In late 1998, the PlayStation was given one of its greatest adventure games in the surprise title of MediEvil. At the time, MediEvil was considered completely offbeat, creative and wholly original. Now, almost seven years later, we are given a reinvention of the PlayStation classic with a few new twists here and there. Oddly, everything that could be said about MediEvil years ago can again be said now. Sir Dan's adventure is a timeless one that all PSP owners should invest in.
Sir Daniel Fortesque is the unlikely hero of the Battle of Gallowmere in which he saved the land from the evil sorcerer, Zarok. Unlikely, yes, since Sir Dan is actually a cowardly type who perished in the first wave of combat when an arrow hit him in the eye. Now, one hundred years later, Zarok has returned and Sir Dan has also been resurrected to work his magic one more time. WIll he make amends for his past deeds and prove himself a true hero this time around?
As you can see, the story of Sir Dan really hasn't changed much except for the tiny addition of Al-Zalam, a genie living inside Dan's head and providing us with the bulk of MediEvil's humor. Not to say that MediEvil didn't have its own quirky, offbeat playfulness to it originally, but now it like having Robin William's in Dan's head providing commentary for the entire adventure. The best addition by far.
For a platformer/adventure/fighting game, MediEvil doesn't fall into the same trap as most PSP games. MediEvil's controls are intuitive but still provide enough free buttons to allow you to tweak the camera in a way that makes it logical and easy to see the action. This may be the most obvious thing to ask for, but few games provide a camera on the PSP as useful as MediEvil. The other clever addition is how each button usually has two uses which are triggered by either simply pressing or holding them down. It also helps that the action is fast and the buttons presses are instantly translated to action on the screen.
The gameplay hasn't changed much; you still control Dan as he wanders from level to level through Gallowmere collecting chalices, coins and various new weapons. Though there is a lot less emphasis on platforming and more on straight-up action, there are still enough puzzles scattered around (and clever boss battles) to keep platform fans interested. The combat however, is varied enough to keep anyone on Dan's journey. The combat feels right and the difference between attack types, melee and ranged weapons and various combos keep the action fun and fresh throughout.
This time around, if the entire MediEvil adventure wasn't enough, a ton of quick playing mini-games have also been added to the mix. These are, for the most part, incredibly enjoyable and engrossing. While none are overly complex, it's nice to have the option of just playing for a few minutes and accomplishing something when time is limited. These focus on various goals, from shooting targets using the bow and arrow, herding chickens and sheep, carnival-type whack-a-Zarok to survival-type missions. Each mini-game has various challenge levels and difficulty levels and you will garner prizes for doing well. As a simple diversion, it's obvious that a lot of time and effort went into these games and they are fun to try over and over.
If this weren't enough, MediEvil Resurrection also features a multiplayer aspect and the ability to use Game Sharing to share the MediEvil (and Wipeout Pure) game content with other PSP users. The two-player multiplayer games work using the Ad Hoc Wi-Fi setting. The multiplayer aspect is basically a re-working of the mini-games as two players compete for bragging rights.
Graphically, MediEvil is one of the sharpest looking PSP titles so far. While most of the levels feature gloomy surroundings, there are always little additions that truly show off the power of the handheld. I was waiting in anticipation to see the first boss of the game, since I knew he would be the Stainglass Demon in the Hilltop Mausoleum. This was easily the most spectacular sight of the PlayStation version and the PSP rendering did not disappoint one bit. The levels will also seem familiar to previous MediEvil fans although they seem to have been re-worked for this edition. The crypt is a wealth of information as well and looks amazing. The new cutscenes are practically worth the price of admission alone since you will not only be wowed by them, but laughing at the levity included in all of them.
In the audio department, MediEvil shines even brighter. For a handheld title, it's almost impossible to demand more than what MediEvil delivers. Perfect voice acting, special effects and musical score, but also, lines that are hilarious and delivered perfectly. If you purchase MediEvil simply to hear Al-Zalam's dialog, you'd probably still be in heaven with your purchase. A tour de force.
In the end, it's easy to recommend MediEvil to fans of the PlayStation version, but also to anyone who is looking for a high quality platformer/actioner on the PSP. MediEvil may have had seven years to get to this point, but with a solid camera, excellent controls, great visuals, a sublime audio presentation and a story that is clever and funny enough to get you laughing out loud, MediEvil simply proves that it is possible to port these types of games onto the PSP with enough new content, control tweaks and bonus material to make worthy again. Let's hope a whole new generation discovers Sir Dan's adventures.