Mikami Shinji (三上真司) is a Japanese video game developer and friend of Suda51's, best known for creating the Biohazard series (known as Resident Evil in North America), and has also contributed in the creation of some of Capcom's most popular post-32-bit franchises, including Viewtiful Joe and Devil May Cry as an executive producer. Notably, he produced killer7.
Mikami first joined Capcom in 1990 as a planner for the company after graduating at the Doshisha University. After contributing in a lesser capacity to several titles, he began development of a horror-themed adventure game for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn set in a haunted mansion, an idea loosely based on Sweet Home (an earlier Famicom game by Capcom based on the Japanese horror film of the same name). The resulting game became Biohazard, an action-adventure game which combined 3D polygonal characters and objects with pre-rendered backgrounds and featured zombies (among other monsters) heavily influenced by George A. Romero's Dead films. The game was retitled Resident Evil during its English localization under Capcom USA's suggestion and was released in Japan and North America on March 22, 1996 and became one of the PlayStation's first successful titles. It was the first game to be dubbed "survival horror", a term Capcom coined to promote the game.
After the success of Resident Evil, Mikami was promoted from planner to producer, becoming more involved in the business side of the company. As producer, he oversaw the development of the Resident Evil sequels (Resident Evil 2 and Resident Evil 3: Nemesis) and also directed another survival horror title, Dino Crisis in 1999. Shortly after the release of Resident Evil 3 in Japan, Capcom Production Studio 4 was established in 1999. The studio's staff were mainly the key developers in the company's survival horror projects. Mikami was appointed as the general manager of the studio, and worked as executive producer for various games, including the original Devil May Cry (initially conceived as a Resident Evil game). In 2001, in what was to be one of his most controversial business decisions, Mikami formed an exclusivity agreement with Nintendo in which the main Resident Evil games would be sold only for the Nintendo GameCube. The GameCube would receive, in addition to ports of previous PlayStation and Sega Dreamcast installments, three new games in the series; a remake of the original Resident Evil, Resident Evil Zero and Resident Evil 4 (the deal did not include spinoff titles, such as the Gun Survivor and Outbreak games). Resident Evil and Resident Evil 0 were both released in 2002.
In spite of Resident Evil 0's underwhelming sales, Mikami remained confident in his support for Nintendo and announced four exclusive titles for the GameCube under development by Production Studio 4 in addition to Resident Evil 4: P.N.03, Viewtiful Joe, killer7 and Dead Phoenix. This lineup became known as the Capcom 5. The first of these games to be released was the Mikami-directed P.N. 03. The game was both a commercial and critical failure, receiving lukewarm reviews from the press and selling below expectations. As a result, Mikami stepped down as manager of Production Studio 4, while remaining as one of the head producers within the team. After his failure with P.N.03, Mikami decided to concentrate instead on the creative aspects of the Capcom 5. He eventually took over directorial duties for Resident Evil 4 from previous director, Shibata Hiroshi. Under his direction, Resident Evil 4 went through some substantial changes. Mikami touted the game as a GameCube exclusive. In an interview with a Japanese magazine, Mikami even claimed that he would "cut [his own] head off" if Resident Evil 4 came to the PlayStation 2. He eventually gave apologies for Resident Evil 4 going multiplatform. He felt quite bad, believing some people bought a GameCube just to play the Resident Evil 4 without knowing that it would finally be made available for PlayStation 2.
After the success of Resident Evil 4, Mikami left Studio 4 and was transferred over to Clover Studio in 2004. Originally established in July 2004, Clover Studio employed an all-star lineup of Capcom development talent, including Inaba Atsushi (producer of Steel Battalion and Viewtiful Joe), and Kamiya Hideki (Devil May Cry director).
Mikami revealed that he formed a private development studio called Straight Story in 2006, shortly before the fall of Clover Studio. The name of the studio is taken from the 1999 David Lynch film. Their works will be under the Platinum Games branding and he is a contract employee ("external board member") of Platinum Games. He would later collaborated with Suda on Shadows of the DAMNED, although both Suda and Mikami found that the publishers were not very tolerant of Suda's vision, leading to the game changing drastically from its initial concept.
Mikami later created a new studio in 2010 known as Tango Gameworks, which he formed along with then-employees of Capcom, Platinum and Grasshopper (including Masafumi Takada). At Tango, Mikami created his final game in the director's chair, The Evil Within, and later worked as producer on a sequel. Tango is owned by ZeniMax Media.