Shinji Mikami was born on August 11th, 1965 in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi, Japan, he had a fascination with horror films from an extremely young age. Although he had his young aspirations set on becoming an F1 driver, he loved horror films such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Evil Within.
Upon graduating high school, he undertook studies of product and merchandise at Doshisha University. It wasn’t until sometime later that he would become the father-of-horror in the video game industry. He wasn’t always working on making players piss their pants; he has worked on titles throughout his career such as Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Goof Troop, Aladdin, Phoenix Wright, Viewtiful Joe, and the unique Steel Battalion.
I Can Show You the World, S.T.A.R.S.
Mikami gained interest in the gaming industry after attending a meet-and-greet session hosted by Capcom for graduates of his university. He was offered a position and started work at Capcom as a junior game designer in 1990.
He learned and sharpened his craft as he was tasked with working on 3 major Disney IPs; Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Goof Troop, and my personal childhood favorite, Aladdin. After the release of Goof Troop, Mikami wanted to do what he loved, Horror.
Mikami wanted to make a horror game for the PlayStation which was set in a haunted mansion. The game was released as “biohazard” in Japan and “Resident Evil” in North America in 1996 which quickly became a PlayStation classic and later released on the Sega Saturn as well as a remaster/remake during the 6th anniversary of the title in 2002 being the definitive version of the game. Resident Evil showed that the “survival horror” genre of game was something that fans wanted.
Upon the success of Resident Evil, Mikami was elevated from a planner to the producer role within the Capcom company and promptly started work on Resident Evil 2. After the successful release of Resident Evil 2, he then started work on Resident Evil 3: Nemesis.
Needless to say, he’s really been able to channel his love for horror.
Thanks to the continued success of Resident Evil titles, Mikami was essentially awarded his own studio under the name of Capcom Production Studio 4 which consisted of staff primarily who worked on the survival horror games with Mikami.
During his tenure at Capcom Production Studio 4, he went on to make Resident Evil: Code Veronica for the Sega Dreamcast system which would later be expanded on as Resident Evil: Code Veronica X.
Resident Evil Doesn’t Always Equal Success – How Shinji Mikami Rose from Past Failures
It is an understatement to say that Mikami had nothing short of brilliance with his continued successes on the Resident Evil franchise. But as each great creator can tell you, for each success, there is an equal or more amount of failure to be had.
Resident Evil Zero was harbored to a luke-warm reaction but this did not discourage Mikami. He went to work on a number of new and old IPs for Capcom staying faithful to the Nintendo hardware that he had been working on. A couple of these franchises were critically acclaimed such as Viewtiful Joe and Resident Evil 4.
Resident Evil 4 quickly became one of the GameCube’s most highly selling titles during the system’s lifespan. As a GameCube exclusive title at the time, Mikami was even quoted as saying that he would “take his own life” if the game were to be released on another platform.
Where Resident Evil 4 was a resounding success thanks in part to its new 3rd person over the shoulder view, much less can be said about P.N.03. The game was a commercial and critical flop.
After the release of these titles, he was transferred to a different division which didn’t last long as he then left to join Seeds Inc., which is known today as Platinum Games where he worked on the comical beat’em up the title “God Hand”.
A short 3 years after this, he revealed that he formed a private studio called Straight Story which will work in close conjunction with Platinum Games, to which he later announced that it will be closing its doors after the completion of the title “Vanquish”.
He has since announced that he will be directing one final game with his next project titled “GhostWire: Tokyo” for the PS4.
The Future of Shinji Mikami and Future Games
It would be a discredit to Mikami to say that he isn’t a legend in his own right. Sure, he didn’t work on many titles, considering how long his career was. But the titles that he did work on and direct became some of the generation-defining titles that we’ve come to love.
Only time will tell if GhostWire is really the last game he will direct or if he will lend his talent to further titles in the future. But I for one, hope that he keeps pushing the boundary with the survival horror style of the game as only he can do.