Survival horror games are practically a dime-a-dozen nowadays. There
are a few franchises that have seen success, such as Silent Hill, or
Fatal Frame. But there is one that was my introduction to the genre,
perhaps the most well-known of them all, and some might say the one
responsible for the explosion of the genre. Resident Evil.
The first Resident Evil hit the Playstation in mid 1996, sporting the box art you see to the right. That was back in the early days of the first Playstation, when the boxes were more like DVD’s cases, before they switched to jewel-cases (and have since switched back to DVD cases…).
It has an M rating, 17+. I was most certainly not over 17 at the time. I shouldn’t have been sold this game, but this was ten years ago, back before video games had gotten large enough for the media and politicians decided they would serve as a scapegoat for the nation’s problems.
This game was an experience, to say the least. Some of it was cheesy, so bad in fact that we still remember and joke about it today. “Take this lockpick, since you are the master of unlocking”. Heh. But those moments fast faded as the game progressed. Resident Evil made zombies scary again.
Like when you’d enter a room and after that creepy opening door loading screen, you’d pause and hold your breath, waiting for the tell-tale moaning and shuffling sounds of zombies turning their attention towards your live meat.
And if zombies were bad, zombie dogs were worse. Those things were fast and hard to hit.
I won’t even get started on those jumping lizard things, because if you played the game you know all about them.
There are a series of memories that stand out for me. Running from the sharks in the flooded basement. That gigantic plant down there. The pool table room with the spiders. Oh god that was hard for me. Giant, gross hairy spiders. No thanks.
Sitting down with my best friend and making a list of the order in which we needed to do things so that we could beat the game in under three hours to unlock the rocket launcher. See, ten years ago the internet wasn’t what it is today. If you wanted something like that, it wasn’t as easy to just jump onto any of a thousand websites and print out a walkthrough. You could find stuff if you looked hard enough, but most of it we figured out ourselves, or acquired from print magazines.
I remember playing through Resident Evil as both Chris and Jill, taking the slightly different paths through the game. I remember getting Chris’ second outfit, and tearing through the game with the rocket launcher in record time.
Resident Evil 4 is now my favorite of the series, but that one had ten years of technological advancement on it’s birthright. For what it was, the original Resident Evil was a masterpiece of vision and execution.