Latest posts by Phil Hayton (see all)
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Retro Requisition would like to draw your attention to a classic video game of old that we shall be formally requisitioning to be reborn, revisited, rebooted, or remastered. We will explain what makes each game such a timeless classic still worthy of attention, pitch what it would be all about and get all realistic by discussing the possibilities of it actually ever happening.
“We, the most awesome and fabulous team at That Not Current, have decreed in all our wisdom and obsession with the wonders of retro gaming, that the following game should be brought back to life and hereby submit this formal request to make it so:”
THE PLAYERS: SCE Cambridge Studio, Chris Sorrell, Jason Wilson, Martin Pond
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation & PSP
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT?
MediEvil is a hack n’ slash adventure game from the minds of SCE Cambridge Studio, published by Sony for the original PlayStation on October, 1st 1998. Many of you may recall this Gothic caper from the Winter ’98 demo disk that was bundled with consoles around that time. MediEvil takes place in the fictional land of Gallowmere, of which is terrorised by an evil sorcerer by the name of Zarok. The games antagonist, who would fit in beautifully with the cast of Ru Paul’s Drag Race, was once an advisor to the king of Gallowmere but was banished on the account of his affiliation with necromancy. Naturally this lead to Zarok creating an army of shadow demons and exacting revenge on Gallowmere, which is detailed in the games opening FMV sequence.
If you’ve not played this game before, you may be wondering who the goofy, but terrifying, protagonist actually is. Sir Daniel Fortesque is a Knight of Gallowmere, charged with leading the royal battalion, of which poor Sir Dan only gets to do for five seconds on the account of receiving an arrow to eye, which is much worse than the knee. Despite Sir Dan being arrow fodder, Zarok’s armies are thwarted and the king decides that it’d be better for morale if Sir Dan was celebrated as a hero who fell in mortal combat after slaying Zarok. So Dan is celebrated as a war hero and Gallowmere lives in peace for 100 years; however, Zarok isn’t finished using the dead as puppets quite yet. In a second attempt to overtake the kingdom, Zarok uses a magical spell book to reanimate all the dead inhabitants of Gallowmere to do his bidding, while also awaking Sir Dan from his fancy tomb as a side effect. To Sir Dan, being resurrected is a second chance to redeem his failure in battle, as his fabricated heroic tales did not gain him a place at The Hall Of Heroes, which is a sad affair for a dead warrior. This brings us to the whole point of the game; Sir Dan sets off on a quest to truly defeat Zarok and gain a true place amongst history’s bravest, while putting all the wandering corpses back into their holes.
Before its debut on the original Playstation, SCE Cambridge Studios were known as Millennium Interactive, who had previous fame with their James Pond series. Chris Sorrell of the studio came up with the idea for MediEvil under the working title of ‘Dead Man Dan’. The original game was slated to be on various platforms such as the Sega Saturn, however, after showing an early demo to Sony, they found themselves hitting the exclusivity jackpot that lead to Sony’s acquisition of Millennium Interactive and the birth of Sony Computer Entertainment Cambridge. Sony influenced the original concept of MediEvil to also incorporate role playing mechanics of the likes of Zelda, which is evident in aspects of the game like attacks and weapon selections. Alongside script doctor Martin Pond, the character of Dead Man Dan was transformed into Sir Daniel Fortesque, our beloved dead knight with an eagerness to redeem himself. Despite having a goofy and decaying appearance, Sir Dan was allegedly a sex symbol amongst female gamers in France, which is just plain weird. MediEvil quickly became a 32-bit 3D classic in a time when the tech was very new, taking an understanding of 3D environments from the likes of Crash Bandicoot and Super Mario 64. The game was also one of the first to use the newly created Playstation analogue controller, of which helped make the game less clunky than a lot of other early titles.
MediEvil has saw one sequel and a reboot on the PSP, but has since lay dormant. MediEvil 2 was very similar to the first game but with further developed humour and a wacky story arc that sees Sir Dan awake in Victorian London, with new characters, weapons and levels. The Playstation Portable title MediEvil:Resurrection was a re-release of first game with some added cut scenes and modified story, which wasn’t really necessary. Considering the two main games in the series got such great reviews, it is a shame that MediEvil has been shelved by Sony for three generations of hardware, and it’s about time Sir Dan stepped out his crypt once again.
WHY DOES IT NEEDS TO BE REBORN?
