Shinji Mikami (三上真司, Mikami Shinji, born August 11, 1965) is a Japanese video game designer best known for creating the Resident Evil survival horror series (known as Biohazard in Japan), and has also contributed to the creation of some of Capcom's most popular post-32-bit franchises, including Viewtiful Joe and Devil May Cry as a producer.
Mikami was hired by Capcom shortly after graduating from Doshisha University in Kyoto in 1990. His first job was as Planner for Capcom Quiz: Hatena? no Daibôken, a quiz game for the GameBoy. The game was scheduled to be completed in only one month, but it took twice that long to finish. A third month was devoted to playtesting to ensure it was bug-free. The delays almost caused Capcom to cancel the game altogether. Mikami's second title was Who Framed Roger Rabit? (1991) for the GameBoy. The Disney-licensed side-scrolling adventure game took five months to complete, partly due to staff being moved to other projects midway into development. The remaining staff took on jobs outside of their focus to make up for losses. In the end it was decided the game would not be released in Japan.
In 1992 Mikami was assigned with the development of an unnamed Formula 1 racing game. The game was cancelled after eight months of development. In an interview, Mikami explained that his love for racing got the better of him and the staff became wary of such an unnecessarily long development time.
The fourth title was another Disney-licensed game, Disney's Aladdin (1993) for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Mikami considered this a punishment for his handling of a racing game, being given a three month deadline for the 2D sidescroller so the company could make back the money it lost to the cancellation. Mikami's next project was a third Disney game, Goof Troop, an action-adventure game for the SNES.
Early Resident Evil titles
In 1995 Mikami was hired by Producer Tokuro Fujiwara to direct a horror game for the PlayStation in a similar style to Sweet Home (1989), which Fujiwara himself directed. The game, which Mikami dubbed "Psycho" involved the player combating ghosts in a mansion. Mikami received criticism by Capcom's management for his refusal to plan out a script, seeing plot as getting in the way of gameplay. Later on in the year a number of changes had been made, with the creation of a four-person taskforce of cybernetically-enhanced investigators fighting Zombies, with ideas taken from horror films like George A. Romero's Dead series and Lucio Fulci's Zombi. Capcom was still unimpressed with the game, now dubbed "BIO HAZARD", and brought in writer Kenichi Iwao to create the story. The game was retitled Resident Evil during its English localization under Capcom USA's suggestion and was released in Japan and North America on March 22, 1996, becoming one of the PlayStation's first successful titles. It was the first game to be dubbed "survival horror", a term Capcom coined to promote the game.
After the success of Resident Evil, Mikami became more focused on the business side of games development and was assigned by Yoshiki Okamoto as Producer for the game's sequel, Resident Evil 2. Mikami and the game's director, newcomer Hideki Kamiya, had a difference of opinion in how the game should appear and he removed himself from overseeing the project directly. Handed a monthly ROM of the game for review in December 1996 he complained to Kamiya about its poor standard, Kamiya having also had little oversight over development. Sensing the game would not be completed and patched before its scheduled March 1997 release date, Mikami gained permission from Okamoto to delay the game another two months. During this time Super Sentai script writer Noboru Sugimura was brought onto the project to edit the script; his dissatisfaction with Kamiya's writing led to Okamoto delaying the game another ten months while the script was rewritten. Confident the two had learnt their lessons on avoiding the development, Mikami insisted Kamiya not be fired as director.
Mikami's next directing job was Dino Crisis (1999), a dinosaur-themed horror game in a similar style to Resident Evil. At the same time Mikami also produced BIOHAZARD 1.9, a low-budget prequel to Resident Evil 2 starring Jill Valentine and directed by Kazuhiro Aoyama. The game was to focus more on the horror themes of the original game than Kamiya's Resident Evil 2 as an apology to any fans who did not like the game. When Capcom transferred BIOHAZARD 3 from the PlayStation to the PlayStation 2, they changed its name to BIOHAZARD 4 and had 1.9 renamed BIOHAZARD 3 LAST ESCAPE to fill in the number gap to gain more audience appeal. Mikami was offended by the decision, seeing the game as unworthy of the number 3, which would put it in direct comparison with the first two. For this Mikami threatened to quit the company.
Shortly after the release of Resident Evil 3 in Japan, Capcom Production Studio 4 was established. The studio's staff were mainly the key developers in the company's survival horror projects. Mikami was appointed as the general manager of the studio, and worked as executive producer for various games, giving more influence over games development. Outside of LAST ESCAPE, Mikami was producing Hiroki Kato's Resident Evil CODE:Veronica (2000), a fully 3D game for the Dreamcast. Sometime in 2000, Mikami used his influence to remove the Resident Evil name from Hideki Kamiya's BIOHAZARD 4.
In 2001, in what was to be one of his most controversial business decisions, Mikami formed an exclusivity agreement with Nintendo in which the main Resident Evil games would be sold only for the Nintendo GameCube. The GameCube would receive, in addition to ports of previous PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast installments, three new games in the series; a remake of the original Resident Evil, Resident Evil Zero, and Resident Evil 4 (the deal did not include spinoff titles, such as the Gun Survivor and Outbreak games). Resident Evil and Resident Evil Zero were both released in 2002.
The remake of Resident Evil, was released in Japan on the 6th anniversary of the release of the original: March 22, 2002. The remake was billed as the definitive version of the game. According to November 2002 reports from Bloomberg and gaming site the-magicbox.com, the remake actually surpassed Capcom's sales expectations. Capcom had expected it to sell 250,000 units in the US. However, it sold 490,000 copies in that country. In Europe, the game sold 360,000 copies. A sales figure that was well beyond the 180,000 units it was expected to sell. In total, Resident Evil managed to sell 1,250,000 units during its first year of release. The remake's sales data was made public by Capcom during its Financial Review Report for the year 2002.
