Resident Evil 4 was released as a GameCube exclusive. And when Capcom ported the game to the PlayStation 2, Resident Evil creator Shinji Mikami is quoted as saying he would “cut [his] own head off”. That infamous quote was probably a mistranslation. But there’s a reason why Mikami was so antagonistic towards Sony. What’s more, there’s a reason why the game didn’t end up first on the original Xbox, instead.
According to Eurogamer, Mikami wanted to get Resident Evil away from Sony. He saw two new, upcoming consoles: the GameCube and the Xbox. Xbox co-creator Kevin Bachus recalls the meeting with Mikami — a meeting that went horribly.
The entire meeting was conducted in Japanese, and Bachus, who doesn’t speak Japanese, got notes explaining what was being said. Mikami’s body language and tone, however, showed that he wasn’t exactly pleased by what he was hearing from the Xbox Japan staff. The meeting ended abruptly, Mikami bowed, and left.
From the Eurogamer piece:
The translator explained: Mikami had confirmed what Microsoft had heard, that he was frustrated developing for PlayStation 2, which was tough to work with. But his team’s bonuses were tied to game sales. He needed a reason, a way to explain the shift away from the wildly successful PlayStation 2, the dominant platform of the time, to the Xbox, which had yet to launch, and which in most Japanese eyes was doomed to failure. “What do you guys have to offer?” he asked, bluntly.
For Mikami, Nintendo said games were toys, created by the brilliant Shigeru Miyamoto. Sony said games are entertainment, powered by the Emotion Engine. And Microsoft had no answer.
“I almost jumped out the window because we had said repeatedly over and over and over that we aspire to enable games that could be considered to be art, much like film,” Bachus recalls. “So the guy who reported to me said, ‘Oh that’s so great! I wish that I had known that.’ But unfortunately it was too late.”
Microsoft tried to make another go with Mikami, but the Resident Evil creator had already made an agreement with Nintendo. “That’s why Resident Evil 4 was a Nintendo exclusive, and it took a while for it to come to Xbox,” says Bachus. “That was very frustrating.” If it’s any consolation, the whole ordeal didn’t seem like a cake walk for Mikami, either.
Why Xbox Failed in Japan [Eurogamer]