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The inspiration for Resident Evil was the earlier Capcom game Sweet Home. Shinji Mikami was initially commissioned to make a horror game set in a haunted mansion like Sweet Home.
The idea of using zombies as enemies came from George A. Romero's Dead movie series. Earlier ideas for the game proposed paranormal enemies instead of living creatures. The designers mentioned in an interview that they planned to use the scariest thing imaginable for the game's main enemy, and that was "ourselves."
The design on the back of Chris' alternate costume is a reference to an album by the rock group Queen entitled "Made in Heaven." Other references to the album appear in Resident Evil 2, Code: Veronica and Resident Evil Zero. In Resident Evil 2, the "Made in Heaven" design is also seen on the back of Claire's vest. In Code: Veronica, the back of Claire's jacket reads "Let Me Live", the third track off "Made in Heaven." In Resident Evil Zero, Billy's tattoo reads "Mother Love", the fourth track off "Made in Heaven."
In Resident Evil 2, Chris' brown jacket, part of his alternative costume from the first title, is seen hanging above his desk in the S.T.A.R.S. office. Since it is the same office, also appears in Resident Evil 3.
The "Made in Heaven" design on Chris' jacket and sweater has 20 bombs. The one on Claire's vest only has 16. The style of the image is similar to airplane nose art, popular in World War II, and a reference to Chris' days in the Air Force.
An early puzzle involves playing a song on the grand piano in the mansion's bar. The composition is Ludwig van Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata."
The following details are from The True Story Behind Biohazard (1997, Capcom):
Resident Evil was initially envisioned as a first-person shooter until it was decided that playing from a first-person perspective wasn't scary enough.
A series of documents, known as the "Trevor's Letters", were proposed for the original game, but not included in the final version due to the fact that they revealed too much of the game's plot too soon. They were later restored in the GameCube remake with a few differences due to the retroactive changes made in the new version.
Two characters appeared in an early draft of the game's storyline as Jill's and Chris' supporting characters. Gelzer, a muscular Caucasian man with a cybernetic eye who was scheduled to hold an entire roof up at one point of the game, and Dewey, a thin African American man modeled after Eddie Murphy who would've served as the comic relief. In the finished version of the game, these two were replaced by Barry and Rebecca respectively. The name Dewey was then used for an unrelated member of S.T.A.R.S. (Edward Dewey).
It is likely that the ideas of Gelzer and Dewey were reused in Capcom's later survival horror game "Dino Crisis" which features Gail, and Rick (who is the main source of comic relief in the game) both greatly resemble Gelzer and Dewey in terms of appearance and personality.
The original Japanese release of the BioHazard was meant to feature Japanese voice acting for its dialog. According to Mikami, the Japanese voice acting was removed from the game as he found the quality of the performances to be unsatisfactory, or in his own words "they were really lame". Remnants of the original Japanese dialogue are found in a CD called BIO HAZARD SYMPHONY Op. 91: CRIME AND PUNISHMENT; Disc 2 has a track called "Character's Voice 3" that contains some snips of the Japanese dialogue. The BioHazard Complete Disc, the disc that came bundled with the Dual Shock ver. of Director's Cut in Japan, also featured the intro and endings from the game in Japanese.#
The original game was put into the Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008 for the "Worst Game Dialogue Ever".
At the beginning of the game, an attempt to go back out the front door starts a FMV showing the player opening the door slowly and a Cerberus tries to dash in, but the player successfully closes the door on the enemy's face forcing it to back off.
Biohazard was meant to be a co-operation adventure, having Chris as a main character and Jill as his support. But due to low RAM of the PlayStation, the idea was dropped and later used in Resident Evil Zero.
According to Alyson Court the script was that bad because there wasn't much communication between North America & Japan, therefore had a bad influence on the script writing.
The concept of removing the 'fourth dimensional' item boxes was later brought back in the Gamecube remake as an unlockable mode known as Real Survivor. It also disabled the auto-aim feature when playing the mode.
A short interview made to Makoto Tomozawa, former Capcom/Resident Evil 1 Music Composer, reveal him to be also the composer of another Capcom's title, "Mega Man X3", Tomozawa composed the overseas opening and ending version of said title made for the PC Port/Saturn given unmistakable similarities with the beginning of Resident Evil's overseas staff roll theme, "Still Dawn".
In Capcom's Dead Rising there is a restaurant called "Jill's Sandwiches". A reference to Barry's popular line after saving Jill from the "Shotgun Trap" room: "You were almost a Jill Sandwich!"
The PC version of the game has numerous porting issues (namely the inability to exit the game with using a command prompt like CTRL ALT DEL). It also has support issues for operating systems above Windows 95, and Capcom never seems to have made any patches to fix this.
↑"We also recorded Japanese voices (for the game), not just English ones. They were discarded because they were really lame." (英語だけでなくじつは日本語のボイズ収録も行なった。 カッコ悪かったのでボツに。,Eigo dake de naku jitsu wa nihongo no boisu shūroku mo okonatta. Kakkowarukatta node botsu ni.?), The True Story Behind BIO HAZARD, page 157.