Reviewed: September 30, 2005
Released: September 13, 2005
MediEvil Resurrection is my second brush with death this month on the PSP. After a lackluster romp as Death Jr. I now get to play as bumbling undead, Sir Dan, freshly animated from his tomb and set loose to save the world once again…or rather for the first time since his original exploits are more legendary than fact.
MediEvil has been around for several years now, first appearing on the PS1 back in 1998 in what is still considered to be one of the finest (and most challenging) action games of its time. Resurrection picks up on our hero and the settings and events started in that game and continues them in another traditional platform title, handheld style.
MediEvil Resurrection is basically a fresh visit through familiar territory. Depending on how long ago you played the original will determine just how much you remember. For me it was brief blurbs of déjà vu, but for the most part the game was entirely new to me. The designers have also taken the opportunity to add some new levels and flesh out some existing areas.
Actually, I was immediately impressed with just how much this game plays like the big console version from 98. What concessions that had to be made to fit this on the PSP are more than made up for with a new target assist function and some fairly intuitive controls.
Dan moves around rather awkwardly with the analog pad, but you can use the D-pad for a little more precision. You can use the right shoulder button to lock onto a target and then circle-strafe that target or switch to a new one. Circle jumps and the X and square buttons attack, while the triangle button initiates a lengthy charging attack that clears out enemies in a linear path of destruction.
All of these controls are learned early in a nice tutorial session before you even leave your crypt. When they are put into practice in the real world combat is still a bit awkward and imprecise, much like Dan. Even using ranged weapons with a locked attack doesn’t guarantee a successful battle. Combat is fairly robust with more than 200 special moves and combos for both handheld and ranged attacks, as you face off against 32 unique monster types.
Camera control can be as awkward as controlling Dan himself. You can’t really move the camera other than just centering it on Dan with a quick tap of the right shoulder button. Most of the time this works well enough, especially in the larger outdoor levels, but when things get cramped a poorly positioned camera can easily result in excessive damage and even death.
Resurrection comes with several mini-games that are incredibly fun and incredibly challenging. You have access to two of these games, Arrow of Fate, and Vermin Control, at the time you open the game and the rest have to be unlocked after you have visited the carnival at Gallowmere Plains.
Mini-games consist of nine challenges spread across three increasingly difficult skill levels. Once you complete all the challenges within a certain mini-game you earn a Carnival Token and if you do particularly well you will get a cash bonus. If you are skilled enough to win all the mini-games there is rumor of a special sword that can be yours.
The mini-games are in all truth a lot more fun than the core adventure and I found myself playing these more and more, especially when I got frustrated with the main game. The very nature of handheld gaming is all about short spurts of gameplay and these mini-games are quick and easy to play on 15-minute breaks or 30-minute lunches.
There is a two-player mode that allows each player to race through the story levels, but you never even see the other player. You have to consult the progress meter along the side of the screen to see who is in the lead, so it’s fairly uninvolved and even a bit boring. There are 16 individual Wi-Fi challenges in all.
This game also supports “game sharing” allowing you to share content from this game and WipeOut Pure, even if you don’t own that game. Just get in Wi-Fi range of another PSP and select Demo from the main menu and you are off and running.
The graphics in this game are by far the most impressive of any game to ship for the PSP since WipeOut Pure. From the opening narration that is set next to a continually morphing stained-glass window to the wonderful CG cutscenes right into the colorful Tim Burton-esque game levels, this game just oozes with charm and style.
Characters are highly detailed and animated with intentional awkwardness so Dan looks as clumsy as you’d expect. Other monsters like zombies lurch around with undead precision. The game is alive with special effects, multi-colored lighting, and all sorts of subtle details that give this game a storybook ambience.
Resurrection comes with a sound package that is right on par with the visuals. The soundtrack is worthy of a feature film and captures the haunting themes and mystical ambience of the levels and the creepy, yet humorous situations.
Sound effects are rich and diverse with plenty of environmental effects as well as the moans and groans of enemies, the clank of swords, the crunch of shields, the crackle of fire, the trickle of water, and much more.
The dialogue is the real shining star of the show here, even as early as the opening narration “quality wine at affordable prices”, then moving into the introductory movie and tutorial. The game just drips with so much British flavor you’ll think you are watching a Monty Python production. I caught myself laughing aloud, even while playing in public, which brought on the obligatory glances of puzzlement from those nearby.
The core game consists of nearly 20 levels and will take a good 12-15 hours to complete. There are nine mini-games consisting of more than 70 challenges that will keep you busy a lot longer than the main adventure. I only carry three PSP games with me when I travel and this has become one of them, strictly for the mini-games.
The multiplayer is a throwaway experience but you have to commend SCEE for at least offering it. The game sharing is also a nice feature but won’t last nearly as long as the rest of the content.
MediEvil Resurrection offers a quality presentation of a sometimes-awkward game, but for the most part you can overcome the quirky camera and really get into the melee and ranged combat. And the collection of mini-games rivals a handheld version of Mario Party.
If you are a fan of the original PS1 game then you owe it to yourself to check this out, and if you claim to have any sense of humor then Resurrection is a game you will want to play at least once. But once you get a taste of those mini-games you will be hooked forever, and that’s a promise you can take to the crypt.