In the mid ’90s Shinji Mikami began to work on a new horror game set,just like NES’ Sweet Home, in a large building surrounded by a forest. Maybe influenced by the recent success of Doom, the project was initially conceived as a FPS. We know next to nothing about this first prototype, but it would have surely been one of the most advanced shooter created yet. However at the end Capcom selected another pc game, Alone in the Dark, as a model for their new product, and Resident Evil / Bio Hazard became an action adventure with a strong emphasis on survival.
Unfortunately, we don’t know much about the first draft of the story, but at least we have few artworks about Dewey and Gelzer, two beta characters, later replaced by Rebecca and Barry, that represented respectively the strong guy (in this case a cyborg) and the comic partner. We can only speculate that at the beginning the narrative was less serious, and the graphic style not that realistic (for the standards of the time).
After one year of development, in 1995, previews of the first playable builds of Resident Evil started to appear in gaming magazines.
In these screens we can see that originally the game could have been played in co-op. Jill also had a different costume and the fight with the snake was in the room that connects the house with the garden. We don’t know if in this early beta there were still leftovers of the removed locations in the code (the cementery, the paths in the forest) that were, like Trevor’s letters, later reintroduced in the RE remake for the Gamecube.
Resident Evil 08/04/1995
In 2010, Tyrant of resident-evil-beta.de recovered a beta of Resident Evil that dates back to 08/04/1995. It seems to be similar to the V-Jump ’95 build, so for a list of the main differences see the paragraph below. Unfortunately, in this version the co-op mode was already removed, even if some leftovers can still be found in the folders of the iso. Only Chris is playable, and it is not possible to see the map or access the inventory. Interestingly, you can change weapons in real-time. Also, in this beta Barry can save Chris too, but just because they didn’t make the event exclusive to Jill’s scenario yet. In 2011, Hidden Palace released this particular build to the public.
Notice how Dewey and Gelzer’s character portraits are still present in the game’s code.
V-Jump ’95 Presentation
In the video of the V-Jump ’95 Presentation, linked below, we can see an early beta with some differences:
- No cutscenes
- Some different camera angles
- Chris polygonal model was less detailed and he began the game armed
- Different music and japanese voices
- All the zombies had white jackets
- The blue gallery had four pillars
- Some minor differences in many rooms
- Kenneth Sullivan (the corpse in the backroom) is in another location in the final game
- Spiders instead of dogs in the corridor (it still happens in the released version when you return in the mansion after the guardhouse)
- Hunters at the beginning of the game!
- No metal plate for the crests in the outside corridor
- The first fight against the snake was moved in a room in the first floor in the final game
- The room where chris fights the snake in the video is different in the final version
Probably this build is more recent than the 08/04/1995 one, but not by much.
Maximum console 1996 Preview
A slightly different Tyrant
Wesker in the plant room? Most likely it was just a placeholder, but as we know, in the final version Wesker is in the guardhouse, we meet him after the boss… what if at the beginning we could fight the plant with him?
Also, in the same issue, the article mentions a graveyard among the other locations of the game. This is strange, because if it was still planned to be included we should have at least some screenshots of it. Maybe it got dropped at the end of the development? and if so, why it wasn’t included in the director’s cut ?
More unseen material can be found in a demo called Resident Evil Trial. This version was more or less the same as the final game but there were still some differences: no keyboard in the hall, the plant’s book was in the tiger’s statue, the shield was in the blue hall, many items were in other places, some camera angles were different, etc etc.
Far more interesting are the objects that can be unlocked in the demo with the action replay: a pickaxe (probably used in the caves), Oil (used to burn zombies like in REmake?), beta version of the ink cartridges, the magnum and flamethrower ammo. Also, originally Bio Hazard was meant to have Japanese voices, but they were changed as Shinji Mikami felt that it wasn’t realistic for the characters to speak another language, as they were supposed to be American.
Thanks to KeijiDragon for the video with the original japanese dialogue!