MediEvil (partially found original arcade version of PlayStation action-adventure game; 1997-1998)
MediEvil is a hack 'n slash comedy horror game developed by the British company SCE Studio Cambridge and published by Sony in October 1998 as a PlayStation 1-exclusive title. The game is heavily influenced by the works of Tim Burton and German Expressionism arts, while additionally inspired by movies such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Adamms' Family. The game sets in the medieval period of the 14th century, centring around a reluctant skeleton knight named Sir Daniel Fortesque, who was killed in the first charge of the battle, then one century later after being mistakenly resurrected by Zarok's necromancy, his ultimate goal is to go on a long journey around the fictional land of Gallowmere and prove himself as a true hero by taking vengeance on the twisted sorcerer and restore peace for Gallowmere.
The game has been under development for almost 3 years before release, starting back as late as December 1995. The design and graphics for the game began on early 1996, and programming started on Summer around the same year. In late 1997 and earlier 1998, as revealed in old promotions (such as trailers and magazines) before the game's official release, MediEvil was originally more different than its final cut, with more than 22 levels and arcade-like mechanics, which were described as styled after Ghouls 'n Ghosts. MediEvil in this peculiar version was potentially scheduled to come out in Autumn 1997 but the game's release was put on hold due to the development team's unsatisfactory with the game's initial concept and wanting to add more action to it. The game has faced several delays before it was delayed for the final time to October when the team decided to go for a whole drastic game direction, transforming MediEvil into a more The Legend of Zelda-like game. As a result, most of the early content were either scrapped or repurposed.
The early promotion trailer video, which was speculated to be made and completed on either December 1997 or January 1998, shows what the game's early version could have really been, but as of today, the full arcade version was never entirely surfaced. Fortunately, a couple of playable prototype demos related to this version are recovered.
Originally a whole different game, its gameplay functions were more simple and arcade-like.
- Items - The item's closer model view will display at the right side of the screen, signifying that the player is close to the item's location. Though pick-ups exist, no quest artifacts were ever found in this version.
- Potions - Potions were scattered around every level and players can use them for their battle aid. There were three kinds of potions found in the demos, although the game files reveal four more potions, suggesting that there are plans to add more potions for the game's full arcade version. In the game's final release, the potions were scrapped but some were repurposed for other things.
- Extra Life - Dan's skull was used as an extra life instead of a life bottle.
- Health Pick-up - Instead of an energy vial, there were two energy bones (green bone for health refill, and blue bone for extending the health bar).
- Scoring - Players can earn score points instead of souls, as the chalice was not implemented at that time. Points can be earned by not only killing enemies but also collecting money bags.
- Stamina - The stamina meter was a mechanic that was seen in the game's E3 1997 footage. It represents as a bar in between two icons of Dan's skull: the left icon shows Dan grinning and the right shows Dan frowning. When Dan starts running, the stamina will display at the bottom center of the screen, slowly draining. If the stamina runs out, it will automatically force Dan to stop running, before re-filling back up. The stamina was featured in few prototypes but seems to be broken. In the late-1997/early-1998 trailer, the stamina was not there, suggesting that the mechanic was likely scrapped.
- Chests - Chests were originally purple and textured with a question mark. They seal not only the small sword, throwing daggers, club, or any shields but also other weapons and sometimes potions.
- Enemies - The enemies can spawn and respawn frequently. Sometimes they can drop pick-ups upon death.
- Bosses - The bosses' health bar is originally red instead of yellow, and a whole lack of visible health points. On top of that, the Guardians of the Graveyard are the only bosses not to appear in the arcade version, due to the "Return to the Graveyard" level remain unplanned. Instead, a hulking, headless blue humanoid boss was originally planned to appear in the cut "Circle of Shadows" level.
- Weapons - A total number of 14 weapons was planned, but other weapons like the hammer and arm are not included, with the trident originally on the list but was removed in the game's final version. Instead of unlocking weapons from the Hall of Heroes (which was not planned before), weapons were found in chests but there is no inventory to switch weapons. Range weapons have unlimited use.
The game was originally planned to include a total of 30 levels, however the "Return to the Graveyard", "Inside the Asylum", and "The Hall of Heroes" level were not on the list. Formerly, the level list's chronological order was differently shuffled (for example, completing "The Crystal Caves" level will take the player to the "Pumpkin Gorge" level instead of "The Gallows Gauntlet" level). In the game's final launch, the team reduced the number of levels to 22, with 8 levels entirely cut.
