On My Radar – BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!

Standard

Picked up BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! over the weekend. Tried the co-op out with Wyatt. Gameplay is tight AND requires a bit of communication (re: patience). 😛

Looking forward to trying out the single-player.

From Across the Net – “My Frustrating Journey to Find a Perfect Pair of Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons”

Standard

I was finally progressing through Hollow Knight when one of the Nintendo Switch Joy-Con controllers decided to disconnect. I paused the game and fought with the controller, trying desperately to get back to my game. After a few moments, I succeeded in pairing the controller with the system. Success! Only to have the controller disconnect again minutes later.

Matt Kim, with USgamer, wrote about this last week in an article titled “My Frustrating Journey to Find a Perfect Pair of Nintendo Switch Joy-Cons“.

The Nintendo Switch came out in March 2017, and though the console was a huge hit critically and commercially, the launch wasn’t entirely pristine. Key issues have to do with the Joy-Cons disconnecting from the console, and “drifting,” meaning the reticle would move further away from the center, even if the thumb stick wasn’t being moved.

These two problems are largely separate from one another, but there are several articles from March 2017 from news outlets, YouTube channels, and tech forums about the left Joy-Con disconnecting issue, and how to fix it. Various technical breakdowns showed that the reason the left Joy-Con disconnected so often was because of the way the antenna was designed in the first place.

You can read more here

I am upset to find out that this is still a widespread issue. Nintendo and quality hardware go hand-n-hand in my mind. Nintendo, you need to make this right. I shouldn’t have to worry about controllers not working after owning a console for a year.

On My Radar – FAR: Lone Sails

Standard

FAR: Lone Sails reminds me of a mix of The Final Station (keep moving forward) and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime (little guys running a ship). Looks like a perfect game to chill with. Might be an even better Nintendo Switch versus PS4 title?

Battle Princess Madelyn

Standard

Battle Princess Madelyn, by Casual Bit Games, was born out of a request a daughter gave to her father. Creative Director Christopher Obritsch’s daughter, Madelyn, wanted to be in Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. She wanted to take the fight to “Green Head”, the boss of the game’s first stage. Christopher knew that he couldn’t put Madelyn into Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, but he could make his own game.

“But girls can’t be knights, Daddy. Only boys…”

“Pshh… What color do you want your armor to be?”

Pink.

The above story is a fantastic piece of marketing. So much so, that I thought it would be fun to review Battle Princess Madelyn with my son, Wyatt (age 9).

As the game starts, Madelyn’s Grandpa reads to her a story about Princess Madelyn. Princess Madelyn’s dog, Fritzy, dies. Wyatt was sad. But ghost form Fritzy soon made everything okay.

We continued on through game, beat our first boss, and came to what felt like the second stage. This is where Battle Princess Madelyn lost me. Wyatt and I, frustrated by not being able to figure out where to go next, quit.

“Dad, we can’t say anything mean.”

All About Context

A few days later, I was reminded that Battle Princess Madelyn is inspired by Ghouls ‘n Ghosts. Thankfully, I have the SNES Classic, which has a copy of Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts on it. So I did some gameplay research.

The first thing I noticed is that Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts offers the player a sense of place before the level starts. Battle Princess Madelyn should have gobbled this smart design choice up. There is something about knowing where you are and where you are going.

The second thing I noticed is that Super Ghouls ‘n Ghosts is a mean old game where two hits of damage equals death. Battle Princess Madelyn builds upon the Ghouls ‘n Ghosts formula and adds grace to the death mechanic. This grace comes in the form of re-spawning the player, after they have been hit twice and died, right back where they were. With the added bonus of resurrection lightning shocking everyone around the player. I love how this death mechanic makes Battle Princess Madelyn more approachable for all players.

Did I mention that the main gameplay mechanic of spear throwing feels really, really, good? It does. Weapons are another place where I wish Battle Princess Madelyn had borrowed more from it’s inspiration. Within moments of the first stage of Ghouls ‘n Ghosts, the player is throwing knives in addition to spears. Makes the overall game feel a little more like a shoot-em-up with constant new and awesome power-ups.

Battle Princess Madelyn feels incomplete. The story mode doesn’t work well as the level design is easy to get lost in and requires leaps of faith (jumping off a cliff, not being able to see below you) to make any progress– don’t tell me that is exploration–. The graphics and sound design, meanwhile, are beautiful. The arcade mode also feels great and very much like Ghouls ‘n Ghosts (with death grace!). But in the end, I’m still not sure:

  • What collectible money does.
  • How one upgrades weapons, armor, etc.
  • If it is even possible to extend the life bar.

My patience with Battle Princess Madelyn’s story mode exploration killed the game for me. Trying to merge the Ghouls ‘n Ghosts formula with a Metroidvania framework doesn’t pan off here. If Casual Bit Games had focused solely on the arcade mode, I think they’d have a real winner on their hands.

3/5 – Like Stitch from Disney’s Lilo & Stitch, Battle Princess Madelyn made me feel lost.

Title: Battle Princess Madelyn
Developer: Casual Bit Games
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch
Reviews on: Nintendo Switch
MSRP: $19.99