Shinji Mikami was born on August 11th, 1965. After graduating from Doshisha
University, he went to work as a game planner for Capcom in 1990.
His first efforts within the videogame company centered on projects for Nintendo's,
hand held system, the Game Boy. The first game he worked on was Capcom Quiz:
Hatena no Daiboken, a game that took 3 months to produce. It was followed by another
Game Boy title that was based on the popular animated feature film, Who Framed
Roger Rabbit? (1991).
Afterwards, he worked on a F1 racing game that suffered from constant delays in production.
It was eventually canceled. At the same time that Mikami was involved in that game,
he was producing Aladdin. That game was released in 1993 for the Super Nintendo
home console. In 1994, Mikami tackled another Disney project, Goof
Despite the moderate success that Shinji Mikami enjoyed from his previous
efforts, his road to fame would begin by way of a horror videogame. That game,
would eventually consolidate a new genre in the gaming world. The genre would be
Survival Horror. An the game in question would be known as: Biohazard.
This new game, was based in part on an old Capcom game for the Famicom named
Sweet Home. It was a videogame adaptation of a Japanese feature film of the same
name. Another influence, was a PC game called Alone in the Dark. The main plot of
the original Biohazard was basically a mansion that was plagued by zombies. The plot
itself was inspired on George Romero's Evil Dead fright flicks. However,
Biohazard accumulate certain qualities that would set it apart from the rest.
So much so, that it became representative of the Survival Horror genre.
-RE4 becomes DMC-
Published in March 22nd 1996 for the Playstation 1, the game was less methodical than
Alone in the Dark and included a lot more action elements in it's gameplay. Biohazard
characters and certain objects were rendered in 3D with the use of polygons. The backgrounds
were pre-rendered and at the time, they were highly admired due to their high quality and
exquisite attention to detail. Because of some trademark issues, Capcom USA decided to
rename Biohazard for it's release in the States. There, it was known as Resident Evil.
The moment Resident Evil hit the streets, it became a phenomenal success. 10 years after
it was originally released, it had sold 2.750.000 units all over the world.
Mikami had made it big. But the young director wasn't taking it easy. He immediately begun
work on the sequel to Resident Evil, but now as the producer of the said game. Just a
few months after the launch of the first game, images of Biohazard 2 were spawning
all over the Tokyo Game Show in 1996.
It was originally planned to have the game ready for a March '97 release date. And the development
of Biohazard 2 went along fine for the most part. However, Shinji Mikami felt that the game was going
in the wrong direction. And in a highly controversial move, he scrapped the whole thing and
started the game almost from scratch. The job of Director of Biohazard 2 went to Hideki
Kamiya. As a result of these actions, the game was delayed for almost a year.
In order to calm down the fans of the blossoming franchise, Mikami offered them a
special edition of the first game. It was sold with the title Resident Evil: Director's
Cut and included some modified gameplay elements, plus a demo of Biohazard 2.
In January 1998, the eagerly awaited sequel was finally released. Resident Evil 2
broke sales records all over the globe. To date, Resident Evil 2 still holds the crown
as the best selling Resident Evil game ever. It has sold a total of 4.960.000 copies, according to
March 2006 sales figures. That's almost 5 million units sold!
In 1999, another franchise that was spawned from the mind of Mikami was born. The game was
inspired by Biohazard and also on the blockbuster Jurassic Park. It became known
as Dino Crisis. Mikami described the game as a roller coaster ride filled with thrills
and plenty of scares. Dino Crisis would go on to sell 2.400.000 units on the Playstation 1.
That same year, the third game in the survival horror series was released. Resident Evil 3:
Nemesis would storm the shelves and gamers would snatch every single copy of the game, to
the point that RE3 currently has sold more than 3 million units. Despite such success,
many felt that RE3 had recycled too many elements from the first two games and offered
very little in terms of innovations. Some argued that the controls needed an overhaul, but
Mikami disagreed. He felt the controls were part of the whole "survival feeling" of not
being in total control of your character. He was however, in agreement with the sentiment
that RE3 was not that great of a game.
