The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time #68: Resident Evil

“The Scientifically Proven Best Video Games of All Time” is a statistical meta-analysis of 44 “Best Video Games of All Time” lists that were published between 1995 and 2016. Catch up on how we decided to sort the games and the rest of the Top 100 in the Introduction.

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If a Bizarro Universe doppelganger of Jerry Seinfeld was a hacky comedian who worked the nerd belt, I have a feeling he’d start off every set with, “What’s the deal with all the zombies?” And he wouldn’t be wrong. Zombies are everywhere. Just absolutely everywhere. But why? And why now? If you trace the epidemic all the way back to patient zero, it leads to a publisher named Capcom and their desire to create a scary game with zombies known as Resident Evil.

George A. Romero is rightly considered the godfather of the modern zombie movie. Starting with 1968’s Night of the Living Dead, his first film inspired a horde of filmmakers and lead to a pair of sequels in 1978 and 1985. But after the release of Day of the Dead and Dan O’Bannon’s Return of the Living Dead, the genre fell out of favor with the moviegoing public and was reanimated only when some low-budget film studio wanted to add something to the direct-to-video slush pile. Not even Romero himself, who helped visual effects master Tom Savini remake Night of the Living Dead in 1990, could bring it back to life.

Six years later, Capcom brought the zed menace back in a big way with Resident Evil. First released on Sony’s fledgling PlayStation console (and eventually re-released 12 times over the next 20 years), the game’s amateurish acting and stiff tank-like controls never obscured the terrifying zombie tale underneath. You might say that exploring Spencer Mansion and delving deeper into the story behind the T-Virus infected players in a way that few games ever had before.

Resident Evil was heavily inspired by 1989’s Sweet Home, an NES-era RPG that was only released in Japan. Like the S.T.A.R.S. members at the center of Resident Evil, Sweet Home’s five characters were trapped in a haunted mansion, with survival and escape their only options. To accomplish this, players needed to solve a series of puzzles linked to everyday items that could only be found by constantly backtracking across the map. Each puzzle would unlock a new section of the house, which also parceled out Sweet Home’s intricate storyline through hidden messages and abandoned diaries.

Aside from adding 3D character models and cinematic pre-rendered backgrounds. Resident Evil’s Director, Shinji Mikami, attempted to mirror Sweet Home’s design as closely as possible. He even enlisted the earlier game’s Director, Tokuro Fujiwara, to help with Resident Evil’s development. Their combined expertise ultimately created a game that became a classic puzzle-action adventure and helped rebirth a genre that had long been on life support.

Before our Bizarro Jerry is hooked from the stage, he tells another zombie joke. He says that Tony Montana got it wrong. It’s not “First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women.” But if you’re Capcom, it goes “First you get the players, then you get the filmmakers, then you get market oversaturation.” And the filmmakers were very interested in Resident Evil.

Rather than search for a pale imitation, Capcom went straight to George Romero to craft the Resident Evil film adaptation. His script was very faithful to the game, but ultimately Capcom and Sony Pictures chose to go with Paul W.S. Anderson and his concept, which served as a prequel to the (at the time) trilogy of games. No zombie fan would ever dare say a cross word about Romero, but this choice turned out to be quite profitable for Capcom and Sony Pictures. And it opened the floodgates to a slew of sequels (the seventh, and final, film in the series was released in January 2017) and the reanimation of the genre as a whole.

Danny Boyle gave us zombies that were fast and British in 28 Days Later (2002). Zack Snyder took those fast zombies and dropped them into a Dawn of the Dead remake (2004) that was more popular with moviegoers than any zombie movie before. George Romero got back into the game and directed Land of the Dead (2005), his first zombie movie in 20 years. Max Brooks was inspired by Romero’s return and slowed the undead hordes back down for his satirical how-to manual, The Zombie Survival Guide (2003), and a related novel, World War Z (2006). It was at this point that survivalists started using a hypothetical undead apocalypse as an excuse to stock up on anti-zombie bullets. But that didn’t stop the CDC from using these mostly tongue-in-cheek “zombie survival plan” discussions as a way to get the public interested in disaster preparedness.

