Posted 3:00pm

Behind The Classics: MediEvil

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The second entry in our Behind the Classics series is a real lost gem – SCE Cambridge Studios‘ wild, wacky supernatural adventure MediEvil. First released on PSone back in 1998, it put you in the shoes of Sir Daniel Fortesque – an undead knight who embarks on a quest to liberate the kingdom of Gallowmere after he’s unwittingly reanimated by the evil sorcerer Zarok.

A sequel followed in 2000, with a PSP remake also popping up in 2005, however, it’s the original game that remains most embedded in the memory. With Sir Dan soon to enjoy a comeback of sorts as a playable character in PlayStation All Stars Battle Royale, we sat down with original designer Chris Sorrell to find out more about the game’s development.

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What was the original concept for the game? Did you draw inspiration from anywhere in particular for the game’s look and feel?

Chris Sorrell: The first design proposal for the game had the working title ‘Dead Man Dan’ and described a game that was a fusion of Capcom’s Ghouls ‘n’ Ghosts with the art style of Tim Burton – especially the look and feel of The Nightmare Before Christmas. In both cases these were things that I was a huge fan of back in the mid ’90s. Lead artist Jason Wilson shared my interest in dark, gothic influenced artwork and we worked together to define the look and feel of the game.

It was an ambitious title for its time – what were your biggest challenges in realising that original vision?

Chris Sorrell: MediEvil presented a real mountain of challenges. The game started life as a project of a small, cash-strapped independent developer – Millennium Interactive. In addition to bringing together a brand new team – none of whom had really made a 3D game of this scale before – we were in ‘sell’ mode almost from day one, with the future of the studio riding on our ability to attract a major publishing deal as quickly as possible.

We were initially working on multiple platforms including Windows and Sega Saturn as well as PlayStation before we finally had the chance to demo the game for Sony. Thankfully that was probably our best pitch ever: SCEE had some really inspiring people in management, they loved MediEvil, and within a few weeks we were signed to make an exclusive PlayStation game. In a few more months we became Sony’s second studio in the UK.

Of course another layer of challenge came from the fact that, like most other developers at that time, we were still feeling our way with 3D. Things like camera and character control presented a lot of interesting new challenges and required us to try out a number of approaches before we settled on solutions that seemed to work.

How close to your original concept was the finished game?

Chris Sorrell: Actually really close. Over the course of development the game became less arcadey and a little more of an adventure – which, being a huge Zelda fan, I was very pleased about. As for the game’s look, I think that was extremely true to our initial goals as you can see if you track down some of the concept art that’s out there on the internet.

Which element of the game are you most proud of, and which element, if any, do you feel fell short?

Chris Sorrell: At the time I might have said I was most proud of how our team pulled together to finish the game without compromising on the quirky attention to detail or scope of the game. Looking back now, I guess I feel most proud of the fact that we managed to create a game which – and I believe this is down to the game’s personality and charm – a lot of people still seem to remember. As a developer, it’s a real privilege to be told that your game brings back fond childhood memories for someone and that seems to happen quite often with MediEvil.

Where do I feel we fell short? Well I would have liked to travel a little further down that ‘Zelda’ path – I think a genuine, deep adventure set in the MediEvil world could have been something quite special. The game was also supposed to feature Morten the Earthworm – who lived in Dan’s empty eye socket. Alas, he didn’t make the cut.

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What do you see as the game’s legacy? How would you like it remembered?

Chris Sorrell: Certainly I think we were one of the first games to capture that Tim Burton vibe and I think there may have been a few spooky themed action games that followed MediEvil where the developers probably looked at what we had done. [2002 Capcom fantasy adventure] Maximo springs to mind. I’d be quite happy if people remembered MediEvil as ‘that game with the weird, grunting skeleton dude with one eye and no lower jaw who throws his own arm like a boomerang’.

A PSP version came out in 2005, but the series has been largely dormant since. Do you ever think about where you might have taken the franchise?

Chris Sorrell: I’d certainly love to work with Sir Dan one more time and I have lots of ideas that I think would make for a great new MediEvil game. Sadly I think it’s an unlikely prospect since I no longer work for Sony, not to mention how times have changed in the years since Dan first left his crypt.

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Comments

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Ahh come on make a new one :(

 

It would be good to see this added to the “Retro” sale next week..