Mikami went on to mention in an interview, that if they had not scrapped the first
version of RE2 in order to make it a better product, he believed that RE3
would've been the end of the franchise. Because it wasn't a game that was as polished as
Perhaps to ensure the "survival" of it's survival horror money maker, Capcom
decided to create in 1999 a team within the company designed to develop the future sequels
to Resident Evil. The team would be called Production Studio 4 and the top
spot would be reserved for Shinji Mikami, who landed the job as general manager of the
newly created team.
The initial mayor goal to be achieved by R&D 4, was to develop the fourth installment
of the numerical series. Mikami already had in mind to revitalize the series with the
4th game. Biohazard 4 was to be an ambitious project in almost every way imagined.
But first, Mikami became involved as producer of a new Biohazard game.
Biohazard Code: Veronica was designed from the ground up for SEGA's
new kid on the block, the Dreamcast. More powerful than the PSOne, the
Dreamcast allowed the team behind the game to add for the first time, 3D environments
instead of the usual pre-rendered backgrounds. Biohazard Code: Veronica was released
in the year 2000 and went on to sale 1.140.000 units. That same year, another of Mikami's
brainchild's got a sequel. Dino Crisis 2 would retain it's charm among Playstation
users and thanks to them, 1.190.000 copies of DC2 would sell worldwide.
In 2001, a special edition of Biohazard Code: Veronica was developed for the Dreamcast
and also for Sony's brand new game console, Playstation 2. This edition of the game was created to
fill some plot holes and add some more in the process. Regardless, Biohazard Code: Veronica Complete Edition,
as the special edition was known in Japan, went on to outsell the original. In the States and
elsewhere, it was known as Resident Evil Code: Veronica X. The PS2 version managed
to sell 1.400.000 units.
The development of Resident Evil 4 had taken an unsuspected turn. For one, the creature
designer had created enemies that evoked a different feeling from the ones featured in past
Resident Evil games. Many gameplay elements also had the same feel to them. It was
certainly not turning out as Mikami had expected. But instead of scrapping the whole
thing, he believed that all those elements and enemies could be used to create a new game. So
he tried to get approval from the Lead Developer at Capcom in order to make this new
game a reality. But the lead designer wasn't having any of it. Resident Evil 4 had
to be finished at all costs.
-Mikami moves to GameCube-
Undeterred, Mikami started working on convincing every single member of the RE4
team. They needed to accept the idea that it would be better to use what they had developed so
far, in order to create a brand new game. It was a tough sell.
So much so, that it took Mikami 3 whole months of daily brainwashing
before his team mates finally agreed with his idea. With the unanimous support of the team,
Mikami was able to face the Lead Designer again. But this time, with a lot more
confidence and authority. The same request was made. The Lead Designer was cornered and was given
little choice. As a result, the RE4 project was halted for the time being. In it's
place, a new game would emerge. And the title of this game would be: Devil May Cry.
The development of Devil May Cry went along, not without some problems. At least three
programmers quit the project. According to Mikami, they couldn't keep up with the complexities of
the PlayStation 2, and he spent many months working out the finer details in
Devil May Cry. Even then, it was possible to detect Mikami's dissatisfaction creating
games on the PS2.
Devil May Cry would hit home consoles in 2001. It was an action game all the way.
Puzzle solving and exploration was kept to a minimum. The game would sale 2.160.000 units on
the PS2. Another Mikami franchise was born.
On September 2001, Mikami held a press conference. Among the people present,
was Shigeru Miyamoto, the creator of Super Mario, Donkey Kong and
The Legend of Zelda, among other Nintendo franchises. The reason for the
conference, was to announce that the Resident Evil numerical series was moving
to Nintendo's new game console: the GameCube. It was revealed that 3 games
would be developed exclusively for that console. Resident Evil Ø, Resident Evil 1
(back then known as "Resident Evil Remix") and most surprisingly, Resident Evil 4.
This abrupt move was a blow to long time RE fans who originally got a Playstation 2, among
other reasons, to play Resident Evil 4. They felt betrayed and made fools of. Mikami
explained that he considered the GameCube as the perfect game console for the series.