And the games… so many games. House of the Dead. Siren. Stubbs the Zombie. Dead Rising. Left 4 Dead. Dead Space. Call of Duty’s Zombies Mode. Plants vs Zombies. Dead Nation. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. Yakuza: Dead Souls. Dead Island. Lollipop Chainsaw. DayZ. ZombiU. The Walking Dead (which was itself based off of a popular comic and television show). The Last of Us. The Evil Within. I could go on.

People will tell you that zombies can serve as a metaphor for almost anything. Romero used the undead to satirize humanity’s growing obsessions with television (Night) and consumerism (Dawn) before turning his sights on the over-militarization of the US (Day). He would later add income inequality (Land) and the rise of YouTube culture (Diary) to his list of targets. A 2013 Esquire essay even held up the shuffling zombie as a stand-in for our fears of Communism, disease, and terrorism.

It’s this versatility that has made the zombie genre so resilient. And it was a little game called Resident Evil that resurrected it after the world left it for dead.


Resident Evil has been re-released so many times that you might own a copy and not even realize it. It originally launched for the PlayStation in 1996 and received two updates before the turn of the millennium… a Director’s Cut and a Director’s Cut (Dual Shock Version). The latter is also available to download from the PlayStation Store, and it’s playable on the PS3 and PSP.

A handheld remake, Resident Evil: Deadly Silence, was released for the DS in 2006. In addition to the original game, it added optional touchscreen controls and a more difficult “Rebirth Mode.”

Finally, the Resident Evil remake for the GameCube (affectionately known as the “REmake” among fans) launched in 2002 with updated graphics, revised puzzles, and an expanded storyline. This version of the game was eventually re-released for the PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One in 2015.


Publisher: Capcom
Developer: Capcom
Release Date: March 30, 1996 (PlayStation), April 30, 2002 (GameCube), February 7, 2006 (DS), January 20, 2015 (PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360, Xbox One)

Average Ranking: 72.49
Selection Percentage: 39.53% (17/43)
Scientifically Proven Score: 132.95

Publication Rankings For Resident Evil
Hyper (1995) NR

Next Gen (1996)

91

Next Gen (1999)

13

Edge (2000)

32
GI (2001) NR

GameSpy (2001)

NR

Edge (2003)

NR

EW/G4TV (2003)

22
GameSpot (2003) NR

IGN (2003)

NR

1UP (2004)

NR

The Age (2005)

NR
IGN (2005) NR

Yahoo! Games UK (2005)

37

Edge (2007)

92

IGN (2007)

73
IGN HoF (2007) 1*

Stuff UK (2008)

NR

Edge (2009)

97

Empire (2009)

25
GI (2009) 106

FHM (2010)

NR

GamesTM (2010)

1*

The Phoenix (2010)

NR
Gamereactor (2011) NR

GamesRadar (2011)

NR

Stuff UK (2011)

NR

1UP (2012)

28
G4TV (2012) 81

GamesRadar (2012)

NR

Time (2012)

1*

EPN (2013)

NR
GamesRadar (2013) NR

Gaming Bolt (2013)

NR

PC & Tech Authority (2013)

NR

GamesRadar (2014)

NR
Popular Mechanics (2014) NR

Slant Magazine (2014)

NR

Stuff UK (2014)

6*

Edge (2015)

NR
GamesRadar (2015) NR

IGN (2015)

NR

GamesMaster (2016)

55

Time (2016)

NR

Box Office Mojo – Zombie Movies

Butterworth, Scott – GameSpot – Resident Evil Creator Shinji Mikami Reflects on the Series’ Roots – 2016

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Zombie Preparedness – 2011

Hornady Manufacturing – Zombie Max Ammunition

Kennedy, Sam – GameSpot – Romero Off the Resident Evil Movie – 2000

Marche, Stephen – Esquire – Why Zombies Are Everywhere Now – 2013

Tieryas, Peter – Kotaku – The NES Game That Inspired Resident Evil – 2015

This entry was posted in DS, Features, PC, PS3, PS4, Retro, SPBVGOAT, Top Story, Wii, Xbox 360, Xbox One and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

John Scalzo is Warp Zoned’s Editor-In-Chief and resident retro gaming expert. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at john AT warpzoned DOT com.


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