Games industry icons: Shinji Mikami

Games industry icons: Shinji Mikami
Shinji Mikami was born on August 11, 1965 in Iwakuni, Japan, a city a good 40 kilometers southwest of Hiroshima. While his enthusiasm as a child was especially for racing cars and Formula 1, as a teenager he was enthusiastic about various martial arts, above all kendo, karate and wrestling. Video games, on the other hand, initially hardly interest him at all. The whole thing even goes so far that he always refuses a friend who repeatedly invites him to accompany him to the nearest gambling hall.

Only when this very friend visits him one day and deliberately wrote an article on one If he leaves a wrestling game with him, his interest in gaming is piqued. From now on, Mikami can also take advantage of the arcade around the corner, especially a Sega Beat'em Up machine called Appoooh from 1984. However, his true passion for video games remains hidden at first.

After finishing school Mikami moves to Dōshisha University in Kyoto, where she studies product and merchandise development. He graduated in the early 1990s. However, he still lacks a suitable job, which is why he is feverishly looking around, including at the Nippon Steel Corporation, which unfortunately rejected his application.

But fate means well with the then 25-year-old. Shortly afterwards, a friend takes him to a networking event that the Japanese game developer and publisher Capcom is organizing for university graduates. A common practice in Japan, which aims to bring companies and potential job candidates together. At that point in time, Mikami hardly knew anything about Capcom, but was impressed by the company's presentation and the upcoming IPO. After talks with Yoshiki Okamoto, a game designer, and Akio Sakai, the head of the department at the time, he was invited to the entrance exam - along with almost 50 other applicants.

Table of contents

Page 1 Icons of the game industry: Shinji Mikami - Page 1 1.1 The beginnings at Capcom 1.2 Mikami's streak of success continues 1.3 A memorable deal with Nintendo Page 2 Icons of the game industry: Shinji Mikami - Page 2 2.1 The Capcom Five are taking shape 2.2 The difficult birth of Resident Evil 4 2.3 From Clover Studio to Platinum Games 2.4 A spirited restart with Tango Gameworks Page 3 Image gallery for "Icons of the game industry: Shinji Mikami" Recommended editorial content Here you will find external content from [PLATFORM]. To protect your personal data, external integrations are only displayed if you confirm this by clicking on "Load all external content": Load all external content I consent to external content being displayed to me. This means that personal data is transmitted to third-party platforms. Read more about our privacy policy . External content More on this in our data protection declaration. The aptitude test consists of two parts, a written test and an interview. Those who successfully complete both are called to the chairman's office, receive a copy of Capcom's NES role-playing game Willow, and have the job in their pocket. Unfortunately, Mikami does not belong to this group; like dozens of others, he is sent home in the early afternoon. The end? Not quite! A week later the phone suddenly rings: someone from Capcom's HR department brings him the good news that there has been a mix-up. Mikami is a junior game designer and can start right away.

The beginnings at Capcom

First, Mikami starts with a little quiz game called Capcom Quiz: Hatena? no Daibōken, which he completes after just over three months. His superiors are satisfied, which is why they leave him with further projects. It starts with the Game Boy adventure Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which appears on November 1, 1991, but hardly knocks anyone off their feet. Who Framed Roger Rabbit for the Game Boy (1991) is one of the first games in which Mikami is the game designer. Unfortunately the puzzles are ridiculously easy, which is why the adventure is panned by many trade magazines. Source: Moby Games

Totally different Mikami's second project: Goof Troop for the Super Nintendo turns out to be a motley, smartly designed action adventure with Disney hero Goofy and his son Max in the lead roles. Above all, the well thought-out two-player mode and the balanced mix of fair fights and varied puzzles ensure a largely positive media response.

The same applies to Mikami's next Nintendo project: the platformer Disney's Aladdin - not to be confused with Disney's Aladdin from the pen of David Perry, which was released a few weeks earlier for Sega's Mega Drive. Thanks to lovingly animated graphics, successful level design and lively music, Aladdin hops and jumps into the hearts of almost 1.8 million Super Nintendo fans and lifts Mikami's reputation at Capcom to a new level in record time.

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Icons of the game industry: Sid Meier - ingenious creative mind with a knack for hits var lstExcludedArticleTicker = '1366568,1363602,1344316'; While Mikami Aladdin is still finishing, the busy Japanese is also taking care of another major Capcom project. A new horror game in the style of the 1989 Famicom title Sweet Home is planned for Sony's upcoming Playstation console. Mikami accepts the challenge, analyzes the mechanics of Sweet Home down to the smallest detail and thinks about how a new edition can work.

The winding mansion setting, the management of only a limited inventory, doors as loading screens, notes with Notes on the story, clearly visible animations of dying, numerous puzzles, different end sequences - all these and other elements are taken from Sweet Home. Resident Evil from 1996 is Mikami's first masterpiece. Exciting fan fact: a prototype even had a local co-op mode. However, the approach has been put aside again because the technical implementation did not convince Mikami. Source: Capcom

In order to create as intense a feeling of being right in the middle as possible, Mikami relies on the first prototype for the first prototype. However, since Capcom has only had little experience in this area and the desired visual quality cannot be achieved, the team discards the idea again. The whole project stood on the brink for a while - until one day Mikami discovered the 1992 Alone in the Dark by Infogrames. He does not find the fixed camera perspective used there ideal, but it works surprisingly well as an alternative, especially since the pre-rendered backgrounds have significantly more details than the originally intended first-person 3D optics.