According to him, that was the main reason for the move. However, more clues of his decision came by way of an interview for EDGE magazine. The UK based
publication, revealed that Mikami was actually fed up with the PS2. He claimed
that Capcom forced him to make games for Sony's game console. Despite his
repeated complains about the hardware. Yet another interview, for the Japanese radio, depicted
Mikami as someone who had a dislike for the PS2. He went on to criticize
Sony for purposely making their consoles easy to break in order to increase
sales by the gamers who are forced to buy another. He also complained about the PS2's
loading times and faulty lenses that wore out quickly.
Whatever the reason, the Resident Evil numerical series found a new home for the next
five years or so. Mikami started working as director of the remake of Resident Evil 1.
At the same time, Resident Evil Ø was transported over to the GCN. It was originally
a Nintendo 64 project with a stage of completion of 40%.
Resident Evil 1 or RE-make as it is more commonly known to it's fans, was released
exclusively for GCN on the 6th anniversary of the release of the original: March 22nd 2002. RE-make
was billed as the definitive version of the game. It contained everything Mikami had
always desired to include in the game. It was his vision fulfilled. Capcom estimated
that a million copies of the game would sell. And yet the remake surpassed such expectations
when it managed to sell 1.250.000 units total during it's first year on the streets.
On the 4th of July 2002, Resident Evil Gaiden was on sale for the Game Boy Color.
Mikami served as adviser for that game.
November 12th of the same year, Resident Evil Ø was released. This game would introduce
new gameplay elements, such as the "zapping system" that allows players to swap between the two
main characters. That and the lack of "magic boxes", demanded the use of thoughtful strategy while
playing. Aside from that, there was little else in terms of innovations. It still had the same
controls and static camera angles. Some of the old scare tactics were employed.
Game analysts were quick to notice the recycling of old routines. And they vented their frustrations
by way of the scores the game received. It got good scores, but not as great as the scores
remake got. In the end, REØ was able to break the million mark by selling 1.12 million copies at the end
of the fiscal year 2002. Yet it fell short from the numbers Capcom had predicted.
Shinji Mikami took note of some of the shortcomings reviewers detected in REØ.
He understood that analysts and more importantly, gamers, were growing tired of the same old tricks.
The pre-rendered backgrounds were no longer impressing anybody. They were so 1990-ish. The
gameplay was losing the fun factor. It felt like a chore to make any progress in the game.
And worse, some felt that the corridor skulking was becoming tedious and boring. Mikami
was able to read the writting on the wall. If he didn't shake things up, the series would be
heading for a premature burial, instead of the much desired rebirth of the franchise. All of
this would end up influencing Mikami, when the time came to decide what direction
Resident Evil 4 had to take.
In the fall of 2002, Capcom held a press conference. During the event, it was
revealed that 5 games would be developed exclusively for the GameCube. These five
games were to be known as the Capcom 5. The lineup included Product Number 03 (P.N.03),
Viewtiful Joe, Dead Phoenix, Killer 7 and Resident Evil 4.
-Capcom's 2003 Reforms-
The idea behind the Capcom 5 was to produce games that broke with the norm. Games that
could be develop by small teams and with modest budgets. The five games would be created by
some of Capcom's most prodigious directors. They included Hiroki Kato (Dead Phoenix),
Gouichi Suda (Killer 7), Hideki Kamiya (Viewtiful Joe), Niroshi Shibata (Resident Evil 4) and
Shinji Mikami (P.N. 03).
The first of these games to be released was Product Number 03. The game was both a
commercial and critical failure, receiving lukewarm reviews from the press and selling below
expectations. Something similar happened in regards to Killer 7. Even though it received
some praise from critics, it suffered from low sales. Viewtiful Joe managed to enjoy
better luck, as initial shipments of the game quickly sold out. It went on to become yet
another Capcom franchise, making an appearance in other game consoles and handhelds.
Dead Phoenix was dead in the water. It didn't even have a chance and was canceled. It was
just one of many other games that were to suffer the same fate, as a result of Capcom
losing 163 million dollars at the end of their 2002 fiscal year.
