Battle Princess Madelyn (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Gabriel Jones 08.01.2019

Review for Battle Princess Madelyn on Nintendo Switch

Madelyn's parents have been kidnapped by an evil sorcerer! Her dog Fritz tried to stop the evil jerk, but he was immediately swatted away and… Oh, no. The poor pooch has perished. Though losing a loved one is terrible, the time for tears has ended. It's time now for vengeance, served hot and fresh on a steaming spear. Well, okay, yeah, her parents have to be saved, too, but not before evil gets the bloody nose it deserves. Also, Fritz's ghost has risen from the grave, and he can't rest until his loving family is safe. Enter the world of Battle Princess Madelyn and get ready to fight.

From her knightly strut to her ability to fling spears with reckless abandon, Madelyn is the spitting image of Sir Arthur, protagonist of the Ghouls n' Ghosts series. She explores mysterious and dangerous lands such as the Farmlands of Desolation, the Cliffs of Despair, and even the dreaded Seaside Town in Italy. No matter the locale, she must fend off an army of monsters, all while jumping over pits and avoiding traps. The developer of Battle Princess Madelyn clearly has a lot of love for action-platformers, as there are nods to other favourites such as Black Tiger and Maldita Castilla. Where this title sets itself apart is that it features two ways to play: Story mode and Arcade mode.

Before going any further, it's important to establish the basic mechanics, as they are shared between both game modes. Madelyn is more than equipped to handle whatever foul creatures throw at her. She has an endless supply of spears on hand, though she's also liable to come across daggers, magic wands, and a mighty sword. When the need arises, the heroine can also jump and double-jump. Unlike Sir Arthur, she's controllable in mid-air, so accidentally hopping into a spike pit shouldn't happen very often. In keeping with her inspiration, Madelyn starts with a basic suit of armour that allows her to survive one hit.

Fritz is also along for the ride, at least in spirit. The canine apparition helps the Battle Princess by rescuing her from the brink of death. In other words, if Madelyn falls off a cliff or bumps into too many skeletons, the pup will revive her. These instant revives cost spirit energy, which is replenished by destroying monsters. Think of it as different spin on the traditional "extra lives" system. Spirit energy can also be spent on special attacks, but in the interest of preservation, they're not liable to see a lot of use. Now, if Madelyn is defeated and Fritz doesn't have enough spirit energy, then the duo is kicked back to the last checkpoint. Thankfully, these checkpoints tend to be generously placed, so very little progress is lost.

Screenshot for Battle Princess Madelyn on Nintendo Switch

A weapon's power is influenced by its level. In most cases, the higher the level, the better the weapon. At level two, daggers can be thrown in three directions at once, clearing the immediate area of enemies. Normally, the sword only works at melee range, but at level three it's capable of launching waves of fire. Higher level armour is also well worth hunting down. The best suit allows Madelyn to survive four hits, drastically increasing her chances of survival.

With the basics accounted for, it's time now to explore the Story mode. This mode typically takes up the bulk of the player's time, as it features a lot of exploration and side-quests. The world is divided into several areas, many of which have sub-areas like dungeons or caves. Each location is quite large, and the way forward isn't always obvious. A key point to remember is that certain monuments will gift Madelyn an important item if she kneels in front of them. Also, destructible walls are fairly common. If the player is stuck, it's probably because there's a wall they forgot to knock down.

The theme here is definitely action-adventure. Reflexes and knowledge of the enemy certainly helps, but one must also have a mind for light problem solving and fetch quests. NPCs of this world don't really have a lot to say to Madelyn, but they're certainly quick to beg for help. Each area is filled with missing children and lost artefacts that must be recovered. In doing so, Madelyn is likely to acquire essential items such as keys for the boss doors, or cute dolls for her collection. As soon as the opportunity presents itself, players should hunt down the hammer. This item is for the Blacksmith, who can then strengthen the heroine's weapons and armour. The upgrades aren't free, but they'll make Madelyn's quest so much easier.

Screenshot for Battle Princess Madelyn on Nintendo Switch

The boss battles are strictly traditional affairs. Expect to spend most of them figuring out the pattern, which can sometimes involve specific actions, like flipping a switch or attacking while the boss is stunned. It's nothing that seasoned players haven't seen before, but it is respectfully handled. However, the choice of weapon and its level can have a dramatic effect on how quickly the battle ends. In Story mode, Madelyn's currently equipped weapon can be swapped by pressing the left bumper, so experiment a little.

