25/12/2018

๐Ÿ‘ธ⚔ Review: Battle Princess Madelyn "Great music, chunky visuals and a sense of humour" ๐Ÿ‘ธ⚔ #IndieGames #GameDev

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I had a friend back this during its initial Kickstarter drive and so I was intrigued how the final product would play out. Having spent some time with the game over the last week, I’m pleased to say that if you are a fan of Ghosts N Goblins / Ghouls N Ghosts, you’ll feel right at home. 
If, however you were keen to try the Story Mode…I feel you may come away somewhat disappointed.
The long-dormant Ghouls N Ghosts series is a personal favourite of mine and I still regularly blast through it (or at least as far as I can get without crushing my controller into dust) on a pretty regular basis, it remains one of my favourite arcade titles of the 80’s. 


Battle Princess Madelyn aims to recapture that sense of comedy horror themed platforming action, and, in the arcade mode, does so wonderfully, it’s very close to its forefather, more specifically, Ghouls N Ghosts, the second in the series, originally released in 1988.
The similarities will be instantly noticeable to any fans of the series, the run / jump animation, art-style, weapons, musical cues and sound effects (I detected some Quackshot-esque notes at some points, good) and the fact that after a single hit, Madelyn’s armour falls off leaving her in her night-dress are all big nods towards the original games.
The pixel work here is chunky, much more so than in other games that I’ve played in the same genre and there are some options to have either an orchestral or ‘arcade’ score (I chose the latter) or to add CRT effect scanlines should you wish to do so. Beyond this, you’ll dive into one of the two modes and this is where the game essentially splits into two, uneven halves.
The arcade mode is a pure blast of frantic platforming action. Madelyn starts off by getting her dog killed by a demonic force, only to have instantly brought back as a ghost who can aid her in her quest by collecting souls to charge up his own attacks. After some brief, wordless exposition, the game wastes no time in getting the action moving. 
Starting in a graveyard (natch) Madelyn makes her way across several seamless levels in a bid to quash the evil forces that surround her. And when I say seamless, I really mean it. The arcade mode features no breaks and levels roll into each other wonderfully, meaning that there’s no stopping the action beyond the occasional MASSIVE boss fight which are always fun. The best way to describe this section of the game is to say that, it plays much like the games that it pays homage to, chasm-jumps, zombies popping out from the scenery and the constant need to move right whilst avoiding getting hit as you javelin the heck out of anything that moves, it’s great, pure arcade fun.
Then there’s the story mode.
The Story mode was how I initially played the game. For a few hours I worked through the quests and felt my interest slowly ebbing away. There are several deal-breaking issues with this mode that mount up to make it feel like a bit of a thrown-in extra. 

The core game play is the same with the exception that there are now people offering side-quests and a lot more focus on the story side, thin as it is. The levels are also extended but this results in a lot of re-used assets. For example, I entered the first dungeon and saw four rotting corpses nailed up on the wall, which was quite a striking image, but after making my way through an identical, labyrinthine crypt with foreground blocking the enemies and such busy artwork that it sometimes obscured enemies and their attacks (oddly, not an issue in the more streamlined arcade mode) I was just tired of seeing the same things and wanted to get out. Obviously, the repeated backgrounds make progress awkward as there’s no in-game map so it’s easy to lose track of where you are. 
Other issues in this mode lie in the side quests, most of which come from identical young girls in green dresses saying, ‘If you defeat a certain boss, I’ll give you something’. Of course, they don’t specify which boss and there’s also no quest log which means that after defeating each boss you have to re-talk to all of the children to gain your prize. The main problem for me though, was the backtracking. There was one point where I rescued a knight from some witches and was transported back to the castle (where the game begins, three levels / biomes away), he briefly explained what he needed me to acquire for him and I was left to make my way back to where I had rescued him, as I now had access to the next section of the map. The nearest portal, however was still a full level away from where I needed to be and so I essentially had to repeat large parts of the map and to be blunt, it just felt like artificial extension. 
This was the moment I decided to try out the arcade mode, loved it and vowed to never return to the story mode. No maps, no quest logs, constantly re-used characters and assets combined with excessive back-tracking…it was all too much.
Summary

Battle Princess Madelyn is a great arcade platformer and the arcade mode completely captures the spirit of the Ghouls N Ghosts franchise. 
Great music, chunky visuals and a sense of humour running throughout its increasingly difficult and yet loveable levels. 
The arcade mode gets a thumbs-up from me but the story mode really isn’t something I’d recommend. If there was an online points / speed run leader board I can imagine it would be healthy with people trying to beat their scores as itis such an addictive package.
I will warn you though….the knockback from enemy hits into pits and deep water during the more testing platforming sections may give you grey hairs and cost you a few controllers, but it’s all worth it in the end.
Right, I’m off to avenge my dog.

❄️ RATING: ICE COOL ❄️
Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Recommended with reservations, one to consider if you are a fan of the genre)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

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