On April 18th of 2003, Capcom explained that its major titles sold below expectations.
Resident Evil 0 for the GameCube was expected to sell 1.42 million
copies but sold only 1.12 million. Devil May Cry 2 for the PlayStation 2 sold
1.4 million copies instead of the expected 1.66 million. Clock Tower 3, which was also
released for the PlayStation 2, sold 250,000 copies instead of the expected 450,000.
Capcom released Chaos Legion (PS2) and P.N. 03 (GC) in March as part of
an effort to meet its sales goals for the year, but the sales of the additional games did not
offset its losses. The company's losses were also attributed to the cancellation of projects
that were not likely to be profitable.
-RE4: The rebirth of a franchise-
As a result of those heavy losses incurred over the past fiscal year, Capcom started in
2003 a set of reforms designed to pull themselves out of those losses. They terminated games
that were not likely to be profitable. In fact, 18 games of 100 that were in development were
canceled. Some exclusivity agreements were either modified or terminated altogether. These reforms affected the so-called exclusive status of the Capcom 5. It was
confirmed that none of the games were actually exclusive to GameCube, with the
exception of Resident Evil 4. That game was still considered exclusive to the purple
These reforms, made Shinji Mikami feel partly responsible. As soon as the failure of
P.N. 03 was evident to all, he stepped down as manager of Production Studio 4.
Instead, he started work on Resident Evil 4. Replacing Hiroshi Shibata in the
The development of Resident Evil 4 had progressed rather smoothly and there was little
different in the structure of the game compared to past games in the series. Initially, it
had the same fixed camera and the same controls. The backgrounds were 3D, but they were used in the same
way as in Resident Evil Code: Veronica. Albeit they offered more interaction between
the character and it's surroundings. Despite it all, Mikami didn't see much departure
from the other games. He still had fresh in his mind the criticism Resident Evil Ø
received for recycling to many elements from the franchise. Elements that had become stale and in
some cases, downright obsolete.
-RE4: loses it's exclusivity-
Mikami had recently failed in making the Capcom 5 a successful endeavor. He
probably felt that he couldn't fail again with Resident Evil 4. The whole point of
creating the remake of RE1 was to make possible the fourth game, which in turn was
to become the rebirth of the franchise. He understood such a goal could never really happen
if he played it safe and simply created another clone of past games. They already had done
that recently, with Resident Evil Ø.
As a result, Mikami felt he had to shake things up. RE4
was to have an action oriented gameplay. A new camera system went on to replace the fixed
camera angles of old. Due to this new camera system, a completely revamped aiming system and new
control mechanics were employed. The game's story was set apart as much as possible from the
previous plots featured in past games. This was in part due to the game's new enemies, that
weren't zombies. So instead of overdoing the same Umbrella plot line again and again
as it had been done before, Mikami felt it was time to move the story into a new
direction. So RE4's storyline depicts a period of transition, where Umbrella
as a corporation has been terminated and as a result, a power struggle ensues between
sinister entities. These entities either want to resurrect Umbrella or replace it with
another powerful organization. This fight takes place in the background and in the
shadows. The outcome of that fight, is to be explained in future RE games. But not
in this one. RE4's main plot line, where a hero tries to rescue a hostage and survive impossible
odds, takes center stage.
The producer of the game, Hiroyuki Kobayashi, has spoken out about some details of
the production of RE4. In an interview for ign.com, he mentioned that Mikami
was responsible for the new camera perspective. It was also his idea to have the game emulate
the appearance of "wide screen", as well as adding a certain giant enemy. But Kobayashi
also said, that RE4 was a team effort and that the whole R&D4 team was of the same mind
concerning the direction the game had taken.
under the direction of Shinji Mikami, Resident Evil 4 went through some
substantial changes. A new "Resident Evil" experience was about to be born...
As the release of the RE4 came near, Capcom's share holders were pressuring the
company about allowing RE4 to be ported over to Sony's game console, where they
were expecting more profits than on GameCube. A similar cry came from many PS2
users, all of whom demanded RE4 for their console of choice.
