Battle Princess Madelyn is a retro-looking 2D Metroidvania game from Causal Bit Games and published by Hound Picked Games. Are you looking for a hardcore Metroidvania release for the holidays? Then check out our Battle Princess Madelyn review!
Madelyn, Madelyn, it’s time to get up! You have a big journey ahead of you, saving us all from an evil wizard. You’ve trained for this day, and the ghost of your pet dog, Fritzy, will remain by your side. We believe in you!
All good adventures need a hero, and that hero is you, Madelyn. Traveling the world through magical portals beyond the realms of time and space, you will journey to far off lands, as I tell you a story that will leave your bedroom far behind. For there is a kingdom, you see, that is in peril, and it is up to you to save it, and everyone you know, from the terrifying clutches of an evil wizard.
Accompanied by the ghost of Fritzy, your pet dog, you must avenge him, restoring order once again. Tackling all manner of deadly foes, you will overcome sinister graveyards, murky swamps, and looming castles to achieve your goal. It will be difficult, but we all believe in you Madelyn, we know you can do it!
Battle Princess Madelyn – Trailer
This is a double review for Battle Princess Madelyn. Ceidz and ThaRaven403 played the game, and this review presents what they both had to say.
The story of Battle Princess Madelyn kicks off with a nice cinematic, which looks like it was taken from a 1980’s cartoon show. It stats with Madelyn, a little girl that receives a visit from her grandpa while she’s sick at home. Although she would’ve preferred to play her video game, she ends up listening to her grandpa’s story, a story about a young Princess named Madelyn…
And thus your quest begins outside of the castle, with close to no indications as to what you have to do. You’ll encounter a few villagers that will give you some hints and side-quests, but other than that you’ll have to side-scroll your way through the levels to find out more. The game is your typical arcade side-scrolling action release with pretty simple gameplay mechanics that make it really easy to pick up. You can jump and attack, and that’s pretty much it for a bit. You also have your friendly ghost dog that can help you with some attacks and other abilities, but since these use up the same magic points that can be used to revive you if you die, it can be wise not to use him too much.
As you progress, you’ll encounter hordes of monsters that can come out of pretty much anywhere, so you always have to be on your guard. There’s a bit of platforming involved to make it to some places, which can end up being hard because of some sneaky enemy placement with foes that attack you as fast as a machine gun, leaving you close to no time to avoid them, thus falling off the platform. But you’ll learn from your mistakes as you go, figuring out a level’s layout so that you can carry on with your quest.
If you’ve played the excellent Ghosts ‘n Goblins on the NES way back when it came out in 1988 (or its sequel that came out in 1991), you’ll notice a lot of similarities. The character animations closely resemble that game, even up to how you take hits where the first hit strips you off of your armor to have you fighting the undead in your underwear! That game had a somewhat unique style that hasn’t really been used throughout the years, so it was great to see a game that is faithful to this look!
Nowadays, we’re used to having games like this where you have a map, a list of side-quests, a list of story objectives, and pretty much everything you can think of to make your life easier. Battle Princess Madelyn doesn’t have any of that. You have to venture on your own, and with relentless enemies, it ends up making the progression a bit difficult. But despite this, and the many deaths I suffered, I kept coming back to try and reach the end of the levels while trying to discover all the secrets hidden in each area!
And speaking of those secrets, there is a lot to find in each of the levels, and they’re all needed for the trophies if you want that shiny Platinum for your collection! There are a few grindy trophies, like killing 5000 enemies and gathering 100,000 gold pieces, but other than that it’ll mostly be a matter of exploring everything. If you are patient enough, I’m sure some motivated folks on the internet will eventually come up with maps of the levels, making for a Platinum that should be attainable.
Like ThaRaven403 mentioned, the game begins with a cut-scene with Madelyn in her bed, playing with her tablet. She’s sick so she has the day off and her grandfather comes to tell her the story of a Princess who, by chance, is also called Madelyn. At first, she doesn’t have any interest in it, but then she starts to listen carefully when she hears the main character has the same name as her, and we are then presented with a 1980’s animation opening cut-scene which caught me by surprise as it was really good and felt like watching a Saturday morning cartoon from back in the day.
Madelyn is accompanied by Fritzy, her ghost dog, which has magic power that will be handy when you die in a level… and you’ll die plenty of times since this game’s difficulty is set more on the hard side. Even though the game is hard, I liked how the Battle Princess Madelyn doesn’t hold our hand with lengthy tutorials for basic stuff, since the tutorials themselves are written as optional hints, leaving you the luxury of getting the hang of the game’s gameplay mechanics on your own. Oh, and speaking of difficulty, as is the case in games such as, for example, the 2D old-school Castlevania series, being hit will knock you backward, which often means falling into a pit if you’re not careful.
The main issue I had with Battle Princess Madelyn is getting lost in its huge levels. After the first boss, we obtain a “map,” which I thought was much needed to navigate in the different levels, but the map is effectively just a device that allows you to warp to other parts of the world at specific portals. When I received the map, I was expecting to be able to recognize where I was in the grand world of Battle Princess Madelyn, but it isn’t the case. You are on your own and must navigate this one by learning the layout by memory. I think a proper in-game map is the one area where this release could be improved, so hopefully the team is working on this in the next patch for the PlayStation 4.
There’s also an Arcade Mode available which is similar to the main campaign but removes some of the dungeon complexity by changing things to a simplified left-to-right sidescroller action adventure, which showcases the game’s Ghouls ‘n Ghosts inspiration. I enjoyed this mode, which certainly adds points for the game in my book, since it felt way easier to navigate the levels and I could get new weapons by defeating enemies, had access to the double jump and to Fritzy’s skills from the start.
As for the game’s presentation, I definitively loved the retro-looking art style. The environments are varied and colorful, and I also liked the touch of having a few enemies having animations in 3D over the sprites, like in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. With that being said, the greatest hit from Battle Princess Madelyn is its soundtrack, made available both in chiptune or orchestral versions. I loved the main theme before even starting the game, and loved the many new songs I got to listen to as I progressed through the game. I’d like to mention however that the volume of the soundtrack is WAY too loud, and I woke up my kids more than once as I was starting the game late at night. There isn’t a way to balance the sound in-game, which is not a deal-breaker but something for the team to consider in subsequent patches.
We both liked playing Battle Princess Madelyn even though we thought that there was certainly room for improvement to the game. The art style is superb, and we do have to emphasize how the dual soundtrack pretty much stole the show. We can’t wait for the soundtrack to be released so that we can listen to it at home, in the car or at work! Those of you who backed the game on Kickstarter at the soundtrack tier will be getting a copy of the soundtracks as well, and we’re jealous of the backers who pledged for the limited edition boxed set since you’re getting the soundtracks on physical CD!
This Battle Princess Madelyn review is based on PlayStation 4 copies provided by Hound Picked Games.