After a fairly successful Kickstarter campaign, Battle Princess Madelyn finally finds its way to Steam. It brings with it some fun, old-school platforming action, tons of different enemies to face, and some pretty cool boss fights. However, it also brings with it some design issues, some more serious than others.
As for gameplay, if you have ever played a classic side-scrolling platformer like Ghosts ‘n Goblins, that is pretty much what Battle Princess Madelyn goes for. It is simple, it is difficult, but it is also pretty fun. The game does more than just rehash this formula though, it also makes a number of improvements to it. Among these are the much more forgiving controls, improved platforming complexity, and the massive increase in enemy diversity. In fact, it seemed that everywhere I went in the game brought about new enemies to face, so there is definitely enough variety to keep players going, even if the attack patterns are pretty simple. That is not to say that they are easy to beat though, as there are several that had stupid-simple attacks that gave me more trouble than some of the game’s bosses, most notably those pesky skeleton archers.
On the topic of bosses though, the game maintains a similar level of simplicity when it comes to their attack patterns, but does so without sacrificing too much difficulty. There are definitely some that are easier to beat than others, but I usually died at least a couple times in each fight. Fortunately, the game respawns players outside of the boss arena, so I had no issue getting through the bosses the game threw at me.
However, the game does still have a few negatives that bring down the experience. The first of which is the general lack of direction. The game gives little info on what the player should actually be doing at any given moment, so I ended up having to backtrack several times in order to figure out what to do. In fact, this is what made up the majority of my time with the game: aimless wandering about. Granted, this is something that was quite common with old-school games like this, but that does not excuse the problem.
On top of that, the same is done with some of the game’s mechanics, leaving them up to the player to figure out. This can be cool when done right, but the mechanic I had trouble with was so vague that I only found out about it through a Steam discussion thread. Had I known this mechanic existed, I could have saved myself from the hour or so of backtracking I did trying to see if I missed anything.
There are a couple other design issues with the game that should also be mentioned, the first of which is the horrendous choice of font. Given that this game runs at a really low internal resolution, all of its assets are blown up to fit the screen, font included. However, due to the choice of font, the text becomes almost unreadable at such a resolution — it is a pretty bad accessibility problem.
The other design issue I found is a much more serious one, one tied to the game’s main menu. When I was booting up the game, I accidentally hit new game instead of continue. Instead of giving me the choice of putting this save in another save slot or giving me any sort of confirmation popup, the game instead started a new game and immediately overwrote my previous save, losing me the hours of progress I had made. Granted, it was my fault for fat-fingering on the main menu, but there should at least be some form of confirmation if the continue and new game buttons are going to be right next to each other.
Outside of those issues though, I did have fun with the game, enough so for a positive recommendation. The old-school platforming was done well, the enemies are varied and nicely designed, and the bosses are pretty cool too. The general lack of direction was a bit annoying, but not something that completely held back the experience. The other two design issues do need to be remedied though, with one limiting accessibility and the other posing a possible risk of save game loss.
You can buy Battle Princess Madelyn on Steam here.
I was provided a review copy of this game. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.