Here is the early level list:
- NOTE - The levels that were cut in the final game are texted in bold.
- The Graveyard
- The Coffin Vaults
- Cemetery Hill
- The Desecrated Church
- The Scarecrow Fields
- The Fields of Dust
- The Ant Caves
- The Crystal Caves
- Pumpkin Gorge
- The Pumpkin Serpent
- The Sleeping Village
- Pools of the Ancient Dead
- The River
- The Muddy Riverbank
- The Mud Slide
- The Asylum Grounds
- The Enchanted Earth
- Dan's Crypt
- The Gallows Gauntlet
- The Haunted Ruins
- Circle of Shadows
- The Silver Wood
- The Ghost Ship
- The Entrance Hall
- The Hall of Illusions
- The Hub
- The Great Machine
- The Time Device
- The Lake
- Zarok's Lair
Perhaps the most infamous cut level is the dragon level, titled "The Silver Wood". There exists a level that was cut from the game, which involved Dan running from a dragon called the Jabberwocky (named after Lewis Carroll's poetry). Co-creator Jason Wilson has confirmed in an interview that this level was removed for the final release due to time constraints, with the dragon chase being shown instead only in the form of an FMV (referred as 9AV).
The only footage that has been seen from the cut dragon level exist in the form of a few snippets which can be found in an old MediEvil pre-release trailer, as well as in a short making-of documentary (both included on various PlayStation 1 demo discs, and both of which have since been uploaded to YouTube).
Interestingly, the 9AV cutscene was originally divided into three parts: The first part where Dan fell to the forest is used for the "Circle of Shadows" level, the second part where the Jabberwocky chased after Dan is used for "The Silver Wood" level, and the third part where Dan gets rescued by the vulture from the Jabberwocky is used for "The Ghost Ship" level. Few clips of 9AV's second part can also be seen in the pre-release trailer, and the full video clip was found in the September 1997 prototype's files.
Found deep within the Rolling Demo's files, there were unused texture assets for the dragon level as well as the Jabberwocky itself. A nearly-finished map layout for the level can also be accessed in the September 1997 prototype, but due to its unfinished state, the Jabberwocky cannot spawn.
There were two scrapped minigame-like levels starring Morton the Earthworm. One of the levels was to take place in the Asylum before the actual "Inside the Asylum" level (perhaps explaining why the FMV was removed in the first place). However, no footage from said cut level has ever surfaced, and it's unknown exactly how far into development the level actually got (although Wilson has stated -in the prior mentioned interview- that he got as far as illustrating the level, and creating a mockup). Finally, there is an unused piece of audio that can still be found within the final release (by utilising the game's debug menu), which many speculate to be from the dragon level, although in the same interview, Wilson stated that he is unsure which of the scrapped levels it was composed for if either of them.
In addition, there exists an FMV (that, at first glance, seems to have been intended to take place before the "Inside the Asylum" level) that was cut from the final game, however, this FMV can still be seen by using an FMV viewer within MediEvil, unlockable via cheat code.
There are some known prototypes related to the game's original arcade version, but they are different to what was seen in the early promo trailer.
The earliest known version. It was only seen in a couple of previews as trailer videos, dated March 13th, 1997.
It is similar to its original arcade version, but the health meter is instead a health bone counter which holds up to 99 bones. The equipped weapon icon displays at the top center of the screen instead of the left. Some of the environment models are missing their textures.
Zombie enemies and their headless counterparts appear in the Pumpkin Gorge level, though they were likely used as placeholders before they were replaced by the pumpkin monsters later on. The early versions of the wolf enemies of the "Return to the Graveyard" level were also seen encountered in "The Sleeping Village" level.
The most unusual enemy that was quickly removed in later versions was a scrambling, legless, headless green zombie variant. According to its briefly-seen concept art from the game's design history video by Jason Wilson, the enemy was called the "Tumbling Torso".
The only public prototype demo that can be played in 1997 PlayStation demo discs. The demo's build was finished on August 14, 1997, while the hacked version was uploaded in March 2013.
The prototype is nearly identical to its pre-Rolling Demo build. The demo supports 10 playable levels. However, most levels suffer with partly unfinished quality, with "The Graveyard", "The Desecrated Church", and "The Asylum Grounds" as the only exceptions.
