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PSP Launch: MediEvil rises from the grave

Cult PSOne platform favourite makes a glorious return to PSP

Ah, MediEvil, how we've missed you so. Rather than hop your little skull head onto PS2 you let your dev team saunter off and work on Primal and GhostHunter, and look how they worked out. Glad to have you back.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with MediEvil, it's a bit of a cult platform classic from the old PSOne days where you controlled Sir Daniel Fortesque. Combining good old platform action with a particularly British sense of humour (if you're not British you wouldn't get it, it's far too clever and sophisticated) it made a legion of fans.

And now it's back. The evil Sorceror Zarok has raised an army of the undead and in doing so has also woken Sir Dan from his deadly slumber. So it's on like ping pong.

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The levels are short enough to be completed in PSP-sized play chunks, but big enough to surprise you with loads of different environments and secrets as you travel across the land of Gallowmere. Think Super Mario 64 DS - there's even a wi-fi two player race mode through the levels to indulge in with a mate.

Unlockable minigames, a new character called Al Zalam offering assistance and smart-arsed commentaries on your inadequacies and an in-game manual situated in Dan's crypt round out the package.

Screens attached - release date unconfirmed, but once again we have a cheeky Q&A for your pleasure and delectation with MediEvil's producer Piers Jackson.

We've seen MediEvil on PS one, can you tell us what is different on the PSP version?

Pretty much everything is different! Whilst we've taken the basic story and some of the locations from the original game, all the code, graphics and voices are different and we've expanded the plot, added mini-games, multiplayer facilities and even a PSP-friendly save anywhere function.

So it's not just a port?

Absolutely not, everything has been created from scratch. The ideas that we thought worked well in the original have been preserved although in many cases their use has been altered or repositioned to keep it all fresh, even to those who played the original.

What elements have you introduced to the game to make it different enough to be considered a brand new game?

New combat manoeuvres, new levels, characters, and bosses. There have been significant additions to the plot line in the form of the Anubis Stone, which strengthens the story arc and the creation of Al Zalam to act as Dan's internal monologue and the player's guide.

Why didn't the MediEvil series appear on PS2?

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Largely because we were busy on other projects. After MediEvil 2 on PS one some of the guys had been working on the MediEvil games for five years and they wanted to work on something new; by the time they'd done a game on PS2 it was time to do something for PSP and MediEvil seemed perfect.

Are there any of the original team members working on the PSP game?

Directly on the team the only person is Mitch Phillips, although he is the Lead Artist, so it's a pretty big link! Many of the original team still work in the studio though, and they're always available for hints, tips and general advice. Oh, and we're still using the original voice of Dan!

Are there many major differences in the development for a software title for PSP?

The biggest difference is that it's a new platform! We started, not only with no code or engine, but for a long time without any Development Kits - that makes for an interesting ride. Actually, logistical difficulties aside the biggest differences are in the gameplay challenges of a portable console. We were used to developing for PS2, or PS one back in the day, but now we had to consider what a player would want from a PSP, such as save anywhere features and shorter, more intense levels. It really does change the whole way you go about developing a game.

Tell us more about the WiFi elements in the game.

We've looked to incorporate WiFi game modes in two ways. All of the game's mini-games offer a head-to-head challenge mode where players can battle to survive the longest or obtain the highest score. MediEvil will also feature a checkpoint style race mode using the game's levels where one player's success penalises the other player's time offering an interesting tactical challenge balancing a straight race with seeking to complete a level more thoroughly.

Are you going to include any downloadables that can be used to enhance the title at a later date?

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We're still examining the possibilities of having additional game content post release in the form of mini-games and new weaponry. Interestingly we designed and built a MediEvil style ship for WipEout Pure, so keep an eye out for that at launch!

As a developer what is the most exciting element of working on software for PSP?

To date the PSP is by far the most powerful and feature-rich hand-held available, far and away the most exciting element of developing on the system is pushing the boundaries in terms of gameplay and art on a hand-held. You really won't believe the clarity of the screen!

What features has the game got that takes into consideration the fact that the PSP is portable?

I'm sure everyone is saying pretty much the same thing, but offhand ours are a save anywhere feature, dip in and play mini-games, and a plot structured into more milestones than a conventional game to allow for shorter play sessions without losing the story-line or direction.

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