On November 12, 2002, Resident Evil Zero was released. Gaming site gamefront.de reported that 138,855 copies of the game were sold on its first day of release. Capcom expected Resident Evil Zero to sell 1.42 million copies, but sold only 1.12 million. The fact that Resident Evil Zero did not match or surpass the remake's sales figures, spread fear among Capcom executives and share holders. They worried that Resident Evil 4 would not sell well enough on GameCube.
In spite of Resident Evil Zero's underwhelming sales, Mikami remained confident in his support for Nintendo and announced four exclusive titles for the GameCube under development by Production Studio 4 in addition to Resident Evil 4; P.N.03, Viewtiful Joe, Killer7, and Dead Phoenix. This lineup became known as the Capcom 5.
The first of these games to be released was the Mikami-directed P.N.03. The game was both a commercial and critical failure, receiving lukewarm reviews from the press and selling below expectations. As a result, Mikami stepped down as manager of Production Studio 4, while remaining as one of the head producers within the team.
After his failure with P.N.03, Mikami decided to concentrate instead on the creative aspects of the Capcom 5. He eventually took over directioral duties for Resident Evil 4 from previous director, Hiroshi Shibata. Under his direction, Resident Evil 4 went through some substantial changes.
Resident Evil 4 was released in 2005 and was one of the GameCube's top-selling titles, selling 1,250,000 units worldwide within a year. The game was critically praised, winning many game of the year awards.
Shinji Mikami touted the game as a GameCube exclusive. In an interview with a Japanese magazine, Mikami even claimed that he would "cut [his own] head off" if Resident Evil 4 came to the PlayStation 2. This claim was parodied in God Hand, which featured a racing dog named "Mikami's Head." Recently in an interview he gave apologies for Resident Evil 4 going multiplatform. He felt quite bad, believing some people bought a GameCube just to play Resident Evil 4 without knowing that it would finally be made available for PlayStation 2.
After the success of Resident Evil 4, Mikami left Studio 4 and was transferred over to Clover Studio in 2004. Originally established in July 2004, Clover Studio employed an all-star lineup of Capcom development talent, including Atsushi Inaba (producer of Steel Battalion and Viewtiful Joe) and Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry director).
At Clover, Mikami supervised the development of God Hand, a beat 'em up genre game that parodies American and Japanese pop culture. It was released in Japan on September 14, 2006, and on October 10, 2006 in North America.
On October 12, 2006, Capcom announced plans to dissolve its wholly owned Clover Studio after a decision made at the publisher's Board of Directors meeting. The company was officially dissolved at the end of March 2007.
After the dissolution of Clover Studio, Mikami joined Seeds Inc, now known as Platinum Games, the newly formed successor of his former studio. Platinum Games is composed of several artistically praised game designers including Hideki Kamiya (creator of Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe), Yuta Kimura (artist on projects such as Shadow of the Colossus and Okami), Nao Ueda (game developer on Resident Evil 4 and Okami), as well as Mari Shimazaki (responsible for the character design of Okami), and Masami Ueda (composer on several Resident Evil titles and Viewtiful Joe, in addition to musics of Devil May Cry and Okami).
Mikami recently revealed that he formed a private development studio called Straight Story in 2006, shortly before the fall of Clover Studio. The name of the studio is taken from the 1999 David Lynch movie. Their works will be under the Platinum Games branding and he is a contract employee ("external board member") of Platinum Games. He is also collaborating with Grasshopper Manufacture's Suda 51 on a new project about which he is expected to shed light on in summer 2008. Based on an interview with Suda51, it will be in some way similar to Killer7.
In May 2008, Platinum Games announced a 4 game deal with Sega. The games involved in the development and publishing deal included Bayonetta, a "stylish action game" for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 directed by Hideki Kamiya and featuring "a witch battling angels", a science-fiction RPG for the Nintendo DS called Infinite Line, MadWorld, an "ultra ultra violent" action game for the Wii with black and white Sin City-inspired graphics and an untitled project from Shinji Mikami. In a recent interview it was stated that these games will be developed into series.
|Game||Year of release||Role|
|The Evil Within||2014||Director|
|Shadows of the Damned||2011||Producer|
|Resident Evil 4||2005||Director|
|Gyakuten Saiban 3||2004||Executive producer|
|Dino Crisis 3||2003||Executive producer|
|Viewtiful Joe||2003||Executive producer|
|Gyakuten Saiban 2||2003||Executive producer|
|Resident Evil Zero||2002||Executive Advisor|
|Gyakuten Saiban||2001||Executive producer|
Devil May Cry
|Dino Crisis 2||2000||Executive producer|
|Resident Evil CODE:Veronica||2000||Producer|
|Resident Evil 3: Nemesis||1999||Producer|
Resident Evil: Director's Cut (DualShock Ver.)
Resident Evil 2
|Goof Troop||1994||Game designer|
|Untitled F1 game||1992||Planner|
|Who Framed Roger Rabbit?||1991||Planner|
|Capcom Quiz: Hatena? no Daibôken||1990||Planner|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Shinji Mikami interview.
- ↑ Resident Evil Archives II, page 238
- ↑ Resident Evil Zero (GCN) credits - MobyGames
- ↑ Resident Evil (GCN) credits - MobyGames
- ↑ Resident Evil Gaiden credits - MobyGames
- ↑ Resident Evil CODE:Veronica X (PS2) credits - MobyGames
- ↑ Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (GCN) credits - MobyGames
- ↑ Resident Evil 2 (PS1) credits - MobyGames
- ↑ Resident Evil: The Director's Cut credits - MobyGames