Reviewed by Thomas
- Developer: Casual Bit Games
- Publisher: Casual Bit Games Inc.
- Release Date: 07/1/2019
- Price: $19.99 / £13.49
- Review Code Provided by Casual Bit Games
Battle Princess Madelyn is the perfect title for a Nintendad review. Throughout my play through it seemed evident there were deeply personal connections driving this story. Most games can be deemed a “passion project”, especially by those indie developers who sacrifice so much with little resources and small teams. Yet Battle Princess Madelyn felt different.
Prior to jumping into the action, this story starts in a modern day bedroom with a child, Maddi, playing fictitious Buildykraft on a tablet. Her grandfather, Grampy, enters the room to regale her with a tale of a brave warrior princess, Madelyn, who has to save her family from evil. It wasn’t the overused story of hero saves world that intrigued me. It was the story of Maddi and the origins of the game itself.
It turns out, creative director Christopher Obritsch made this game for his daughter Madelyn. As a father who enjoys playing games with my children, that is the tale which resonated deeply with me. I highly encourage everyone who plays Battle Princess Madelyn to check the credits. You’ll find that the connection continues with the creative team and in fact Madelyn Obristch is credited with creative director and story. This is the tale of the Battle Princess, Madelyn.
Double Jump is the True Hero
The gameplay puts you in control of Princess Madelyn as she battles from stage to stage. An action platformer which echoes its retro roots right down to nearly pulling your hair out. My biggest gripe with the game was a lack of clear direction. I spent a lot time going back and forth between levels unsure of what to do next. There were key sections which are required to progress in the game that gave little clue on how to tackle them. For example, I held two boss keys in my inventory. Neither would open the door to a required boss. This caused me to spend precious time repeating areas looking for a hint of how to get the door open. A detailed quest list or clearly marked inventory would have helped in streamlining without taking the challenge out of the platforming.
For those looking for a tough platformer then Battle Princess Madelyn will meet your demand. The levels are varied in aesthetic and difficulty. Not necessarily in order where each level becomes harder as the game progresses. I actually enjoyed the flow. Going from a really difficult board to a less challenging one was a nice change of pace. The boss battles seemed to get easier the further you went. Part of that was in the upgrade of you weapons and armor. Mostly, however it just required standing in the right spot and you rarely get hit. The bosses that required you to move around and dodge were predictable with their patterns. The ease of defeating these foes, even the final boss, never dulled my experience. Watching a boss crumble and explode still brought a sigh of relief and satisfaction that I was moving forward in the story. Some may find the easy boss battles off putting as they don’t match the difficulty of the overall game.
In addition to the main storyline are side quests. I often forgot who asked for an item or which level they said it was in. I ignored a lot of the fetch quests because there was no easy way to track them. I learned, as mentioned above, that some side quests are required to find an item to tackle a main story boss. Once I suffered from that blunder I began taking screenshots of the quest details that I could refer to later.
Apart from the main story is arcade mode. I went into arcade mode expecting the same story and levels to repeat. I was pleased to find new enemies and designs to familiar levels. This made playing the arcade mode exciting as I wanted to see how each biome differed. Arcade mode even featured the same story intro. Instead of the animated cutscene it was redone as a pixelated version. I appreciated that little touch as it matched the presentation of the gameplay.
Like Music to My Ears
From the gorgeous cutscenes at the start and end of the story to the pixels in between, Battle Princess Madelyn did a tremendous job creating a retro vibe with the graphics. The sprites were well animated and reminiscent of games I grew up playing. Battle Princess Madelyn could have come out in the 90’s and would have blended in with all the other titles of that time. I say that as a compliment. It was charming to watch and see what each new land would bring. Every level was hand crafted to fit the lore and world. It’s clear a lot of detail went into each pixel.
The sound was equally mesmerizing. A full orchestra background was a joy to listen to. Each level had unique music which matched its locale. For those looking for a truly retro experience could change the music to a chiptune arcade style. As I played in arcade mode, I couldn’t help but change the music to match as I traipsed through the levels seeking the highest score.
Don’t Step on the Bugs
In true retro fashion, I encountered a few bugs and glitches. Madelyn and enemies occasionally disappear from the screen. The former wasn’t as bad as you could attack and find your location by watching your weapons. The latter was more difficult as you would be knocked back to your death by an invisible assailant. I also ran into an issue where everything slowed down for Madelyn and the attack button wouldn’t work. This lag would happen at the most inconvenient times as well. Nothing like trying to avoid a cliff by bounding from ledge to ledge with swarms of enemies and you start to lag. The first time it happened was in handheld mode. I assumed it was a limitation until it happened when docked. Both occurrences were in different locations and I was never able to duplicate each instance. The final technical problem I ran into were invincible fish. At first I thought it part of the challenge of the board. Some of the fish would pass through me leaving Madelyn unscathed and others would cause damage. The frustration of this area multiplied when I couldn’t destroy the fish. After attempting to pass this section numerous times I finally had to shut off the game and take a break. When I returned, I could suddenly fight the fish.
I played Battle Princess Madelyn 50% in docked mode and 50% in handheld mode. There are a few games that I avoid playing in handheld due to the difficulty of the joy cons over a pro controller. That was not the case here. It handled well when portable and was fun to play on the go.
Though I’m not the greatest at the platforming genre, I enjoyed Battle Princess Madelyn. There were times when the game was challenging and pushed me to become a better player. There were also times when I wanted to pull my hair out either because a section was poorly designed and confusing or enemies took advantage of glitches and lag. Having access to a map or being able to check your surroundings would have gone a long way at easing some tension. A few small things made the game seem rushed. When defeating a boss the coins would vanish before you could gather them or a cut scene would take you instantly out of the area with no chance to claim your reward. Other times, the chests gifted to you by ghosts never revealed what was inside. A few times I wondered if I missed out on an item. It was experiences like these which marred an otherwise exceptional game. I would still recommend Battle Princess Madelyn to anyone who enjoys platforming games or a challenge.
My Children’s Two Cents
Like I mentioned at the start of this review, Battle Princess Madelyn was a great title for Nintendad. As such I played the game with my kids. Each of them loved the art and story. Though too difficult for my younger children they still enjoyed watching the game unfold and seeing a strong heroine.
My nine year old daughter found it poetic that after Fritzy died, he bridged the world of souls between the enemies and Madelyn. She pointed out that Fritzy absorbed the enemies essence and in turn used it to keep Madelyn alive. Whether intentional or not I had to agree with her.
- Touching Story
- Satisfying Platformer
- Beautiful Art and Music
- Arcade Mode
- Easy Boss Battles
- Easy Boss Battles
- Invisible Enemies
- Retro Lag
- Confusing Level Design