Developed by:Causal Bit Games Published by:Causal Bit Games Genre(s):
  • Action
  • Platform:
  • Microsoft
  • Nintendo
  • PC
  • Sony
  • Cost:$19.99 ESRB Rating:RATING PENDING Players:1 Release date:December 6, 2018 Reviewed on:Switch

    Battle Princess Madelyn

    I’m a glutton for punishment. Apparently, the editor-in-chief of this humble website knows this; I’m often assigned the more frustrating, retro games to review. So, it came as no surprise that our review code for Battle Princess Madelyn graced my inbox.

    I read about Battle Princess Madelyn when it launched on Kickstarter back in 2017. It initially caught my eye with the graphics looking a lot like Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Huge boss battles and what seemed to be difficult 16-bit 2D platforming brought back memories of almost crushing my SNES controller in frustration. As I mentioned before, I’m a glutton for punishment. Meaning, I filed it away as a game to watch out for; our hands-on preview helped in that regard. Fast-forward a year and a half later and I’m diving into Madelyn’s world.

    I started with the game’s Story Mode. It begins with a bedridden Madelyn listening to her grandfather’s medieval tale a ’la the Princess Bride. Things don’t stay tranquil of course. Before long, her family is kidnapped and her dog Fritzy dies. From there, Madelyn (and Fritzy’s ghost) is thrust into an adventure full of slims, giant skeletons, and all manner of monsters.

    The story is well constructed and most of the gameplay elements work. Madelyn can toss spears, platform over pits, and dispatch monsters with the best of them. There’s a slight Metroidvania feel to the levels, with multiple passageways and secret rooms. Adding to the action are unlockable items, quest giving NPCs and more. The story mode isn’t bad on paper. Unfortunately, my first playthrough was hindered by odd design choices. For instance, there isn’t a map or anything that a player can use to help navigate through each level. This isn’t too bad early on – most won’t need much handholding to reach an exit – but things change for the worse when you start tackling side quests.

    This is because there are no lists. Once you’ve talked to someone (say, in a nearby town) about a quest, they never repeat it. You’ll have to remember what was asked of you. Making matters worse is the absence of a quest list. Not only did I have to remember where I was supposed to go and what I was supposed to do, I had to also had to guess the number of active quests; did this level have two side quests or one? I ended up backtracking a lot looking for clues.

    Actually, I was backtracking regardless if I was doing a side quest or not. This is because certain levels required an item or an objective to be completed before they were unlocked. The same thing goes for abilities. I was shocked to learn that Madelyn didn’t start with a double jump as it had to be earned through play. I just wanted to jump head first into the action – give me my zombies and monsters with double jump and different weapons from the get-go. This set up doesn’t work like it did in Metroid – or maybe it does, and I’ve just grown out of these mechanics – making the story mode a less rewarding experience. Thankfully, there’s an arcade mode.

    Arcade Mode is where the meat and potatoes are/what I’ve been looking for. The basic gameplay is similar. She’ll still battle monsters in side-scrolling 2D levels, deal with tough bosses, and so on. That said, the levels are streamlined and Madelyn has all of her abilities from the start. It isn’t easier than the story mode (it’s actually harder). It’s not as unforgiving as the Capcom titles though. For instance, Fritzy will collect orbs throughout the game, filling a bar at the top of the screen. By depleting these reserves, players will be able to respawn where they died instead of at the beginning of a level. It won’t keep them from becoming frustrated after multiple deaths, but it does help in balancing out the game’s difficulty curve.

    You can tell Causal Bit Games really developed Madelyn as a love letter to Capcom’s Ghost’s ‘n Goblins series, especially Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. The art style is bright and colorful, with separate and distinct themes for every level. The boss battles are brutal, yet fun. The action is familiar and refreshing. The chiptunes stay in your brain, and the controls are tight. It’s what a 2D side scrolling platformer should be. Lack of a time attack mode or an ability to select levels after completing them would have been some icing on the cake. Hopefully, Causal will add those things in a future patch.

    Battle Princess Madelyn isn’t perfect. The story mode was a good attempt at a narrative based type of game. It was unnecessarily confusing and tedious in design though. The arcade mode is phenomenal as it absolutely hits that brutal gameplay that fans longed for. Although I have yet to reach the end credits (that last level is absolute torture), I have a feeling I’ll be returning to Madelyn’s world for some time to come.



    The controls are tight and responsive, the platforming and monster bashing is fun - basically, If you're fan of games like Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts, you'll like Battle Princess Madelyn.



    The background and foreground effects look 16-bit, but I guess technically would be considered 32-bit graphics due to the added detail. Hand drawn pixel art is definitely noticed and appreciated.



    Two modes of soundtrack, orchestral and arcade, give a little bit of range in choice. Regardless of what you choose, the music is catchy and sounds relate to the action on screen.

    Replay Value:


    Although the arcade mode is excellent and saves the game, the story mode lacks direction and is plagued with roadblocks.

    Final Score:


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