Causal Bit Games have created Battle Princess Madelyn, a side scrolling adventure featuring classic gameplay reminiscent of Capcom’s classic Ghosts ‘n Goblins series. In Battle Princess Madelyn players will take on the role of Madelyn, a young knight in training. Together with her ghostly pet dog Fritzy, she sets out on a journey to save her kingdom and family from an evil wizard.
Players are presented with two ways to play through the game. The full-blown Story Mode or the more plain and straightforward Arcade mode. Arcade mode features many of the game’s later features already unlocked and provides an easier experience overall. In fact, if it wasn’t for Arcade mode, most players probably wouldn’t finish this game or get to fight many of the well-designed bosses.
The story mode is where the game aims to please but unfortunately, there are too many things gone awry and the entire experience is sullied. As Madelyn, players will run, jump and throw spears at enemies. Platforming through areas is enjoyable up until you realize that the game does not tell you what to do or where to go. Even after encountering NPCs that give you quests, there isn’t much direction and players will often find themselves lost as to what to do.
Completing quests is another issue that needs mentioning. After speaking to an NPC, there isn’t an option to re-read what they first said. Therefore, if you missed out on some text the first time around or come back to the game after a hiatus, you’ll probably forget what to do for a specific NPC. This then turns into a “How to complete these quests” conundrum and only through some serious backtracking through levels and areas will you eventually be able to fulfill quest requirements. This is an unfortunate oversight on the developer’s side and should be rectified with a future patch or the addition of a story journal or quest log to help gamers.
Gameplay in Battle Princess Madelyn is quite straightforward with Madelyn being able to defeat enemies by throwing spears at them. Running, jumping and climbing are standard fare and platforming through the levels is actually enjoyable at times. Only “at times” though because some levels or areas are infuriating with their design. Players should not have to suffer multiple deaths trying to get through an area just because there’s an excessive amount of enemies firing projectiles at you while having to jump across dangerous pits. Some balance tweaks are definitely necessary and the ability to actually look down would be useful. More often than not you’ll fall to your death because you won’t know if dropping down leads to a traversable path or to your doom.
Upgrading your equipment is another issue in the game. Playing through the story mode, unlocking new equipment is not easy since players will have to travel to a Blacksmith to upgrade their equipment using collectible shards. Defeating bosses should provide players with upgrades but alas, it doesn’t. In the Arcade mode, upgrades are dropped by enemies which alleviates some of the story mode’s problems.
Much like in Ghosts ‘n Goblins, players will only be able to survive two hits. After you are hit once, your armour falls off and Madelyn becomes extremely vulnerable. Get hit again and you’ll die. This isn’t a major issue though since a bolt of lightning will hit you and you’ll instantly respawn on the spot. If this happens more than you have lives though, you’ll end up respawning at a checkpoint and have to struggle through back to where you died. You do get used to this though and the game generally isn’t unfairly difficult. This is of course apart from a few platforming sections that will make you want to throw your Nintendo Switch out the window.
The graphical aesthetic of Battle Princess Madelyn is reminiscent of 80s and 90s cartoons. It’s incredibly charming and the game’s environments are visually pleasing. There is the odd slowdown occasionally and the game seems to hang between loading new areas though. The soundtrack is nothing to write home about but certainly won’t annoy you and does its job.
Overall, Battle Princess Madelyn is a tribute to Ghosts ‘n Goblins gone wrong. The game does enough to satisfy you through its Arcade mode and perplexes you with its Story mode’s design choices but that’s about it. Paying full price for this title would probably infuriate many and there’s still so much more to be fixed and reworked in the title. As a Kickstarter baby, maybe this is to be expected but when games such as Monster Boy and the Cursed Kingdom exist on Nintendo Switch, it’s extremely hard to justify spending $20 on Battle Princess Madelyn. It’s a hit or miss attempt at 2D platforming excellence and probably only worth picking up on a sale or if you’re desperate for a throwback to a classic era of gaming.