MediEvil clearly draws influence from classics such as Ghosts and Goblins and Tim Burton’s Night Before Christmas, but also stands solidly as its own unique title. It is a wonderful example of British humour in video gaming and 3D action of which isn’t really present within today’s market. MediEvil is also a prime example of how games can use Gothic horror themes, whilst keeping its distance from traditional horror games. The game’s charm alone earns it a place on modern day consoles, with many gamers having it on their PlayStation 3 beside their modern titles. Considering the game is still a joy to play, despite having 32-bit wonky camera syndrome and ageing controls, it really should be a no brainer that such a solid IP should have been given more attention by Sony. The fact that it was left unscathed by the PS2’s bad habit of reusing old games to make a quick buck means that gamers still have fond memories of this classic, further adding to why Sir Dan deserves to be resurrected.
MediEvil is an important part of video game history, being one of the first truly 3D games that many gamers played, alongside the regularly celebrated Crash series and Super Mario platformers. From a visual perspective, MediEvil is one of the most unique experiences on the Playstation, with its diverse range of environments and themes. This is especially present in the second game, which sees Sir Dan visit the likes of The Natural History Museum, carnivals, Dracula’s castle and Whitechapel. The sound design of MediEvil is also an incredibly unique experience, drawing a lot of influence from the likes of Danny Elfmans work; composers Paul Arnold and Andrew Barnabas created the soundtrack using Synthesizers which perfectly mimicked an orchestra and organ. MediEvil: Resurrection built upon the soundtrack with actual orchestrated instrumentals and choirs, which perfectly encapsulates the wonderful music the series contains.
Putting all that aside, it really would be wonderful just to see a series return that doesn’t take itself too seriously. Sir Dan is one of the only characters that I have ever known who uses his arm as a weapon and is frequently at risk of having his head stolen by magpies. It would be refreshing to have a fun title like MediEvil on the Playstation 4 library, to lighten up the mood set by gritty horror games of late.
WHAT WOULD WE WANT TO SEE IN ANY REBIRTH?
With modern game engines, it is hardly a challenge to make a game worthy of being part of the MediEvil series. It is a series which has had fans pining for more for years, with the PSP ‘remake’ of the original game being the only release since the original two games. In order to give MediEvil a fair chance within a modern market, it might be wise to transform the title into more of an RPG in the same style as From Software’s Bloodborne. As a matter of fact, the environments within Bloodborne would be perfectly at home in a new iteration of the Cambridge Studios classic, with it’s Gothic architecture and setting. If MediEvil had access to the same calibre of voice actors, combined with some well-written comedy, it could be a revolution within the modern action RPG genre. The soundtrack to Bloodborne and the Souls games isn’t a far cry different from MediEvil’s score, so acquiring a similar setup would be a fantastic set up for the games sound. Bringing back MediEvil would also give Sony another string to their bow when it comes to unique exclusives with history behind them, which is something the company seems to take seriously these days. One of the best fan concepts for a new MediEvil game actually had sites like Neogaf and Destructoid believing the series was to be revived back in 2015, as they had mistaken Guillermo Moreno’s fan recreation within Unreal Engine 4 as the real deal. This fan creation is a perfect example of what we could expect from a MediEvil remake and with the right mechanics behind it, could be a serious attempt at a new instalment in the series.
IS IT LIKELY?
SCE Cambridge later transformed into Guerrilla Cambridge, which sadly closed its doors on the 17th of January 2017 after only making Killzone: Mercenaries and RIGS: Mechanised Combat League. This might make any prospect of MediEvil making a comeback seem a bit grim. However, the series may not require its original studio in order to revive itself. For those of you who actually played the Super Smash Bros clone Playstation All-Stars, you will have noticed that Sir Dan himself is present among the roster of characters, showing that Sony hasn’t forgotten about their one-eyed comrade. In an age of gaming where many of our 32-bit beloved’s are seeing fancy remakes, such as Crash Bandicoot and the Oddworld series, it seems that the attitude within the gaming industry favours fan service. Even some much love obscurities like Grim Fandango have been given revitalised love in recent years, which could be viewed as even less likely than a MediEvil comeback. It would be wonderful if Chris Sorrell and Jason Wilson could work with Sony yet again and give the fans what they deserve; however, the PSP remake reportedly left the original creators a bit bitter, as they allegedly disagreed with many changes within the game. At the end of the day, a remake or return of MediEvil isn’t impossible and with much luck, Sony may give some love to this beloved classic once again in the future, providing the fans shout loud enough for it.
So if you’re reading this Sony, please just do us all a favour and make the game that we deserve. Surely if you can allow Putty Squad to be remade for the PS4, you could actually put effort into bringing back a champion of the 32-bit era.