PlayStation has been on a bit of a push these past two years to revitalise some of their early titles. It appears Sony feel enough time has passed for nostalgia to set in and it’s brought forth a flood of 90s’ classics.
Another PlayStation mascot it ready to take the stage this Autumn in MediEvil. The hack and slash adventure game has an upcoming remake scheduled for October this year. From Sony’s own publishing brand, Sony Entertainment Interactive.
Titles like the Crash N’Sane trilogy have been a huge success for PlayStation. But the more maligned PlayStation Classic, well, not so much. Unfortunately, MediEvil looks to be heading more the way of the latter, with a dated gameplay model, nobody wants to revisit.
MediEvil was developed by independent British studio Millennium Interactive Ltd. The game was inspired by Tim Burton’s cult hit, The Nightmare Before Christmas which hit theatres in 1993.
Production began on the game two years later and was initially planned to be released on all consoles. Sony was reportedly so impressed with the project that they secured it as a console exclusive in 1997.
The game launched a year later after the studio had been re-branded SCE Cambridge Studio. It was met with a largely positive critical reception and earned itself a cult status amongst fans.
The gothic themes transplanted from Burton’s work were evident in the narrative and artwork. The story centres around Sir Daniel Fortesque who is immediately killed in a battle with evil sorcerer Zarok.
Zarok is eventually defeated regardless but re-emerges years later to exact revenge by raising an army of the dead. Inadvertently raising Daniel, the hero’s corpse now has the chance to redeem himself.
The game was followed by a successful sequel and a reimagined port to Sony’s handheld the PSP. It has also been added to the back catalogue of the PlayStation Store, meaning MediEvil is already playable on PS4 for just £3.99.
Crash N’Sane Trilogy vs MediEvil 2019
Comparing MediEvil to Crash Bandicoot is almost unfair. But PlayStation will surely be hoping to tap the same audience. While both cult classics, Crash was a large part of the reason PlayStation took off in the first place.
The original Crash trilogy of games are all in the top 10 selling games on the PS1. Coming in at a combined 19.12 million copies sold. Exact figures for MediEvil are harder to come by, but it’s believed to be somewhere closer to 500,000.
By February 2019, after being ported to Xbox and Switch, the N’Sane Trilogy had sold around 10 million copies. Which was a big success for Sony but still only around half the original sales figures after 18 months of sales.
MediEvil is shooting for a significantly smaller nostalgia market. If it only taps the same percentage as Crash, it will likely prove a commercial flop. At a list price of £24.99. MediEvil looks unlikely to come anywhere close to the N’Sane Trilogy’s sales.
But being a commercial dud doesn’t necessarily make it a bad game. MediEvil could still stand up today by tapping into a new younger audience and bridging the generational gap. But again it looks unlikely, considering a worrying trend in Sony’s development cycle.
A Test of Time
Sony may have had commercial success with some of their recent remasters but a lot have also been technically criticised. Even the N’Sane Trilogy was shown off for its’ dated mechanics and cheap level design.
A lot of games popular in that era simply don’t hold up by modern standards without a complete overhaul. It’s been noted as the reason for Nintendo abandoning the popular F-Zero franchise. Some ideas just don’t stand the test of time.
Looking at the original MediEvil a case could certainly be made for that. From the footage revealed of the remaster so far, gameplay already looks dated and repetitive. Level areas are small and consist mainly of spawning hordes of enemies. Then rinse and repeat.
MediEvil is going to need more than just a graphical overhaul to stand alongside similar modern releases. With games development more accessible than ever, the indie market is awash with action-adventure games.
Those 90’s hack and slash controls aren’t going to compare to something like Hollow Knight or Katana Zero. Both of which retail for less. With the original MediEvil already available too, gameplay needs to be completely reconstructed to make it worth buying.
Nostalgia can be a big seller, but MediEvil may be one remaster nobody was asking for. Perhaps Sir Daniel Fortesque should have stayed buried this time.