More skeletons in the closet.
I once went to a party with Alan Menken and the two Tim's (Leary and Burton). It was a hot day and we were all thirsty, so Timothy (Leary) made all of us some "special" Kool-aid. While sipping the magic elixir, Tim (Burton) and Al started arguing over what would make a better movie.
Tim B: "Dude, I'm gonna make me a movie where this skeleton guy is all bummed that Halloween is so creepy and Christmas gets to be all fun, y'know, with presents and stuff, so he tries to fix 'em up by learnin' the rules for Christmas...y'know?"
Al: "Aw Tim, that ain't funny...a good movie has plants! Plants that can sing and dance and stuff, and then start eatin' people between songs...and it's all in a little plant shop, a little shop of...uh...horror. Whoa."
I guess nobody noticed the guy sitting diabolically in the corner, staring at the purple smoke billowing from the barbecue in the middle of the room. He was just sitting and staring, staring and sitting... mindlessly listening to Al and Tim B. arguing. His head started to swell and throb, he was leaving trails behind his every move, and his feet were melting. That's when I went home to sleep it off. This always happens when Timothy makes Kool-aid.
Thirty years later, the diabolical man in the corner is a successful game designer working for Sony. He doesn't know where the inspiration came from, but he has a brilliant idea for a game: There's this skeleton guy that has to save the world from impending doom. Along the way he'll meet mad scientists, aliens, and plants that dance around and eat people. If nothing else good came from that party, MediEvil II was brought forth. I still wonder if Tim or Al ever got it together enough to make their movies.
You once again play Sir Daniel Fortesque, the skeleton of a 13th century knight brought back to life by an evil spell. This time, the fiendish criminal Lord Palethorn has unleashed the undead to take over the world. It's your job to stop him...and in the process add to your legend.
The game requires you to collect the "Chalice of Souls" for each level. Every time you slay a helpless victim, their soul is collected in the chalice. The chalice can only be collected when it is full, and is hidden somewhere in the level for you to find. Bringing the chalice to the Professor at the end of a level is rewarded with a new weapon; this new weapon is necessary for completing the next level.
Which rocks, seeing as how you start off with only your arm. Yes, your arm. Sir Dan pops that little sucker right out of its socket and uses it as a club. Thankfully, it is not necessary to slay all of the enemies in a level to fill the chalice, making it entirely possible to "re-arm" yourself.
Graphically, MediEvil II really shows the Playstation's power. The environments are very clean and rich with detail. The framerate is smooth and there is little, if any, pop-up. The ambiance of satirical eeriness is beautifully conveyed, and the levels are a joy to explore. MediEvil II is eye candy, to say the least.
Navigating Sir Dan through the levels is a breeze. Excellent control of both Dan and the camera makes every nook and cranny easy to reach. Each level has areas that are inaccessible the first time around; not until you learn the secret ways of the "Danhand" will you be able to fully complete your quest. Once this skill is learned, Sir Dan can remove his empty 'noggin bone' and attach it to one of the many "spare" hands roaming around the levels (kinda like the pet hand from The Addams Family). Once created, Danhand can get in and out of the little cracks and crevices that Dan is too big for. There are even puzzles that require Dan to remove his skull and use it for a task while running his headless little frame elsewhere to press buttons or flip switches.
Following the tradition of the first MediEvil, this game is a hoot. The cast is simply hilarious and the animations are a riot; killing zombies has never been more entertaining. The first swat from your sword relieves them of the burden of a left arm, then a right. Keep swinging that blade to philanthropically help them not have to deal with the pesky head on their shoulders, or the hassle of walking the earth.
There's the Spiv, an 'olde tyme' hustler with a trenchcoat full of ill-gotten merchandise for sale. Then there's the little ghost that advises you along your way. His cockney accent and wit will have you ROFLOL ('Rolling On Floor Laughing Out Loud' for you chat room virgins. God, I need to get a life). The enemies are chock full of fun as well; sailors, aliens and walking pumpkin vines that want to eat you alive add to the hilarity.
As a third-person action/adventure, MediEvil II is top notch. But at this point, we've seen a virtual host of other games that are essentially identical. While offering something very good, this isn't very original and may leave some gamers twiddling their thumbs in boredom.
For most, though, MediEvil II is an excellent game. It mixes great gameplay with humor and shakes (not stirs) it up with smooth control and splendid graphics. The result is a great looking, fun playing game that has kept me up way too late for way too many nights. I recommend it to anyone who has a sense of humor and several hours a day to spare.