Resident Evil was Originally in Development for the SNES

Over the years, it seems quite a few revolutionary games have turned out to have been SNES titles at some point in development. There was Banjo-Kazooie and its well-known origins as Project Dream, a pirate themed title that Rare were planning to make for the SNES. There was Rayman, which originally started out as a SNES platformer with simpler sprite graphics before making its move to the PlayStation 1 and Jaguar.

And now it seems we can add Resident Evil to the list too. Yep as the title suggests, everyone’s favourite PS1 survival horror game was originally intended to be a SNES title as well, with the game seemingly taking place in a hellish environment rather than the familiar mansion. Here’s are some comments about it from Koji Oda in a recent interview with Game Informer:

It’s not that well known, but before Resident Evil went to the PlayStation, I was working on it for the Super NES.

This was back before the name Resident Evil had even been assigned to it. The codename for this was literally just ‘horror game.’ On the SNES, we were working with limited hard drive space, so it’s not like we could dump a movie in there. If we had actually completed it on the SNES, I’m sure it would have been considerably different. For example, it was originally set in a place that had nothing to do with reality – more of a hellish place.

As you can tell, it clearly wasn’t going to be the Resident Evil title we all know and love. But what was it going to be?

Well, that’s the million-dollar question really. Obviously, as Oda says, the limited hard drive space would have had major effects on the game’s structure, and it’s likely much of the story focus would be severely toned back as a result of that. No Jill Sandwich comments or cheesy B move voice acting for us here!

But even without that, Resident Evil wouldn’t have worked as it was on the PS1 on a 16-bit system. Remember, one of the main keys to the title’s appeal was the pre-rendered backgrounds it used. The ones that were far too complicated for the PS1 to render in real time, and which (sort of like Donkey Kong Country and Mortal Kombat style fighting games before it) gave the illusion the system was far more capable than it actually was.

So, without them, it’s hard to tell what would have been planned here. Maybe it would have looked like Clock Tower, another well-known horror title that did manage to make it to the SNES. Perhaps it would have been like the mansion section of that Conker themed Link to the Past ROM hack. Either way, it would have been significantly less impressive than its final version was.

Clock Tower SNES

Add the hell themes on top of that, and well, it’s likely the whole ‘zombie horror’ setup that’s become so common in games may never have kicked off at all. Think about it, what inspired that stuff in video games?

Titles like Resident Evil and House of the Dead. And while Sega’s light gun focused series probably wouldn’t have gone anywhere, the lack of the Resident Evil formula would have drastically changed how the genre would have turned out today. Heck, even Luigi’s Mansion may not have existed in this universe!

But either way, that was what was planned at one point. Resident Evil was indeed planned to be a SNES game.

So, what do you think about it? Are you curious to how Resident Evil may have worked on a 16-bit system? Do you feel the survival horror genre would ever have been the same if it hadn’t been released as a PS1 game with the design decisions people hold dear?

Post your thoughts on this (and more) in the comments below or on the Gaming Latest forums today!

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Resident Evil Was Originally in Development for the SNES (Game Informer)

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