Thematically, they are initially psychological Focus on horror and ghosts. However, Mikami fears that these subjects will only really inspire die-hard horror fans and that the game will not sell enough units. So he turns in the direction of zombie horror. An important source of inspiration is a famous film by the Italian director Lucio Fulci. Not because he really likes the horror flick, but rather because he wants to improve everything in the game that doesn't work there in his eyes. "I wanted to make a game that passed as good horror entertainment," said Mikami in an interview with the Archipel YouTube channel. Resident Evil 2 (1998) will be published again later in a DualShock version, which adds vibration effects and analog controls. This version will later serve as the basis for conversion to other systems, including the PC version. Source: Capcom

But also other films influence the clear survial direction of the project, in particular a horror classic by Tobe Hooper from 1974: "In The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (published by us as a blood dish in Texas ) At the beginning there is this scene in which a character enters a creepy house ", Mikami told Archipel. "There is this open door. Then Leatherface comes in, kills the character with an ax and drags him away like lifeless cattle. I liked that sudden fear. Also in the first Resident Evil there is the hunter, a creature that suddenly shows up and you The influence of the film certainly resonates. "

After almost three years of development, the time has come on March 22, 1996: Biohazard - the original title - comes onto the market in Japan and receives 38 out of 40 points at Japan's largest video game magazine Famitsu. An absolute top rating, which up to this point was only granted to nine other games tested in Famitsu.

Since many US media also pull out dream notes for the eight days later North American launch, Mikami's masterpiece sells - renamed Resident Evil in the West for legal reasons - excellent soon. Almost four million units were sold worldwide by December 1997 alone, which corresponds to sales of around 200 million dollars.

Mikami's streak of success continues

Due to the immense, not to this extent expected success of Resident Evil, it only takes a month for a sequel to get the green light. Mikami is also back on board for Resident Evil 2, but this time as a producer, in order to gain more experience in budget planning and project management. In Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (1999) Kazuhiro Aoyama takes over the direction of the director, while Mikami holds all the strings together in the background as producer. Source: Capcom

For the post of game director, however, he would like Hideki Kamiya, who was only 25 at the time. "You are the black horse of the new recruits," Mikami once said to Kamiya. "Either you fail spectacularly or you will have huge success." Mikami ended up being right with the choice of his protégé. The team delivers a fantastic end product that sells even better than the first part. 5.1 million times, to be exact!

The result: Mikami also takes on the producer position for Resident Evil 3: Nemesis, so he coordinates the processes in the background and regularly contributes feedback and ideas. One of them is the eponymous Nemesis, which he designs together with Kazuhiro Aoyama. "I wanted to instill a new kind of fear in the game. The Nemesis brings that with it to the highest degree. If it disappears after the first confrontation, then you live in constant fear of the next attack. The idea is that you have the feeling to be stalked ", Mikami recalled in an interview with the official English PlayStation magazine in 2000.

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If you have big dreams, you can fall deep. Hardly anyone in the global gaming industry embodies this simple truth as much as Peter Molyneux. var lstExcludedArticleTicker = '1366568,1335519,1283187'; As part three matures, Mikami also takes care of two other projects. On the one hand there is the Dreamcast-exclusive Resident Evil: Code Veronica, for which he and Yoshiki Okamoto oversee the scenario and the direction of the content. On the other hand, Dino Crisis, where he sits down on the director's chair again. "There was a team at Capcom that was working on original projects. The leader of this group had left the company surprisingly. So they came to me and asked what they could do," recalls Mikami to Archipel. El Gigante on the march! Resident Evil 4 (seen here in the PC version from 2007) has a clear focus on action and confronts protagonist Leon S. Kennedy with a whole armada of fearsome enemies. Source: Capcom

What follows are tons of brainstorming rounds under Mikami's leadership, at the end of which the decision is made to tackle a spiritual successor to Resident Evil. Only with dinosaurs as the central enemy type and settled on a remote island. The concept is well received and in 1999 Capcom brought another blockbuster, which sold 2.4 million times in the Playstation version alone. Code Veronica, on the other hand, which lets survival fans slip into the role of Claire Redfield from February 2000, generates 1.14 million sales. That doesn't sound like much, but for the Dreamcast standards of the time it was actually a considerable amount. In September 2000, with Dino Crisis 2, another million seller appeared, in which Mikami was involved. This time, however, "only" as executive producer.

A memorable deal with Nintendo

The continued success of the Resident Evil and Dino Crisis brands brings a lot of money into Capcom's cash register and ensures that Mikami also had a lot of influence and a lot to do in the following years. Be it as a consultant for the Game Boy adventure Resident Evil: Gaiden, as a producer for the PS2 and Dreamcast version of Resident Evil - Code: Veronica X or as executive producer of the criminal defense adventure: Gyakuten Saiban (better in the West known as Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney) and the hack'n'slash hit Devil May Cry - in 2001 alone it appears in the credits of four successful video games. If it’s up to Mikami, Resident Evil - Code: Veronica (2000) would have deserved a number in the name rather than part three. Extended versions for PS2, Gamecube, PS3 and Xbox 360 appeared later under the name Resident Evil - Code: Veronica X. Source: Capcom

2001 is however also the year in which he made a much discussed decision within the company meets. Because on September 13th, Mikami announced a deal that not only guarantees Nintendo Gamecube versions of Resident Evil 2, Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Resident Evil - Code Veronica X, but also the exclusive rights for all upcoming Resident Evil games with one Number in the name.

We'll start with an extensive remake of the first part, which he coordinates as game director, as well as a prequel for it. The latter is called Resident Evil Zero, tells the story of Rebecca Chambers and will be released in November 2002 - just nine months after the remake.

While the remake has met Capcom's sales expectations of 1.25 million units, it is selling Zero - despite the number in the name - only 1.12 million times and thus 300,000 times less than Capcom had hoped.

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