WS: What were your goals with Resident Evil?
I really wanted to make the game as scary as possible. When I first started developing the game concept, I considered giving it a ghost story or suspense thriller theme, but those ideas didn't go anywhere.
I wanted the game to present the player with something visible that could actually confront and threaten him. The player had to feel scared, as if something was waiting for him around the next corner. I believe the player could simultaneously feel fear and enjoy playing the game.
I also wanted to let the player fight the fear in its own way. And when a critical, desperate situation arose, I wanted the player to be able to blow the enemy to pieces!
WS: How did you decide on using zombies as the enemies?
I may have been inspired by the zombies in George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, which I used to watch when I was in junior high. In the movie, the zombies are walking human corpses that live on human flesh. It's scary because the zombies will attack you for no other reason than to eat your flesh. The gruesomeness of the deaths made one viewer involuntarily scream, "Don't come near me!"
WS: Are there any characters that got cut out?
There are five main characters in the final game: Chris, Jill, Barry, Rebecca and Wesker. Two of the original characters are missing from this group.
One was a muscular Caucasian man who looked like a hardened war veteran. His right eye had been lost in battle, and in its place he wore an infrared scope. He was reliable, knowledgeable about all types of heavy weaponry, and far stronger than an ordinary man. Initially, this character had a scene in which he held up an entire ceiling and prevented it from crashing down. He was redesigned and now appears as Barry — with a completely different appearance.
Another person who disappeared from the game was a tall, skinny African-American man. He was a very humorous character, designed to make players laugh even in the midst of horror.
WS: What's the difference between the U.S. and Japanese versions of Resident Evil?
The title of the game is Bio Hazard in Japan and Resident Evil in the U.S. The U.S. title was created by the staff of Capcom USA after they reviewed the contents of the game.
The U.S. version is more difficult than the Japanese version, so much that even the R&D staff couldn't make it to the end of the game unless they played very carefully. The U.S. staff asked us to create this more difficult version so that the game could be rented in the U.S. If the game could be completed in a few days, fewer units of the game would sell.
WS: Why do you think the Resident Evil video games have become such huge international hits?
Mikami: I think it's because the game theme is terror. Terror can be perceived by everyone, and we have succeeded in generating an unprecedented level of terror. Players are in tense, cautious mode, fearing to move forward.
WS: How did you decide on the storyline for Resident Evil 2?
Mikami: It was jointly decided by Capcom and Flagship. Flagship wasn't involved with Resident Evil 1, but they are responsible for the scenarios for RE2 and all future RE games.
WS: There are lots of hidden games in Resident Evil 2 (Tofu, for example). Whose idea was this?
Mikami:We combined the ideas of the whole staff, so the idea doesn't belong to a specific staff member. We created the hidden games because we wanted the players to play the game over and over. As for the Tofu character, he was used to checking while we were developing the game. We put arms and legs on Tofu, and thought it was very funny. We decided to adopt him for the game so the players could laugh at him.
WS: How did you come up with the new creatures, like the Licker, that are featured in Resident Evil 2?
Mikami: We all exchanged our opinions and ideas to create the creatures.
WS: Are there significant differences between the Japanese and U.S. versions of Resident Evil 2, as there were with RE1?
Mikami:The U.S. version of RE2 is more difficult than the Japanese version. Also, there are "dying demos" in the U.S. version that were deleted in the Japanese version. A dying demo is a CG [computer generated] scene shown when the player dies (Game Over).
WS: How were the amazingly lifelike CG scenes filmed?
Mikami:First, using motion pictures and action figures, we made image videos [shots of the figures from every angle] to get standard images. Then, we used CG tools to render each picture and convert the data for PlayStation.
WS: Will there be a Resident Evil 3? If so, when will it be available?
Mikami:We do plan to make RE3, but we don't know when.
WS: Will we be seeing Jill and Chris from Resident Evil 1 again?
Mikami:It hasn't been decided yet, but I would like to cast them in the feature game.
WS: Will we ever see the European Umbrella HQ that Jill and Chris went to look for at the end of RE1?
Mikami: I'm sorry, that's classified...
WS: Will there be new creatures featured in RE3?
Mikami: That hasn't been decided.
WS: What are your influences? Movies? Books? Magazines? Music?
Mikami: I watch about 50 movies every year; I've watched most of the movies featuring zombies. I read fantasy novels, like Guin Saga. I listen to classical music, like Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20, and jazz, like Bud Powell's "Dream of Cleopatra." I enjoy video games, too, like The Legend of Zelda.
WS: How many people work on the RE games?
Mikami:60 people on RE1, 50 people on RE2.
WS: What is your career background?
Mikami:I graduated from Doshisha University (one of the traditional private universities located in Kyoto), Development of Commercial Science. I majored in the study of merchandise. As a club activity, I participated in kendo and karate. I joined Capcom eight years ago. I was involved in the development of Aladdin and Good Troop for Super Famicom, and Roger Rabbit for Game Boy.
WS: Did you play video games when you were growing up?
Mikami:I didn't play video games when I was little; I played outside instead. The first game I played was Space Invaders, when I was in junior high school. I played it for or give times at a coffee shop. When I was 20, I started playing video games.
To the readers:
I will be making other games in addition to Resident Evil, so please give us support!
Resident Evil Producer