 

I would love to have a new MediEvil game :(.

 
young_hastings 7 September, 2012 @ 3:29 pm   4

would love to see a medievil 3. i remember having great fun playing the first 2 back on the ps1

 

Would love to see dan on ps3 or vita i loved the original need to get it propper working on vita and stop the spinning camera

 
Catkiller1 7 September, 2012 @ 3:31 pm   6

It would be great if you could finally release the sequel within the store! ;)

 
ODirtyB_69 7 September, 2012 @ 3:36 pm   7

never played this but it was free on plus ages ago, I got it so I’ll stick it on the vita

Hi Fred!

Any news on the When Vikings Attack competition? It’s been almost a month since the deadline for the submissions.

Nice article btw.

    Fred Dutton 7 September, 2012 @ 3:58 pm    

    Weird – literally just saw a work-in-progress cut of the new trailer for that, featuring the winners. I know this one has taken it’s time, but not long to wait now – it’ll be a fun post when it’s ready.

 
almighty-slayer 7 September, 2012 @ 3:54 pm   9

Great feature here Fred, some interesting things in here.

There’s a suggestion for PSOne game on the Store – MediEvil 2. Would be great to see it on PSN, especially with Playstation Allstars coming up :)

 
InnerSenses 7 September, 2012 @ 4:27 pm   10

Medievil 2 to the PS Store? …please?!

 
InnerSenses 7 September, 2012 @ 4:28 pm   11

…also I loved both these games and played them to absolute death… haha… get it? DEATH? COS HE’S A SKELETON

AaronSOLDIER 7 September, 2012 @ 4:38 pm   12

I too wanna see MediEvil 2 on the Store

 

Classic game. Got it for vita actually now, very good game.
Hated the PSP remake sadly, it got rid of all the spookyness I remembered from the first game and that atmosphere it had.

Cyberendpunk 7 September, 2012 @ 4:43 pm   14

I hope Sony revives the IP one day. I would love a new MediEvil game, as long as it keeps the wacky style and sense of humour. Games are too serious for there own good these days.

And no I will not purchase PlayStation Battle Royale for Sir Dan because the game looks rubbish. I want a proper MediEvil, Ape Escape and Parappa to return.

 

Great game. Any chance of the second one coming to the store? It was even better. Love to play it again.

 

So how many tins of beans will I have to sacrifice to get Medievil 2 on the PlayStation store?
As great as the first one was, I can still remember running around as a hand with Sir Dans head on the top or whipping out a gatling gun in 19th century London, would be great to play them again.

Speaking of PS1 games, also any chance of the Strike or Ace Combat series appearing on the PlayStation Store, such as Nuclear and Soviet strike, spent many hours flying around on those games back in the day.

 
bennyrafal 7 September, 2012 @ 5:56 pm   17

nice idea with those interviews, also nice to hear some stories from devs :) earthworm in eyesocket – priceless

 
MrGarry2u 7 September, 2012 @ 6:20 pm   18

Can’t you get in touch with the guys and gals at Cambridge and get them to make a current Gen adventure for Dan?
He’s such a cool hero because he is very british lol

 
GametimeUK 7 September, 2012 @ 6:46 pm   19

Missed out on this, but always wanted it as a kid. I remember playing the demo and reading the review in my Mags for the longest time. I just can’t seem to justify buying a PS1 game these days that I haven’t played. I don’t know why :-(

Did Dino Crisis ever make it to our store? I really want that game! I really don’t see why Ape Escape isn’t on there either, but I’m sure there must be a good reason for that. I am sure legal issues have pretty much destroyed any chance of Spider-Man showing up on the store too. Tenchu is another one I would like to see. Its a shame I can’t just get the full library, but at least being able to play the physical copies is always an option.

oODaNNii-BhoY_94 7 September, 2012 @ 8:14 pm   20

This and Spyro were my childhood games! never forgotten! im sure if Medieval 3 was announced to be going into development tomorrow, the whole gaming world would instantly looking out for it and nothing else!

oODaNNii-BhoY_94 7 September, 2012 @ 8:16 pm   21

Damn i keep calling it Medieval -__

MediEvil!*

 
Shmenon-Pie 7 September, 2012 @ 11:39 pm   22

I too would love another entry in the series. Perhaps after SCE Cambridge finish Killzone: Mercenary. The franchise should stay in their hands though (assuming that there are still a fair few veterans from the old days still around).

