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True story: It was 1998, and owning a PlayStation console was way out of my reach. Sure, I had loving parents but they couldn’t exactly afford to spend all those bucks on a video game console, especially when I had a Golden China and plenty of bootleg NES game cartridges. What I could do however, was rent a PlayStation from my neaby VHS rental shop.

Dudes, I slaved away for weeks, doing odd jobs and earning the cash to afford a glorious weekend of real video gaming using those fancy new CD-ROMs that games came on. The grafting paid off, my video store handed me a PlayStation in the neatest of leather rucksacks with which to transport it and all I had to do was select a video game.

Nuclear Strike perhaps? Nah. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night? Sorry, but I had been burnt bad by Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest. Then I saw it on the shelf. A rotting face, peering at me from the cover of a CD-ROM case and beckoning me to come close to it. That game was Resident Evil 2, and renting it was possibly the worst thing I ever did.

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That’s because my very first experience with a PlayStation console almost resulted in me crapping my pants and spending three nights without sleep because I was terrified beyond belief at the idea of my flesh being eaten by an undead horde. I’m older now, wiser and still an absolute coward. Thing is, I can appreciate Resident Evil 2 for the ground-breaking advances that it made in its genre and the video game industry.

A game that turns a staggering twenty this week on January 21. Hell, it’s almost old enough to buy a beer in the US. Twenty years later, and the legacy of Resident Evil 2 is still stronger than ever. It expanded its genre, it introduced new ideas and its storyline was revolutionary at the time for splitting the narrative and then overlapping your choices into consequential changes.

There’s a lot that you probably do know about Resident Evil 2. There’s a lot that you might not know about the gory sequel as well. Here’s a look at twenty terrifying trivia facts about Resident Evil 2:

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  • Production on Resident Evil 2 began a month after development on the first game was finished in 1996.
  • The early build of the first sequel was known as Resident Evil 1.5 by producer Shinji Mikami, with the first footage of it in action being shown at the V Jump Festival in July of 1996.
  • The original story retained Leon S. Kennedy, but the female protagonist was Elza Walker instead of Claire Redfield.

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  • Elza and Leon’s narrative paths would remain closed off from each other in this build, never crossing once as they attempted to survive the Raccoon City outbreak.
  • Each character had two allies to help support them: Leon had fellow police officer Marvin Branagh and the scientist Linda, while Elza could rely on Sherry Birkin and a civilian by the name of John.
  • John would eventually be redesigned as the gun shop owownerobert Kendo.

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  • The police department seen in Resident Evil 1.5 was originally smaller and more modern in its design, before it was completely overhauled in favour of the classic location that players explored.
  • Zombies were originally rendered with fewer polygons, thus allowing more of them to be on the screen and create a deeper sense of panic in the player.
  • Players could originally equip gear such as armour and that allowed them to carry more items and weapons. This gear resulted in cosmetic changes, and could even be damaged.
  • Despite the production continuing steadily on throughout 1996 and into 1997, creative disagreements between director Hideki Kamiya, producer Shinji Mikami and the higher-ups at Capcom resulted in the Resident Evil 1.5 build (which was at 60-80% finished according to several reports) being scrapped.
  • Reasons given? Mikami wasn’t happy with the quality of the assembled game thus far, gameplay was criticised for being “dull and boring” and Capcom supervisor Yoshiki Okamoto was unhappy with the story being a conclusive end to the zombie saga.

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  • Okamoto wanted a sequel that would serve as springboard for future sequels and spin-offs, creating a universe of possibilities in the same vein as James Bond and the Gundam series.
  • Screenwriter Noboru Sugimura was brought to help consult on the script, eventually earning a full-time position as the story was rewritten.
  • New story elements included a larger Hollywood influence, Elza Walker became Claire Redfield and the narratives of the two lead characters became linked.
  • With most of the assets of Resident Evil 1.5 being unrecyclable, work began on new environments that were designed to be more extravagant and stylised.
  • The software program O2 was used, resulting in each environment needing between two to three weeks of rendering time.

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  • Zombies were also reduced in number, with no more than seven on screen at a time so that Leon and Claire could benefit from a bump in the polygons used to render their detailed forms.
  • For the Western release, the North American version of Resident Evil 2 used more gratuitously violent game over screens and had an increase in difficulty in an effort to discourage people from renting it for a weekend marathon session.

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  • With a $5 million advertising budget behind it, Capcom was banking on Resident Evil 2 selling two million copies during its lifetime. The sequel ended up selling over 4.96 million units on the PlayStation alone and another 810 000 copies of the Dual Shock Version.
  • Resident Evil 2’s story would be continued in a wide variety of media that included western comic books, Korean manhua, written novels, drama albums and even a radio drama.

This week is hopefullly a special one, as its high time that a new generation of fans learns to don a pair of brown pants to disguise the leftover stains of fear that Resident Evil 2 is capable on unleashing on our bowels. Say Capcom, got any footage lying around to show us of that HD remaster?

Last Updated: January 16, 2018

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