-RE4: goes on sale-
Starting in 2003, rumors concerning RE4 losing it's exclusivity hit the web. Capcom
had to publish official press releases where they would deny all those rumors. In 2004 a gaming
publication, Game Informer, mentioned that the rumors were true. Gaming site ign.com set out
to contact Capcom about the rumors. Again, the company denied them all.
However, just a few days before the release of RE4 on the GameCube in early 2005,
it was announce officially that the game would be ported over to the PS2. It was stated
that the port would not be released until 9 months later.
News bits coming from Japan, made it clear that Mikami was not amuse with this
announcement. Especially, with it's timing. He was quoted as saying that he would stay away
from any future projects relating to Resident Evil and that he would concentrate on
creating new games instead. He also stated that he was not going to work on the port for the
PS2. Some team members of the original version, also refused to work on it. Perhaps
in a show of solidarity to their former leader.
In consequence, the job of adapting the game for the PS2 was given to
Masachika Kawata. Despite Mikami's refusal to work on the project, Kawata
approached him on several key moments of the port's development and asked for his assistance.
Kawata later confirmed, that Mikami was always helpful.
Despite several false starts during development and apparent bad blood between Mikami and his
bosses, Resident Evil 4 was finally released in 2005. It quickly became one of the
GameCube's top-selling titles, selling 1.250.000 million units worldwide within a year.
The game was critically praised by both critics and gamers, winning many game of the year
awards from several gaming publications and websites. RE4 even won the much coveted
CESA award in Japan, thus becoming the most awarded Resident Evil game ever.
-RE4: Mission accomplished-
The Playstation 2 port was released on October 25th, 2005. It also enjoyed the same
level of acceptance from the critics and also from players. Thanks to the Playstation 2
huge user base, the port of Resident Evil 4 went on to sell 1.900.000 copies in a
period of six months.
Resident Evil 4 is currently hailed as one of the best videogames of all time. And that
is not a statement based on mere speculation. In fact, on rottentomatoes.com,
RE4 got an approval rating of 100% from the top critics that reviewed the game. It didn't
get a single bad review. Resident Evil 4 was considered the best game of the franchise.
And that is not something that only the critics agreed with. Gamers and players have given the
game positive reviews on several popular gaming websites, such as gamerankings.com;
ign.com; gamespot and many others.
On those sites, RE4 enjoys an approval rating from players, that ranges from 93% to
98%. The facts, pretty much speak for themselves. Mikami's recent gem was a success with
the vast majority of critics AND gamers.
Due to that amazing success, there was a lot more interest in the franchise among the media
and the general public. Expectation and interest was flourishing around the next game in
line, Resident Evil 5.
It was clear, that the franchise now seemed fresh and revitalized. It's new gameplay
elements made it more appealing to the current generation of gamers. In conclusion, Mikami's
goal was achieved... He made possible the rebirth of the franchise.
As it was already schedule in 2004, Mikami was transferred over to Clover Studio
after production of the GameCube version of RE4 came to an end.
-Mikami & Platinum Games.-
Clover Studio employed an all-star lineup of Capcom development talent,
including Atsushi Inaba (producer of Steel Battalion and Viewtiful Joe),
Shinji Mikami (Resident Evil creator), and Hideki Kamiya (Devil May Cry
The developer was based in Osaka, Japan, where Capcom itself is also headquartered.
Clover Studio was so named as an abbreviation of "creativity lover" and because
"the four-leaf clover...signifies happiness and creativity." The company was set up to
make innovative games that would "inspire the future of gaming."
At Clover Studio, Mikami supervised the development God Hand (PS2),
a Beat'em-up that parodies the Japanese and American culture.
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 will be
officially dissolved at the end of March 2007.
In February 2007, several ex-members of Clover Studio opened a new videogame development studio called
The studio was formed by Atsushi Inaba as a way to get back to Clover Studio's roots. Inaba has worked
on several of Capcom's most important titles, including Phoenix Wright; Devil May Cry;
Resident Evil: Code Veronica and Okami.
Seeds Inc. later changed it's named to Platinum Games. The first 4 games to be produced by said company were set
to be published by SEGA. One of those 4 games is being created and developed by Mikami