News March 22, 2017
UFG Goes Hands on With Battle Princess Madelyn!
Written By: Kenneth Seward Jr.
“Nostalgia can be a powerful yet precarious element of game design.” This is a quote from a review I did of a retro-inspired video game back in 2015. The sentiment was that, developers looking to recreate the magic of yesteryear must do more than just emulate the past – incorporating retro aesthetics and a “hardcore” difficulty setting will only get you so far…
There are many reasons why holding onto the past without acknowledging modern design is detrimental to good game development. For one, what made a title successful might elude newer developers, making it difficult for them to separate the good game mechanics from the bad. This is especially true when you consider that some games were designed poorly, despite our found memories of them; for some reason, we thought it was a good idea to require gamers to beat Ghosts ‘n Goblins (and the sequel, Ghouls ‘n Ghosts) twice before actually completing the game. Of course, this isn’t to say that retro themed games can’t be great. Just that it isn’t the easiest challenge to overcome when making video games.
This is why I kept my enthusiasm in check after seeing Causal Bit Games’ – and independent gaming start-up company based in Canada – Battle Princess Madelyn game for the first time. The last thing I wanted to do was get all excited for a new and shiny platformer, just to have my hopes dashed when the game is finally released. I’ve been hurt in the past. I did however, jump at the chance to play Battle Princess Madelyn after being offered a “first look” at the pre-alpha build. Long story short, I’m glad I didn’t pass on the opportunity!
Yes, this is the pre-alpha build that is currently available on the game’s Kickstarter page. Press codes were sent out before it launched. Stop jumping ahead!
Short story long, Battle Princess Madelyn is a 2D side scrolling game that’s reminiscent of the Ghost ‘n Goblins series. It follows a knight in training, Madelyn, as she goes about freeing her kingdom from the clutches of an evil wizard. To do this, she’ll need to traverse through several dangerous locations while dispatching a verity of enemies/monsters. I’m talking skeletons warriors, zombies, bats, some type of slime monster – all popping up just to be slain with a well place spear to the face or…whatever constitutes for a face on the slime creatures. Two hits against our heroine is the prerequisite for death, one to knock off her armor and one to finish the job. Again, it’s a lot like Ghost ‘n Goblins (or rather Ghouls ‘n Ghosts given the 16-Bit visuals).
In terms of making this feel like a Capcom classic, Causal Bit Games did a good job. What made me excited was the inclusion of new elements. After completing the first two levels, I was taken to an overworld map. From here I could enter a town to buy items, take on side quests – which sends you back into past levels, taking alternate routes to find missing loved ones or key items – and speak to NPC’s about the current happenings in Madelyn’s world. This isn’t a huge addition, most of the aforementioned elements aren’t in place right now, but it’s content that helps sell the game’s story. Here you get to talk to the people you’ve saved as opposed to only seeing them right before the end credits scrolled. It also extends the playtime in a natural way without bloating the experience; players can skip the town and its trappings if they so choose.
One of the things that stood out to me was the appropriately tuned difficulty setting. What I mean is, newcomers to this genre will actually be able to pass the third level within the first few hours of play. As much as I loved the older games Battle Princess is designed after, they were really tough way back when. The arcade version was just brutal, though that was mainly because you had to shell out 25¢ to continue playing past death. That’s not the case here. Don’t get me wrong, you will die a lot. You just won’t want to throw your controller out the window when you do. And for all of you masoc…er…hardcore gamers out there, I’m sure there will be a difficulty setting that lets you really amp things up.
Because this was a pre-alpha build, I wasn’t able to get very far. That said, I really enjoyed what I did get to experience. The old school platforming was entertaining, the difficulty felt right, and the promise of more content (sidequests and such) has me anticipating the game’s release. Apparently, judging by the fact that nearly every stretch goal for the Kickstarter has been reached in five days’ time, others are just as eager to play. Will Battle Princess Madelyn be the next big retro inspired game to be released on modern consoles? That I can’t say. What I can say is that this might be the first game I back on Kickstarter in like, forever!
Battle Princess Madelyn is set to be released on the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Xbox One, Wii U, and PC. Of course, as the Kickstarter isn’t over, there’s no release date to be shared. We’ll be sure to continue covering this title as things progress though.
Editor's Note: We updated this article to fix an error - we called Causal Bit Games, "Casual" Bit Games...yeah, we're gonna go sit in the corner now...