There is a whole list of 30 levels, but aside from 10 available levels, the other levels were not contained in the files, making it impossible to access them. There was the "Inside the Asylum" level (possibly Morton's cut level) before it was replaced by "Dan's Crypt" level for the list's finalized version.
An unused trident weapon is found using cheat commands, but the game crashes if the weapon is used.
ECTS 1997 Demo
This "post-Rolling Demo" prototype was dated September 7th, 1997, and recovered by Hwd45 and Anonymous on September 17th, 2022.
This prototype resembles closer to the version seen in its early pre-release trailer. It includes all available levels in the list, both used and unused levels. "The Graveyard" and "The Ant Caves" level look almost completed in state, but other levels that were previously available on the Rolling Demo nearly remain the same. The half-finished versions of "The Crystal Caves" and "The Pumpkin Serpent" level are now playable. The rest of the levels, along with cut levels, appear to be under early development and feature no enemies, items, etc.
A huge load of unused models (such as the Jabberwocky, the tumbling zombie torso, a trident-wielding mermaid, and even Morton) were seen in the files. Most of these never-before-seen models affiliate with the cut levels.
MediEvil (Pre-Release Promo Version)
The most recognizable version of the game's development history. Although unreleased, this version was shown off as a nearly full version of the ECTS 1997 demo.
Other previously-seen levels from the Rolling Demo and ECTS 1997 demo are seen in their near-completed state: "Dan's Crypt", "Scarecrow Fields", "The Pumpkin Serpent", "The River", "The Muddy Riverbank", "The Enchanted Earth", "The Silver Wood", and "The Great Machine". However, the scene clips for "The Ghost Ship" level are taken from the Rolling Demo, implying that the level is not yet in its finished version.
MediEvil (Early Pre-Finalized Version)
Another unreleased version is the game's early non-arcade build found in the German magazine MANiAC #55 and Video Games magazine, both dated May 1998. More preview screenshots are also seen in the game's section from PlayStation Zone Demo Volume 1. This latest pre-release build was mostly similar to the game's version from the old promo trailer, but there are some notable differences.
The magazines reveals that MediEvil now includes 20 levels instead of 30. Although this may be a typo, as there are actually 22 levels in the game's final build.
While the health bar and life counter look the same, the score counter is now what seems to be an enemy kill counter, possibly the earlier version of the chalice soul score. In a few screenshots, the levels’ areas are now closer to what was seen in the game’s final version, such as “The Asylum Grounds” where it removes the area that includes the gory hedge sculptures after the hedge elephant. As evidenced by the Pumpkin King's screenshot, the boss health bar is missing.
More NPCs are introduced, such as the Forest Witch and the Fairy. The Information Gargoyles were also added, formerly called "Help Gargoyles", as they meant to appear in a bigger number as the player's recurring guide. At the end of the game's development, they were replaced by books. Regardless of the game's rework, the gargoyles as books were still used for a couple of mid-1998 prototypes until in later versions.
The May of 1998 is strongly likely the date where the whole new game direction change took place. Nevertheless, some oversight oddities were found in later European magazines, such as July 1998's French magazine Player One Magazine #88 where the game's page display screenshots from the ECTS 1997 demo.
Despite receiving an entire overhaul, few screenshots related to the game's previous version were last seen on the second page of late-October 1998's French magazine Console Plus Numero #81, and there is a minor misleading information stating that the game feature 30 levels instead of 22 levels. In later pages of this magazine, details and screenshots of the game's full final release are seen.
Weirdly enough, the back side of the game's disc case from its initial European release contain early pre-finalization screenshots.
- Rolling Demo prototype on Hidden Palace
- Post-Rolling Demo prototype on Hidden Palace
- Sony ECTS 1997 PlayStation Press Pack on MediEvil Wiki
- MediEvil's Design History - Jay Gunn Stories, Design and Art. Retrieved 19 Sep '22.
- Official Australian PlayStation Magazine 9 April 1998. Retrieved 20 Sep '22.
- MANiAC.N055.1998.05. Retrieved 22 Sep '22]
- 2012 online interview with MediEvil co-creator Jason Wilson. Retrieved 03 Jun '13.
- Video Games ( Deutsch) 1998-05. Retrieved 23 Sep '22
- Player One Magazine (French) Issue 088. Retrieved 23 Sep '22
- Console Plus Numero 081. Retrieved 23 Sep '22