You know him as the director of the original Resident Evil and the man behind the upcoming horror game, The Evil Within, but back before he joined Capcom, when he was a starry-eyed youth, Shinji Mikami just wanted the free food… and ended up with a free copy of Willow.
“When I was a student, I never intended to get into video game creation.” Mikami admitted in an interview with Weekly Famitsu. “There was a time when I considered being a businessman or a bank clerk.”
Mikami’s entry into the video game world happened when a friend living in the same apartment complex invited him to a Capcom company presentation. “Apparently, it was a buffet-style presentation, and I thought, ‘I can get a free meal.'” Mikami said. At the time, Mikami noted that he enjoyed playing Ghosts ‘n Goblins but didn’t realise that Capcom was the developer. “I heard a speech by the president at the time, Mr. Tsujimoto (Kenzo Tsujimoto, current CEO of Capcom) and thought, ‘this company looks interesting.'” Mikami spoke with the head of development and decided to take the entry exam.
The entry exam for Capcom at the time was very different from the standard company entrance exam. According to Mikami, after taking a written test, there was an interview and people who passed both the written test and interview got a second interview with Tsujimoto himself. “All the results, including whether you were hired or not, were announced the same day you took the test. It was a very unorthodox system.” Mikami said with a laugh.
The acceptance into Capcom was apparently equally, if not more unorthodox. “At the very end, people who were hired were given a copy of the NES game, Willow,” Mikami explained. “but I didn’t get a copy.”
While at the time it seemed as though Mikami didn’t make it into Capcom, as fate would have it, and as we all know, he eventually did and went on to establish a legacy in horror games. A week after his exam, Mikami received a call telling him that he had been accepted and was hired. As for his promised prize, “I got my copy of Willow after that.” Mikami added with a laugh.
I wonder if he still has it.