Capcom’s 2005 release Resident Evil 4 brought with it an over-the-shoulder camera perspective, but to writer/director Shinji Mikami, it just felt like a natural evolution of the series. In a recently released YouTube video looking back on the game, Mikami told producer Jun Takeuchi that he didn’t really understand how important it would become.
“To us, personally, we just thought that angle was better,” explained Mikami in the video. Earlier Resident Evil titles relied on fixed camera angles, and during the development of Resident Evil 4, the team chose to implement a third-person perspective.
“We weren’t trying to do something new or groundbreaking, there was none of that,” he continued. “We weren’t planning on doing something innovative, but in the end everyone kept saying we did.”
Outside of Resident Evil, Mikami’s additional Capcom credits include creating Dino Crisis and serving as an executive producer for the first Devil May Cry and Viewtiful Joe. He left Capcom in 2006, and would later found developer Tango Gameworks, where he directed 2014’s The Evil Within and executive produced this year’s Ghostwire: Tokyo.
The behind-shoulder perspective caught on with the rest of the games industry, so much so that Takeuchi recounted a story where developers from Epic Games told him that Gears of War’s shooting and perspective were influenced by the zombie game’s camera.
“During the development of Lost Planet, at our first E3, we were approached by the Gears of War team,” he said. “A bunch of them were asking why we weren’t using the Resident Evil 4 camera in the game. We were like: ‘Well, it’s a completely different game.’”
Mikami has received praise for changing the camera in the years since, with the very first person to do so being Super Smash Bros. director Mashairo Sakurai. Even so, he admitted that it’s “weird” to consider what was a small change at the time to be a staple of action games now.
“It doesn’t really hit you, even with all that praise. You’re not like, ‘I did it!’, it’s more like ‘this ought to work, I guess’.”
Capcom will release a remake of Resident Evil 4 on March 24, 2023. In 2013, we published a postmortem on the original Resident Evil 4, which features insight from cinematics lead Yoshiaki Hirabayashi on how Capcom overhauled the game to become the juggernaut that it is.