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If like me, you grew up as a fan of horror movies and sought out anything that featured any form of gore and creepy creatures from the video/games rental store then chances are 1996 was a great year for you as it heralded the arrival of CAPCOM’s soon to be behemoth, Resident Evil. Suddenly games could provide a scare factor that no movie could ever touch by connecting the player with the horrors on the screen and making them emit shrieks of terror that made our parents think Prince was rehearsing in the house.
Never had I felt so immersed in a game than when I had the lights turned off, sat about ten inches from the screen, controller in clammy hand hoping I could make it to the next safe area with two bullets in my gun and not knowing if that squelchy sound was a zombie lurking just off-screen or an indication that I needed to change my underwear.
As the years have rolled on my passion for the Resident Evil franchise has remained, even during the strange light gun phase and the one with the fellatio giraffe, if you know, then you know! Let’s face it, how can you not enjoy a series that features villains that look like a Medieval Bilbo Baggins in one game and Steve Buscemi with tentacles in the next! After recently strutting my stuff through the Romanian setting of the latest entry I decided to update some of the “extended” universe collection of novels when low and behold I discovered a new gem, an unofficial history of the Resident Evil franchise.
Now as a fan and an avid gamer I had a pretty good bit of trivia backed up on my noodle regarding the series that I’d accumulated over the years but a proper chronicle of the development cycle for each title (up to a point) was a must-have. After a couple of well-spent evenings digesting the contents and realizing some of my more Resi centric friends were as unaware as I was that this book existed, it was only right that I whipped out my typewriter, constructed a Jill sandwich and put together my thoughts in the hope that other fans might enjoy this offering.
You have once again entered the world of… Survival Horror!
Released on April 15th 2021 (Just in time for Resident Evil Village) Itchy, Tasty chronicles a twelve-year development history of Resident Evil from the original entry up to Resident Evil 4 with all the spin off’s in-between. The author, Alex Aniel @cvxfreak, has gone to great lengths to gain insight into the entire process behind each title featured within the book. Along the way are exerts of interviews he had with the original creator and prominent members from CAPCOM who spent time in the chair for various titles in the franchise over the years.
The whole book is riddled with fantastic backstories from the early days of inspiration to trial-and-error processes of keeping the franchise fresh in an industry that was becoming more competitive and diverse. For anyone who is a fan of behind-the-scenes knowledge and yes, I am one of those who likes to watch the extra features on Blu-rays, you will feel right at home here. Itchy, Tasty delivers some truly interesting and surprising revelations about the franchise and its often rocky and uncertain development cycles. Though I was privy to certain stories regarding issues the series faced I never knew quite how rough the road to success was and how rough it continued to be after catching lightning in a bottle.
Judging by the name of the book I was of course expecting plenty of info on the Resident Evil franchise, which I got in spades, and to be perfectly honest, that would have been enough to keep me happy with my new addition to the Resi shelf but much like Umbrella’s laboratory’s, it goes much deeper than that.
To really understand the thought process and business decisions behind the franchise and the directions that were taken, you must of course understand the industry itself, particularly the industry as it was throughout the various console generations. Once again plenty of context and industry history was on hand here to support the development stories for each title from well-laid plans to poorly conceived business decisions, for fans of specific consoles there are some interesting and somewhat eye-opening stats around console sales and architecture that made Itchy, Tasty feel all that more comprehensive by touching on industry history, something I’m sure all gamers worth their retro collections will appreciate.
Of course, all the interesting information and intriguing insight would be about as useful as a president’s daughter during a tense gunfight if there was no structure. Fortunately, Itchy, Tasty is as well laid out as an elaborate mansion tucked away in the woods, each entry in the series is given its own chapter which in turn is broken down into segments to highlight key points of interest for its development with some good insight being provided about each entry’s critical and commercial receptions. For fans of the wider CAPCOM universe that carries the RE DNA, some additional insights are given to the origins and influences of favourites such as Devil May Cry, Onimusha, Dino Crisis and Monster Hunter.
It only took me a couple of evenings comprising of roughly five to six hours to read through Itchy, Tasty and granted, I was stopping to ponder to myself the good memories of experiencing certain titles for the first time while watching my significant other play Mass Effect Legendary Edition. For my taste, Itchy, Tasty was the perfect length and didn’t fill its pages with bloated exposition or unnecessary digression, it remained on point and any deviations from the core subject only resulted in benefitting the bigger picture that Alex was putting together for the reader.
Speaking of Alex, the guy is a fantastic writer, over the years I have had many discussions and debates with fellow Resident Evil fans and non-fans about the series and reading his words coupled with his writing style felt like I was just listening to a fellow gamer friend fill me in on some juicy gossip around a common interest. Alex’s passion for the franchise drips from every page and his enthusiasm comes through with more vigour than a rookie cop having a challenging first day on the job.
About the Author
Alex Aniel originally hails from San Francisco but has lived in Tokyo since 2007. He began playing the Resident Evil series aged thirteen, which led him to visit Japan, study the language and eventually move there permanently. He has over a decade of experience in the video game industry and currently works for game music label Brave Wave Productions and physical game publisher Limited Run Games, specialising in the production of game music albums and business development for both companies.
I discovered Itchy, Tasty by happy mistake and made no hesitation in making a purchase. The book comes in hardback form with a swanky front cover that oozes nostalgia and for any Resident Evil fan, this is a must-have. Well written, insightful and entertaining in equal measure and left me hoping there might be a continuation to cover the more recent years of Resident Evil. So just remember, the next time someone asks you, what are ya buyin? Itchy, Tasty should be your only answer!
Writer: Alex Aniel @cvxfreak
Publication Date: April 15, 2021
Format: HB, 304 Pages
ISBN 10: 1783529482