Little Sips: Battle Princess Madelyn Demo – Review
Battle Princess Madelyn developed and published by Causal 8 Bit Games Inc. (not Casual as it says in the audio version, sorry) with additional publishing by Hound Picked Games, is an old school action platformer, heavily inspired by classic SNES games, most notably the Ghosts n’ Goblins franchise.
The story outlined in the demo is pretty simple, a classic story of good vs evil, an evil wizard has thrown the land into chaos and done some kidnapping, you know typical evil guy stuff, the twist here (if you can call it that), is that instead of a valiant knight on a quest to defeat the evil wizard and rescue the princess, in BPM you play as Princess Madelyn and quest to defeat the evil wizard to rescue your family.
Pretty much if you’ve played Ghosts n’ Goblins then you’ll know what to expect, Madelyn is essentially just Arthur, she can run (with the same kind of big arm swinging walk cycle), jump, double jump (physics be damned!) and throw spears in multiple directions, the objective in most levels is to get to a certain place which then brings you to the next level, to do this you’ll need to traverse fairly large sprawling stages, that feel a little like Sonic the Hedgehog levels in their set out, with generally multiple possible routes, as opposed to say a Megaman game which is normally more linear.
Like in G n’ G (and plenty of other platformers from the same time period), you will also need to take on bosses in some stages, in the demo you fight a giant skeleton with a massive sword, who alternates between swinging his sword, jumping and hitting the roof to shake down more enemies and what appears to be the MC Hammer shuffle dance.
After beating both level stages and the boss, you will be taken to the world map, where you can choose to replay any of the levels, you can also go back to a town and talk to townspeople for clues, and to receive rewards from quests, that generally involve finding someone in one of the levels and saving them, the reward for saving them is bizarrely a doll, which you can look at back in the castle.
The controls of the game are very tight, so you’re able to make pixel perfect jumps and avoid incoming attacks based more on skill than just dumb luck.
Ok, so before I said that it was bizarre to receive a doll as a quest reward, however it all sort of makes sense when you understand the conception of the game, because it appears that Madelyn, is a real person, the daughter of the Creator, Director and Lead Artist Christopher Obritsch, the idea behind the game stems from Madelyn watching her dad play through the first level of Ghouls n’ Ghosts and asking to be in it, this also explains why there are such similarities to the G n’ G series (right down to the Hero/Heroine losing their armor to indicate damage has been taken), as the game is essentially just fan fiction, however there is a history of fan fiction becoming as popular or even more so than the original work, especially when it’s well made.
Graphically Battle Princess Madelyn, is just like the higher end SNES games of the past, which is to say that it has very detailed pixel based sprite art, fun and lively designs, and vibrant colors, over all, I couldn’t fault BPM on the graphics at all, it’s an endearing and well set out art style that is both nostalgic for those who grew up with Capcom’s SNES classics, and heart warming even for those who thought Nintendo just made motion controlled or portable consoles, (or in the case of the Switch, both).
Sound is once again, very retro, very inspired by the golden age of SNES games, and very wonderful, the music in the levels is perfectly appropriate for the game and wouldn’t feel out of place in an actual G n’ G game, same with the sound effects, everything from picking up coins and money bags to exploding skeletons by chucking spears at them, the one thing BPM has over the actual SNES classics though, voice acting, when Madelyn falls in battle she will audibly cry out with a line about revenge or not giving up, despite everything else in the game feeling so authentic to what the SNES could do, the voice acting doesn’t stand out as being out of place, rather it feels right at home and brought a smile to my face.
Overall, Battle Princess Madelyn, is a love letter to both classic SNES titles and the Director’s daughter, mostly inspired by Ghosts n’ Goblins, but with shades of other titles and media, there are Metroidvania styled secrets to uncover, some slight Megaman vibes, and Madelyn is accompanied by Fritzy her former dog turned ghost dog (who reminds me of Zero from The Nightmare Before Christmas), the game has a few things that irk me such as enemies seemingly endlessly respawning when you leave the screen and come back (like in Megaman) and some even when you stand still or waste time fighting and collecting, the other thing that frustrated me greatly was the amount of times I was hurt or defeated by an enemy I couldn’t see or that appeared literally underneath me with no chance to avoid it, both of these issues are also prevalent in the genre as a whole so it might just be me that gets frustrated by them, I could have also done with a map, even if you have to fill it out manually like Metroid or Castlevania it would still be helpful, but other than those things I enjoyed it a lot.
In coffee terms, I found Battle Princess Madelyn to be like a classic straight black, it’s been around since basically the start because it’s a satisfying blend, over the years people have tried to mess with the blend, adding things to try and make it more modern and fresh, but the classic blend is classic for a reason, so why not serve it up the way it used to be, just in a pink mug instead of the usual white.