Latest News

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Retro Review: MediEvil (available on PSN)

In 1998, Sony had a stroke of genius with MediEvil (one of the many strokes of genius SCE has had over the years). A genuinely funny mix between 3D action platforming and puzzle, the game had a likable lead character, a cool gothic ‘horror’ world, and tight level design.

Which is why it’s amazing the franchise hasn’t continued in any genuine fashion. Sure there was a sequel released in 2000, and a PSP remake of the original in 2008, but for an A-class game, MediEvil remains one of the most unfairly treated franchises to have graced Sony platforms. We consider it up with the likes of Magic Carpet as an all-but forgotten franchise that is crying out for a HD rebirth.

It's not the prettiest game now, but it's still good, clean fun

What made it so good?

Upon booting the game up, the first noticeable thing is the hero, Sir Dan Fortesque. An ugly, decrepit skeleton with a nice suit of armour, Sir Dan has the dubious honour of being the first to perish in an epic battle with the evil sorcerer, Zarok, we’re told. Some magic revives him, and he sets out for revenge.

The game is peppered with irreverent, self referential humour that belies the graveyard and haunted mansion settings. It’s not dissimilar to the antics of more modern ‘heroes’ like DeathSpank in this regard, and it is the kind of humour that is as relevant now as it was back in 1998.

The game itself is a 3D platformer with a heavy focus on exploration and puzzle-solving. Within each level is a range of secret areas, and some of those secret areas are quite difficult to reach. Beyond just reaching the end of each level, you’re set a secondary goal of obtaining a ‘chalice’ in each level to achieve an alternate ending.

By today’s standards, it’s all fairly simple fare, and MediEvil does look like an old game. The enemies are animated quite poorly (the excuse that ‘they are zombies’ doesn’t really suffice), environments are dull and blocky, and the framerate isn’t always consistent.

But the quality of the game belies the ugly visuals. In start contrast to many other pioneering 3D platformers, MediEvil has a good, working camera system. What is often a blight (even now) for the genre, it’s nice to be able to run and jump around with a minimum of frustration.

Gonna whack some zombies with this trusty sword
There’s also a fun variety of weapons to unlock and use – ranging from the standard swords and clubs though to the more crazy stuff like a chicken drumstick. Some of these weapons are required to uncover hidden areas or complete objectives, which is where the puzzle element comes from.

All up, it’s good, straightforward fun. MediEvil is not necessarily the longest, hardest or greatest platformer out there, but it should be fondly remembered as a game that got so many things right, it’s impossible not to enjoy, and is well worth playing through, even now.

We’d love to see Sony revisit the franchise in HD. Not a lot would necessarily need to be done to the basic formula to successfully bring it into the modern era, and the PlayStation 3 doesn’t have a huge variety of light-hearted, tongue in cheek platformers. Perhaps it’s time for Sir Dan to rise again.


Retro Review: MediEvil (available on PSN)
  • Blogger Comments
  • Facebook Comments
Top