Isn’t the PSP great? All that power in a handheld format! Quality 3D graphics, CD-quality audio, analogue controls! And what about the games? Don’t you just love the way it’s bought those great old PlayStation brands back to life? We haven’t had a decent Ridge Racer since Type 4 back in 1999 and the same goes for WipEout. Now, after all those years of PlayStation 2 damp squibs - wham! New versions that bring the best of the old screaming into the handheld era, with visuals that come pretty damn near to justifying all that PS2-in-your-pocket hype. And now we have Medievil. Another classic series given another brilliant overhaul for its new life on the PSP.
If only this last bit were true.
Let’s face it – Medievil never quite had the cachet of the great PlayStation franchises. In the general scheme of things, Sir Dan Fortesque’s adventures sit somewhere below Spyro the Dragon’s, let alone Crash Bandicoot or Solid Snake’s. All the same, let’s not hold this against our jawless, skeletal protagonist. While he was never one for adventurous gameplay, he always delivered solid adventures with a distinctively English sense of humour. There is worse raw material that Sony’s Cambridge studios could have worked with.
And it must be said that this resurrection isn’t a total disaster. Graphically, it’s a fairly big step up from the old PlayStation incarnation. The PSP isn’t anywhere near to matching the PS2 on polygon counts, but its texturing and lighting capabilities place it way ahead of the old PSX, and Sony Cambridge has used that added power to create some good looking environments and people them with suitably spooky monsters. If earlier Medievils saw them stretching for that Tim Burton, Nightmare Before Christmas style, then this one has it right within their grasp. The matching Danny Elfman-esque soundtrack also helps build atmosphere, as do the well-animated cut scenes. In fact, there are times when the slick presentation almost adds up to a classy game. See the score above? At least two of those points are for the art direction.