Where Story mode struggles to maintain one's interest and patience is in the level design. Despite the prevalence of signposts that dot the landscape, the various realms that Madelyn explores are still sometimes confusing in their layout. There will be occasions where the player has to revisit areas. Either they overlooked an important item in their last trek, or someone in a late-game area asked them to rescue a kid. Thankfully, an oddly helpful bony finger will point towards quest items and other rare treasures, so keep an eye out for whenever it appears. Some locations are needlessly large, as they feature long stretches of platforms and enemies, but nothing really creative or challenging. The late-game areas tend to feel distressingly empty. They're maze-like and tedious, offering little more than repetitive hallways.


 
Where annoyance turns into aggravation can be attributed squarely to the enemy placement and constant blind jumps. Early on, Archers are established as the de facto standard "annoying enemy". Like those nasty birds in the Ninja Gaiden series, archers are seemingly always placed in locations where the heroine is most vulnerable. If she's jumping across platforms or climbing ladders, she's bound to run into some jerk with a quiver. Where it gets to be obnoxious is that archers have a really high rate of fire. This can hampers one's ability to move forward, unless they find the absolute right spot to attack from. It's hard to explain in writing, but picture spending several seconds trapped on a ladder, simply trying to figure out how to hit the archer, without taking an arrow to the face. Projectiles often fly in an arc, so ducking isn't advisable, either.

What constitutes a blind jump isn't always clear, hence the name. Nevertheless, there's a rhyme or reason behind every leap, and it's in the best interest of the game to facilitate both. This aspect, more than anything else, is one that Battle Princess Madelyn has a lot of trouble with. The screen is oriented in a manner that shows far more of what's above Madelyn than necessary. Dealing with adversaries that attack from the skies isn't a common enough situation to justify this setup. Conversely, there's not enough space to see what's below the heroine. Seeing as how a significant portion of the game consists of jumping and/or falling, not having any idea of what's under one's feet is a serious detriment.

Screenshot for Battle Princess Madelyn on Nintendo Switch

To its credit, there are visual indicators to help players determine if there's ground or instant death below them. Bottomless pits are marked with a foreboding haze of skulls, while statues or other background objects point out the relative safety of terra firma. The problem is that neither feature is used often enough. There will be times where the player isn't sure where to go next. They'll find an unmarked hole or a cliff and drop in, only to discover that they're actually falling into a spike pit. Jumping from floating platform to floating platform is also an unfortunate endeavour. There aren't any visual indicators, and due to how the screen is oriented, platforms scroll off screen with every leap.

Arcade mode is a more focused take on the game. It consists of seven levels that play out in a strictly linear format. There are bag-carrying skeletons drop new weapons and armour power-ups. For the first few levels, this makes for a nice change of pace. The level designs are tighter and more refined, and there's some fairly decent platforming to partake in. Even the blind jumps that plague story mode are less common here. Annoyance starts to creep in towards the end however. First off, power-up dropping skeletons become increasingly rare as one progresses. By the end stages, they're practically non-existent. When stuck with the default attack power bosses can take quite a while to beat.

While there are one or two frustrating sections, arcade mode never really gets difficult. Anyone who has familiarized themselves with story mode will run through this one really quickly. This isn't like the classics where every level is a series of seemingly insurmountable hurdles. If Fritz is ever running low on spirit energy, Madelyn can always "farm" enemies. Oh, and to reiterate, there aren't any game overs. If the worst should happen, Madelyn and Fritz just get kicked back to the beginning of the stage.

Screenshot for Battle Princess Madelyn on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

5/10
Rated 5 out of 10

Average

Battle Princess Madelyn is a difficult game to recommend on a whim. Its design and mechanics calls to mind the classics of yesteryear, but there's a distinct lack of follow-through. The story mode isn't hurting for content, as it features a slew of worlds to explore, bosses to battle, and goodies to collect. Unfortunately, not all of it is arranged in a manner that is appropriately compelling. The arcade mode trims most of the fat, but it lacks the challenge and polish that defined the arcade era. Still, one has to appreciate the effort that went towards appealing to fans of action-adventure and arcade games. If they're willing to look past the issues present in both modes, they might enjoy themselves. It helps that the art direction and music are really charming.

Developer

Casual Bit

Publisher

Casual Bit

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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