Sometimes I feel like I’m doomed to retred the corridors of youth and a litany of remakes in every conceivable format isn’t helping. Like Gary King in The World’s End, every so often I crave debauchery – in my case sitting on my tod playing computer games. I was so cool. Still am.
This latest in a long line of rehashing the past sees one (literally) bone-headed knight ‘Sir Daniel Fortesque’ resurrected once more in a remake of the 1998 PSX smash Medievil which criminally only spawned one equally awesome sequel in the form of Medievil 2, two years later. I stand by that one of the best things mum ever did was to encourage me to buy Medievil over Tomb Raider 3 with my birthday cash, which though good couldn’t touch Medievil’s imagination and humour.
Medievil sees Sir Dan as the “hero of Gallowmere” having defeated Zarok the sorceror and his evil army of the dead. Dan’s praised in history books, while he did in fact die from an arrow-to-the-eye at the battle’s first charge. One hundred years later and Zarok has returned to raise the dead and possess the good people of Gallowmere (who you meet in the “Sleeping Village”, a level later in the game).
Back in those days (twenty or so years ago – eek!) I only had my pocket money and relied on birthdays and christmases or saving up in order to buy games. Demo discs with the Official Playstation Magazine got played to death while I prayed to possess the full length games one day. For a long time, I could only dream of what came beyond Medievil’s graveyard-based first few levels.
The levels, it turns out, are varied and iconic, making it hard to pick a favourite from the twenty or so stages across the world of Gallowmere. To begin with you’re treated to Dan’s Crypt and the graveyard levels and then you scale “Cemetary Hill” to “The Hilltop Mausoleum” and the first of the game’s notable boss battles. The enemies like the locations, are varied, interesting and a ton of fun. Evil scarecrows line the corn fields and pumpkin monsters shamble through the gorge. Rooks and demons prey on “The Enchanted Earth” and there’s even a galleon complete with skeleton crew, which sails across the clouds en route to “Zarok’s Lair”.
There are puzzle elements, stand-outs being the game’s wacky floating brain monster, cog and giant eyeball infested penultimate level “The Time Machine” and Jack of the Green’s fiendish riddles in the “The Asylum Grounds”. This in turn takes you to the bonkers innards of the asylum, and like “The Gallow’s Gauntlet”, provides for one of the game’s fightier levels.
There’s a wonderfully kooky and creepy score to accompany the game’s vibe and inspirations – a heedy combination of Monthy Python, Tim Burton (particularly A Nightmare Before Christmas) and old video game Super Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts.
Medievil’s voice acting is also superb and very funny, with regional and posh english accents galore: particular favourites being cockney fairies in “The Ant Caves” (a claustrophobic level where you’re shrunk to their size) and a Sean Connery-esque dragon in “The Crystal Caves”, a small but beautiful level filled with subteranian traps and a rainbow of colour. Should you be clever enough to grab a chalice during a level, you’ll be treated with a trip to “The Hall of Heroes”; in which you’ll get to talk to a statue who’ll first mock your past failings, and secondly gift you with something (weaponry, health, etc) to help you in your quest. Much of the voice acting talent happens in this hall, giving you good reason to discover secrets on levels and revisit to complete them at a later stage.
Another awesome thing is that original co-creators Jason Wilson and Chris Sorrell have made what looks to be a rather splendid graphic novel “Medievil”, AKA “MediEvil: Fate’s Arrow”, which as detailed in the above retrospective video, covers the period before and after the original title with Sir Dan and the Princess using the time machine at the end of Medievil 2 to go back and fix things. This was to become the third entry in the franchise, but sadly never came to be. Hopefully the remake will do well, which will hopefully mean they’re up for a MediEvil 2 remake (a fantastic Victorian London-based romp and both harder and longer than the original). It would also be fantastic if there was a sequel and the comic book was not a final farewell.
I’m praying the game is bloody brilliant, of course, and that they don’t change it from the original too much. It’d be great if they added in some extra content, and perhaps the fabled Jabberwocky chase from the original (see a list of cut levels from the original). If “The Lake” doesn’t have the dreamy underwater tunnel section complete with swimming elephants, I riot!
Medievil will be released on PS4 on October 25th 2019. Just in time for Halloween!