While Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is commonly considered the weakest of the original PlayStation trilogy, it’s still a great entry in the franchise. The third game was originally intended as a side story rather than a true sequel, with one early concept featuring Umbrella mercenary HUNK – first introduced in Resident Evil 2’s The 4th Survivor minigame – hunting down a G-Virus sample on a cruise ship infested with creatures.
Eventually, it was decided to focus on Jill Valentine’s escape from a crumbling Raccoon City. Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is very much an old-school title, featuring the fixed camera angles, tank controls, and prerendered backgrounds fans had come to expect while introducing gameplay elements like a dodge move and ammo crafting. It also added the iconic Nemesis, a nigh-unkillable creature that stalks players throughout the campaign and generally makes life very difficult. Resident Evil 3 was directed by Kazuhiro Aoyama, who recently sat down for a full playthrough of the game with speedrunner CarcinogenSDA to share his memories on its development. Alex Aniel (aka cvxfreak) acts as a translator for the lengthy chat which is great fun for fans of the game, as Aoyama drops loads of nuggets about it.
It’s worth watching the whole playthrough, but gathered below are just some of the highlights from Mr. Aoyama’s commentary.
The CG Cutscenes Were Added At The Last Minute
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis features any number of impressive CG cutscenes, with the opening depicting the last stand between police and the growing army of the undead. Aoyama recounts how the game was very much considered a Gaiden (aka spin-off) title during development, so originally no CG movies were planned. The game was even dubbed Resident Evil 1.9, but towards the end of development, Capcom had a change of heart, deciding it should be called Resident Evil 3 for the sake of consistency. This upgrade led to an increase in scope, including the addition of the cutscenes.
He also added the Nemesis shooting down the rescue helicopter was his personal favorite cutscene.
The First Playable Section Was Added Following QA Testing
The first playable section of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis features Jill being thrown right into the action and having to escape from a group of zombies. Aoyama reveals this brief opening was added following testing to help the game flow a little better. Coming from a big CG cutscene and then into another in-game cutscene felt off, so it decided to add a little playable section as a bridge.
The Police Station Is Boarded Up Because There Are Still Survivors Inside
The Raccoon City police station is the main setting of Resident Evil 2, and it briefly returns in Nemesis. The first part of Nemesis is still roughly a day before Resident Evil 2, but certain sections of the station are boarded off to prevent access. These barriers aren’t present in the second game – a detail that has irked some fans over the years – but Aoyama explains the reason they exist is that there are survivors hiding out behind the barricades.
Sometime after Jill leaves they emerge and remove the barricades, but they soon perish regardless. This also explains why the station is overrun with zombies in the second game.
The Game Was Supposed To Be Experimental
Resident Evil 3: Nemesis adds useful new mechanics like a 180-degree turn and destructible objects. It also features the live choice selection, where players have to decide between two choices at key moments, like choosing to fight a boss or escape; depending on their decision, the game can become easier or harder. Nemesis was intended to be more action-packed than the first two titles, but Aoyama revealed the game’s Gaiden status allowed the development team to be more experimental, hence the addition of the new features.
No, That Isn’t Jill’s Boyfriend
In the S.T.A.R.S office players can see there’s a photo of an unidentified man on Jill’s desk. Fans have naturally speculated this is likely her boyfriend, but Aoyama shot that theory down, stating its likely just a friend. So, now you know.
They Struggled With The Logical Of Certain Puzzles
One puzzle in the game features Jill putting a battery into the statue of Raccoon City’s mayor, and the director explains the mayor made his fortune in an electric company, hence the battery. He later confessed the idea of traps and puzzles in the middle of an American city is inherently silly, but since they were series staples the team had to find a somewhat natural way to include them.
That Might Not Be Dario’s Daughter
The opening of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis features Jill hiding out in a warehouse with another survivor named Dario, who does the manly thing by running into a container and trying to hide out the zombie apocalypse. To be fair, the man is still grieving over his daughter, who he ‘lost’ outside. Later on in the game, a young girl is seen fleeing from a pack of zombies, and she’s later found dead on the streets. It’s easy to draw the conclusion that this is Dario’s daughter, and while Aoyama doesn’t dismiss the idea, he says it’s up to players to decide for themselves.
Nemesis’ Tracking Ability
The Nemesis stalks Jill relentlessly, but how he always seems to know where she is isn’t revealed. Aoyama explained that Nemesis’ blood would boil whenever he sensed her nearby, which is how he finds her. It also explains why he’s in such a cranky mood all time.
Aoyama also revealed his thoughts on 2004’s Resident Evil: Apocalypse, which featured the live-action debut of Nemesis. His thoughts? A diplomatic ‘not good, not bad.’
The Ability To Move And Shoot Was Nearly Included
Most of the Resident Evil games force players to stand still to shoot; a tactic designed to add tension. Even action-heavy titles like Resident Evil 4 employed this mechanic, but Aoyama revealed an early idea was to allow players to move and shoot at the same time. It was eventually abandoned because it would clash with the dodge move, though it did make an appearance in Dino Crisis 2.
Aoyama also revealed producer Shinji Mikami’s focus was on Dino Crisis meant he wasn’t heavily involved during development.
Aoyama Wanted Three Playable Characters
Whereas the first two Resident Evil games feature two playable characters and multiple scenarios, Nemesis is more focused and contained. Only one scenario exists, though mercenary Carlos is briefly playable midway through. Aoyama reveals he originally wanted three playable characters since it was the third game, but a lack of time quickly led to this notion being scrapped.
Parts Of The Game Were Expanded When The Scope Increased
When the game began development, Capcom considered the then-upcoming Dreamcast title Resident Evil – Code: Veronica to be the true third game. Once they decided to make Nemesis the official third entry, the end of the game was expanded. The graveyard section was added, the Umbrella factory was made much bigger and a new live section choice was included to help pad out the experience.
Aoyama also revealed his own name can be found upside down on one of the tombstones.
The Grave Digger Was A Recycled Concept
Players encounter the Grave Digger creature twice throughout the campaign, which is a sort of giant, mutated worm with razor-sharp teeth. The commentary reveals this creature came from a rejected concept for Resident Evil 2. The very first pitch for a sequel had players revisit the ruins of the Spencer Mansion, with the T-Virus causing all sorts of mutations like plant monsters.
The Grave Digger was a boss creature players would have encountered in that version, but once the idea was abandoned, so was this boss. It was such a cool design, though, that it found its way into Resident Evil 3: Nemesis instead.
Bonus Fact: HUNK’s Original Name
Alex Aniel is currently writing a retrospective book on the Resident Evil series, and during a question about fan-favorite character HUNK, he revealed how the mysterious soldier earned his name. He was originally called Hank, but due to Hunk and Hank being pronounced and spelled the same way in Japanese, a translation error led to him being labeled HUNK instead. That’s also why his name is all caps – Japanese people have a habit of spelling proper nouns in all-caps for ease of reading.