Soapbox features enable our individual writers and contributors to voice their opinions on hot topics and random stuff they’ve been chewing over. Today, Ollie looks back on the pantheon of resident evils in all the Resident Evils and pens a tribute to perhaps his favourite character in video gamedom…
I have a bit of a confession to make. Back in 2005 when I played Resident Evil 4 for the first time on my trusty GameCube, I completely fell in love with it, but Ramón Salazar and I didn’t get off to the best of starts. After playing through the opening village section of the game, which featured deadly Ganados, the esteemed Dr. Salvador, El Gigante, and the fearsome village chief, Bitores Méndez, my first encounter with Salazar left somewhat of a bitter taste in my mouth.
There was definitely a sense from the start that Resident Evil 4 was a wholly different beast to what came before it, and I don’t mean because of its sharper focus on action over horror. Despite the series’ obvious B-movie roots, RE4 demonstrated a striking willingness not to take itself so seriously. Now, I’m not saying that every RE game prior to the fourth entry saw itself as a self-serious ‘Citizen Kane’ of the survival horror genre, but with Leon’s sarcastic quips (“where’s everybody going, bingo?”), his remarkable repertoire of wrestling moves, and his blossoming friendship with a stray dog, it was clear that Resident Evil 4 was something quite different from the doom and gloom of Raccoon City.
This is why, when I reached the castle section and met its resident castellan, Ramón Salazar, I was quite taken aback by both his appearance and his demeanour. I distinctly remember sitting in my chair, staring at my 19-inch CRT screen with a look not dissimilar to ‘side-eyeing Chloe’. Seriously, who was this guy?
Here’s the thing though. I’ve played through Resident Evil 4 more times than I can even remember (I lost count after the fifteenth playthrough) and I absolutely love Salazar now. Love him. He’s one of my favourite characters of all time, not just in Resident Evil 4, not just in the franchise as a whole, but in all of gaming. He was both endearing and unnerving in equal measure; a villain that seemed almost laughably benign compared to the likes of Nemesis and Wesker, but one that also managed to instil dread in my heart with his bizarre, childlike whimsy and fearsome, cloaked bodyguards.
What’s more is that with each subsequent playthrough, I actually found myself mourning the fact that Salazar wasn’t the game’s primary antagonist. Don’t get me wrong, I like Osmund Saddler as much as the next Ganado, but he was very much the quintessential “fancy pants villain with a dastardly plan”. Next to Salazar’s delightful charm and magnetic presence, he frankly bored me.
Salazar’s eventual (REALLY OBVIOUS SPOILER ALERT!) death at the hands of Leon Kennedy brings with it a deep sense of loss whenever I play through the game now. Yes, he was evil. Yes, he wanted to help Saddler subjugate the entire world with the Las Plagas parasite, but darn it, he was adorable! Perhaps there was some part of me, deep down, that thought I could maybe change him. Can you imagine Salazar joining Leon, Chris, Jill, and co. in fighting against bio-organic terror? I reckon he’d do a solid job.
The Resident Evil 4 remake is just on the horizon — though sadly not for Switch owners, although a ‘Cloud Version’ seems likely at some point given the fact all the others got the same treatment — and I simply can’t wait to dive back into that world again. Salazar’s brief (very brief) appearance in one of the pre-release trailers has me… not worried, as such, but slightly concerned. His appearance has definitely been altered quite drastically, and to me, he no longer looks like a creepy child with old man features. He just looks like an old man.
It’s odd, but I trust Capcom to do the character justice. Well… aside from letting him live, of course.
What do you think of Ramón Salazar from Resident Evil 4? Would you rank him among your favourite characters from the series? Share your thoughts with a comment below.