In my younger years, I found myself enjoying a lot of harder arcade platformers, such as Ghosts and Goblins. I also found myself, more recently playing more Metroidvania style game. While I enjoy these genres, I never really considered a merger between the two. This is where Battle Princess Madelyn comes into play, borrowing elements from Capcom and Konami’s beloved franchises. While it has a cute world and story, it’s unfortunately bogged down by a load of optional quests, collectibles, and semi-expansive worlds, which takes away from the fun combat.
Battle Princess has a relatively simple story, stop an evil wizard with the help of her deceased dog, Fritzy. Though simple, combined with the framing device involving a grandfather, the story ended up being my favorite element of the game. I found this idea charming since there are some moments filled with some childlike wonder, my favorite of these being that Madelyn refers to the head court knight as Grampy. I really related to this, and it brought me back to a simpler time when my mom used to read me bedtime stories.
Gameplay is a mixture of Metroidvania and Ghosts and Goblins. Combat is based on the latter, consisting of quick platforming, throwing a variety of projectiles at enemies, and getting hit twice means death. The other half of this formula consists of a ton of exploration, and secrets similar to a title like Metroid, which requires some backtracking in order to find items to complete objectives. While both of these elements are good when they are in the central focus, they feel overwhelming when you are attempting to search for an item to finish a quest, but defeated by a horde of enemies just to end up at the beginning of a dungeon. While this problem is prominent in story mode, Battle Princess Madelyn really shines in the arcade mode, which is just a Ghosts and Goblins clone, and is the best part about this game.
I found myself impressed by the lovely artwork, from the hand-drawn cutscenes to the wonderful sprites and detailed backgrounds, everything looks like a labor of love. My favorite element of the design has to be the backgrounds, which are beautiful and give each world a unique feel. I enjoyed running through destroyed villages and grassy fields. I found these detailed worlds to be a nice backdrop for the 16-bit sprites, and creates a delightful contrast that’s not seen in many other games.
While I mostly enjoyed Battle Princess Madelyn, with its arcade platformer elements, art style, and story framework. This game is hindered by the main draw of the story mode which is unfortunately ruined by the side quests and exploration. If you’re only interested in playing this game for the arcade mode it is definitely a great game for those trying to get that fix for difficult platformers.