in the U.S. in January 21, 1998, Resident Evil 2 had some very violent and gruesome death scenes that occurred during the Game Over screen. However, in the Japanese release of the title, which was released a week later, these scenes were censored, with the Game Over screen going black before any of the excessive violence was shown.
In Germany, the PC and Dreamcast version was censored. There are grey blood (even in cutscenes), green blood when bleeding, and the death sequence was censored too. The game was later released uncut.
The 2006 Japanese Sourcenext re-release also has death scenes (game over) censored with the same black out found in original Japanese version.
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis
In its original Japanese release, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis has only decapitations from the Hunter censored. However, the PlayStation version downloaded from the Japanese PlayStation Network store is fully censored as it is based on the CapKore release.
In the U.S., releases for the PlayStation, Dreamcast, and PC do not depict a zombie's head being decapitated when kicked by Jill in response to them biting her ankle; however, decapitations from the Hunter remain uncensored, including the introduction scene where a Hunter decapitates a zombie. The later GameCube release, however, is fully uncensored.
Several PAL releases censor both the Hunter decapitations and zombie decapitations. The GameCube versions undo this censorship, but the zombie decapitated by the Hunter is still censored.
In Germany, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is fully censored and even includes gray blood and bodies disappearing after a few seconds. The Mercenaries mini-game was also censored too, removing extra time for enemies (except animals), making it impossible to get the infinite ammo. The cut-scenes remained uncensored.
Resident Evil CODE:Veronica
CODE:Veronica did not depict any actual form of censorship, as all releases of the game were the same in terms of violence. However, there is a notable difference in how the title handled violence in relation to past titles as all forms of decapitation were non-existent, although it had the mechanics in place to be present, such as the Hunter's typical decapitation finishing attack and usage of weapons such as the shotgun on zombies that would normally cause their head to explode.
Resident Evil Outbreak
Resident Evil Outbreak File#2 was edited outside of Japan to conform to smoking standards; in a number of countries, the depiction of smoking is prohibited in video games for all age-classifications. The Underbelly scenario featured a tobacco advertisement as a collectible item for the character Kevin Ryman. This was altered to become the Cigarette Warning, the purpose of which was to object to smoking in the style of cigarette packets.
Also in all versions of the game, although not actual censorship, zombies cannot be decapitated and Instant death moves from enemies are a lot less violent than most other games in the series. Zombies also disappear on death but this may be to avoid framerate drops related to the games being fully 3D.
Resident Evil 4
In the U.S. release, which came out January 11, 2005, all characters would be visibly decapitated from relevant prompts, such as some of the attacks from chainsaw-wielding Ganado. Heads of enemies would also explode under certain conditions, such as an attack from a powerful pistol, shotgun, or sniper rifle. However, in the Japanese release of the title over two weeks later, any instances of decapitation and many of the other brutal deaths Leon could suffer were removed. The censorship is still present on the Japanese version of the HD release, however the American and European versions remain uncensored.
Resident Evil 5
Much like CODE:Veronica, Resident Evil 5 contains no actual form of censorship. However, models originally had the possibility of decapitation with a severed head model, and early versions of the demo game before completion also depicted decapitation. However, any form of this was removed from the game in its release in all forms and in all regions. Instead, a trick of camera angles is used to avoid showing the head at all when a decapitation is prompted (though sometimes the trick fails and the camera may accidentally show the head. It generally happens when an obstruction prevents the camera from getting into proper position), however remnants of the model still exist in the coding. Strangely, the death from Duvalia which shows player's body above the waist being devoured remained in full view. The decision to not use decapitation may be related to the game's online aspects, since players could connect with players from other countries that may have policies about censoring decapitations.
Resident Evil 6
As with the previous titles, Resident Evil 6 did not feature player decapitation animations, instead using trick camera work to imply decapitation. Similar camerawork was used in a cutscene in Chris Chapter 5, were Piers Nivans' dismembered arm was kept out of view.
Resident Evil 7: Biohazard
The Memo on Deputy's Head is edited to have the decapitated head of David Anderson replaced with a polaroid photo of the deceased deputy in the Japanese version, due to Japanese censorship against decapitations. In addition, when arriving in the dissection room, the player in the Japanese version simply finds the Snake Key in close proximity to the intact corpse, instead of interacting with the headless corpse to have Ethan stuff his hand down the throat to retrieve the key, for the same reason why the file was censored.