Sony shouldn’t let this go, this game was a masterpiece back in the days, and could have evolved to something really great and be a flagship game for PS like Gran Turismo.
At the very least they should make a remastered HD Collection of Dan.

 
RockLobster2074 8 September, 2012 @ 12:38 am   24

If that game had hd graphics, it would be pretty scary. I remember my brother used to hate it when I played it back in the day. He was terrified of it.

 

Fred, could you PLEASSSSSSSSSSSSE, have a word with Andy about putting Medievil Resurrection in the sale. I absolutely loved the PS1 original, but thought the PSP release was superb. Much better controls, and the graphics were top notch. It would be fantastic to add that to the PS Vita collection.

 
Stonesthrow 8 September, 2012 @ 7:51 am   26

I loved this game so much, truly a sleeper hit imo.

 

1st game I got on my PS – I loved it!! Have already got it downloaded on my PS3, gonna have to give it a go today……

I still have the OPSM demo discs with the trailer and the “making of” video for MediEvil as well as the demo of the game itself. It had an invisible time limit to it and You had to be really quick if You wanted to get to the appearance of the stained glass demon, which was as far as the demo would let You go.

It was definitely an interesting game but I didn’t get to play the whole thing until it was released on the Store. Which leads to MediEvil 2. I played the demo of that one as well and I still have that demo disc. But I didn’t buy it and unless it finally appears on the Store, I won’t get a chance to experience the full game.

Did You hear that? I want to experience MediEvil 2 but You have not given me a chance for that yet, Sony. Fix it.

 
chrisandsheva 8 September, 2012 @ 9:46 am   29

Alas i didn’t get to this one, back in the day, reading the (very good) interview and readers comments i believe it would of been right up my street as well, ah well, i Do have it thnx to plus, but again, i just cannot seem to find time, not just for this, but most every ps1 era game, lol.. i won’t even play any of the (present) ps2 ‘classics’, i Will be honest as to why though, Trophies, yep, those mostly meaningless trinkets Have somehow stolen away what the real fun of gaming once held for me, i can’t justify playing anything that won’t reward (lol) me with them, and i cannot fathom why. Also i must add esp regards most ps1 era games, i am now just too used (spoilt) to ps3 graphics and control/camara capabilities, i know it really isn’t That long ago when ps1 graphics/etc were like wow.. But compared with todays tech, hate to say it but playing ps1s is almost a punishing experience, just hurts me to play, well Try to play them, IF only there was ways to upgrade/scale it all, maybe one day it will be easy to do and then, probably all would be playing ‘classics’ Instead of . say cod 15 (?), fingers crossed.

 
goldtitan66 8 September, 2012 @ 10:00 am   30

I have great memorys of this little gem, its one of the first 3d adventure games i had to complete.. and the main character of the game just sticks in your head, screamin out for a remake

 
goldtitan66 8 September, 2012 @ 10:00 am   31

I have great memorys of this little gem, its one of the first 3d adventure games i had to complete.. and the main character of the game just sticks in your head, screamin out for a remake

MrSmadSmartAlex 8 September, 2012 @ 11:53 am   32

Loved this game. I’ll have to play through it again sometime soon.
I’ll add another request for Medievil 2 on the EU PS Store. I’d definitely buy it!

Fred Dutton, please reply !
I’m a biggest fan of this game when I was a child :)
Is there a project of Medievil Resurrection are converted on PS3 with HD texture like God of War Origins Collection? Sorry my English.

 
sephiroth180 9 September, 2012 @ 11:24 am   34

A great game indeed! Grew up with this one when I was a kid. Was a lot fun!

 
I_CAN_HAZ_MONEY 9 September, 2012 @ 3:03 pm   35

We’ve had this for ages with our PlayStation Plus, but never got round to playing it. We’ve obviously been missing out!

poker_1987 9 September, 2012 @ 9:38 pm   36

these are the best articles on this site

C_L_O_U_D_M_A_N 28 September, 2012 @ 11:02 pm   37

They forgot the part where Sony turned down a Game of Thrones inspired third game that sounded amazing. And I thought Sony was one for supporting the little guys…