Goofy-looking main character? Check. Smartass sidekick? Check. Evil dude, trying to conquer the world? Check. Waves of lobotomized enemies? Check. Tongue-in-cheek humour? Check. It seems as if Sony’s Studio Cambridge just went over the standard “How to make a good platformer”-checklist and came up with MediEvil Resurrection. Coming straight from Sony’s assembly lines, can this game conquer our hearts?
MediEvil Resurrection is actually a remake of the classic PSOne game MediEvil from 1998. You play as Sir Daniel Fortesque, a brave hero who once slayed the evil wizard Zarok -at least, according to the legends-. The only catch is you gave your life while doing so. But now Zarok is back and he awakens an army of the dead (keep your Lord of the Rings jokes aside, please). This of course means you’re revived too. And so you embark on yet another quest to vanquish evil. Ow, have I told you Daniel is in fact a skeleton? Now you know.
Resurrection is an action game with some platforming elements thrown in the mix. But the most important part of the game is its -often hilarious- atmosphere. Take Dan for example. I don’t think you could find a clumsier and goofier hero, even if you tried. In his head, excuse me, skull resides a small creature that takes up the role of Dan’s guardian angel, sort of. He gives Dan advice, but more often he makes spicy remarks about the bony hero. He does so with an exaggerated Arabian accent that will make you chuckle or even laugh out loud sometimes. Kudos to the voice actor. It’s clear the game doesn’t take itself too seriously. The humour is what keeps you going, because the game does have its share of flaws.
First of all, the camera can really get on your nerves. It stays behind Dan most of the time, but it often pans around him to offer a more cinematic experience -in which the game doesn’t succeed, by the way-. As every action game fan will tell you, this can be very irritating at times. You can reset the camera behind Dan with a simple click on the right shoulder button, but this solution isn’t the best. The camera rapidly turns, but in that second or so, you will be desoriented, which naturally makes you vulnerable. It happened to me multiple times that some boneheaded (pun intended) enemy took a fair chunk out of my life gauge while I was busy messing with camera. Keeping the R-button pressed won’t help you either, as Dan will then start to strafe and sidejump. This is a viable solution for battles, but when simply exploring the world, it’s better to take the panning camera for granted.
Another flaw about MediEvil Resurrection is its clumsy weapon interface. In stead of just tapping a button to change to a weapon or an item, you’ll have to pull up a menu and select it. In the beginning of the game, this isn’t too bad, but after five levels or so, your arsenal will have grown quite a bit, which leads to endless scrolling. You can of course choose to fight all enemies with the same weapon (in that case, I’d recommend the Long Sword), but as you’ll quickly notice, some foes go down way quicker with the proper tool (mummies are vulnerable to a hammer or club for example). The way you gain toys is a pretty neat touch. Disposing of your enemies fills up a chalice and you need it filled by the end of the level. Furthermore you need to find the actual chalice in each level. Do both and you will be granted a visit to the Hall of Heroes, where you will get a new weapon from a deceased hero. The accompanying dialogues are often so hilarious, you’ll gladly scour the worlds, looking for that last monster to kill.
But, flaws aside, the game still gets the basics of the genre right. The combat is satisfying enough and the impressive boss fights deserve a note. The puzzles never get boring or frustrating and the many minigames offer an alternative to the fighting. Those minigames can also be played separately, on your own or via Wi-Fi. There aren’t too many platform sequences, but in this case, that’s not such a bad thing. The camera would spoil them anyway.
Camera aside, this game is actually a looker. The levels are atmospheric and colourful and the many details show some nice examples of level design. The models are great; they have a cartoony feel to them, which fits the general tone of the game. The PSP is clearly a more powerful tool than the PSOne ever was, as it keeps a very solid framerate throughout the game, even with the improved textures. Only the most lustrous environments or action-filled parts cause some small hick-ups, but those won’t get in the way of your gaming experience.
But when it’s all said and done, MediEvil Resurrection is a satisfying action game. The combat is solid -thanks to the vast arsenal- and the funny dialogues and the game’s ever present wittyness put this far ahead of your average action romp. Too bad the camera prevents a higher score. As there are pretty much no comparable titles on the PSP (save for maybe Spider-Man 2), fans will have to resort to this one. Resurrection will most likely be surpassed by several titles in the near future, but, on its own merits, the game deserves a fair chance. I for one would love to see Dan again.