By Fabrice Stellaire / March 17th, 2017
The Ghosts ‘n Goblins series left a strong impression on people who discovered video games back in the 80s. This platforming series provided a very high challenge and graphics and art which were awesome for their time. Since then, there have been many attempts to renew the success of this game, but very few were able to reach the same level of quality- except for titles like Maldita Castilla. With Battle Princess Madelyn, Causal Bit Games tries to explore the same kind of gameplay and universe, but do they succeed?
The story starts in media res, while Madelyn and her grandfather mourn the dead and run away from an evil sorcerer. They quickly find out they have to look for a map hidden inside a crypt, which will help them to locate the evil sorcerer who destroyed their country. Fritzy, Madelyn’s dead dog, suddenly revives as a ghost and decides to help Madelyn. He will act as a faithful ally who can shoot enemies. What really struck me when the game began was the music, which is typical of 8-bit games I played back in the 80’s on consoles and microcomputers. I rather enjoyed this nostalgic trip to the past. The graphics pay a nice tribute to the Ghost ‘n Goblins universe: those familiar with the game will quickly recognize elements like blue ravens, undead foes and man-eating trees. Madelyn can be hit two times before dying, and then automatically resurrects. I cannot say clearly if she has infinite lives or if this is just a feature of the pre-alpha version, but I died a lot of times and did not get a Game Over screen.
The difficulty of the game is overall more accessible than its inspiration and I will not complain about it, given the amount of unfair deaths Ghosts ‘n Goblins could provide. Enemies do respawn, but with experience I feel it is possible to learn their patterns and anticipate their actions. While exploring the levels available in this version, I happened to discover strange ghost girls hidden in secret passages that I could not interact with. I suspect it will later be possible to talk to them or help them, and that it may affect the story of the game. After reaching the end of the graveyard level, I entered the crypt where more challenging enemies awaited, like armored skeletons. The boss of the area, a giant skeleton, was a bit hard at the beginning, but I finally learned to anticipate his moves without getting hit, and after striking him with several dozen spears, he finally died.
Those first levels left me optimistic and enthusiastic, though I sometimes had the feeling the level design lacked some creativity. But the music and the graphics are very good and will definitely please nostalgic gamers. One small issue can be easily fixed and that is the visibility of dialogue, as text can be hard to read depending on the area where you are. There is a lot of content I haven’t been able to see in this pre-alpha version (for example, the game mentions the possibility of helping villagers). But what I have seen so far is very good. Causal Bit Games is currently raising funds for Battle Princess Madelyn on Kickstarter, and you can visit their page here.
Battle Princess MadelynCausal Bit GamesEarly AccessImpressionsoprainfallpre-alphaSteam