Believe it or not, but some of your favorite games began life as completely different titles. Balderdash, you might say. Poppycock, even. While it’s known that game development is more rocky than smooth, there have been a number of instances when devs and producers take their widely-anticipated title back to the drawing board.
It’s not a pretty sight when games become so much of a money pit that they’re inexplicably axed. These are the sad casualties of gamingdom. However, in the best of times, development hell can do wonders for a title - even splintering gameplay ideas into other new franchises.
We’ve collected our favorite well- and lesser-known origin stories to share with you. Behold - games with a messy birthing process!
Resident Evil was such a fantastic success for the original PlayStation in 1996 that rumblings of a sequel in development didn’t surprise anybody. Work began on Resident Evil 2 shortly after Part 1 for a release in spring 1997; however the final game wasn’t released until January 1998. RE1.5 is the codename Capcom used for the version that never made it.
Reportedly, producer Shinji Mikami was none too pleased at how the project was shaping up. Around seventy percent was complete when Mikami decided to rebuild the entire thing. If your memory of RE2 is a little fuzzy (it’s been over 10 years), allow us to detail the changes.
For one, the most notable environment in RE2 was the western-style architecture of the Raccoon City police department, almost resembling that of an older courthouse. It was so large that many thought it was a great substitute for the mansion of RE1. The original vision of the police department was cramped with same-y rooms and appeared to be “too” modern. Watch the video and you’ll see how boring it looks. Blue filter!
You’ve probably also noticed the blonde female protagonist by now. Before Claire Redfield, the original female character was Elza Walker, a young college student who was also a motorcyclist. Seeing that the motorcyclist angle was far too interesting (sarcasm), she was changed to Redfield, adding dramatic heft by being tied to the first game.
All that remains of 1.5 are a handful of old screenshots and gameplay footage. Though the changes weren’t dramatic, the game appears to be better for them.
Since its official announcement in 2001, RE4 languished in development until its release on the GameCube in early 2005. Once the title finally saw the light of day, we wondered collectively why the game took so damn long and how the franchise went from zombies to possessed Spaniards. This highly-anticipated title saw no less than five versions, each of which had considerable progress before changing.
The first prototype of RE4 featured large, gothic castles and considerably faster gameplay. Not wanting to abandon a solid idea, RE2 and RE4 director Hideki Kamiya continued work on this PS2 title, even incorporating gameplay from a bug found in Onimusha, another Capcom game. Kamiya found that he could keep enemies in the air by continually slashing at them. These ideas became the foundation for Devil May Cry and its juggle-happy sword/gun combos.
Above: Resident Evil 4 Part 1
The trailer for the second version of RE4 came at the Tokyo Game Show in 2002 and is presented below. Now dubbed the “Fog Version,” the trailer presents Leon Kennedy wandering through not only the hallways of a gothic castle during a stormy night, but a giant airship as well. Leon also fires at a mysterious black fog/creature, which suddenly overtakes him. Apparently, Leon would have been “possessed” as the trailer indicates by the Progenitor virus, whatever the hell that is.
Gameplay footage of the “Hooked Man Version,” appeared at E3 2005 and was similar to the Fog Version trailer. Despite having no fog, there seems to be a greater shift towards the supernatural. It seems as the tank controls were still intact, as Leon wanders through the bizarre hallways of a spooky mansion. Whenever anything attacks Leon though, the screen tints in a bizarre blue filter during the threat at hand. Among the enemies are Suits of Armor (carried over to the final version), knife-wielding baby dolls, and a ghost armed with a hook. The over-the-shoulder view and laser sight are used in the final game, but appear to only be used for aiming in this version.
Version four wasn’t even shown publically because it was deemed “too formulaic,” but it did have zombies. With this version scrapped, somehow the game was reinvented yet again, but in a fashion no one would expect. RE4 had a different control scheme, running enemies and a storyline without the Umbrella Corporation. Thankfully, it worked and is arguably one of the best action/survival-horror games ever made.
Above: Zombies! Boogety boogety!