Battle Princess Madelyn

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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

Surf Report – 10/9/10

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Welcome to the Sunday edition of the Surf Report.

.: God :

Our motto here at JBG is, “because there is more to life than just games”. The individual sections of God and Life exist in an effort to explore the world beyond the flickering screen. In addition to venturing into topics outside of video gaming, such as faith and life, we have also pushed an overall agenda of moderation. Video games, as with any other hobby, are meant to be consumed in a healthy manner. I have personally witnessed, both in my life and others, the impact of excessive gaming (late nights, lost jobs, and loss of friends). The results of embracing gaming as a lifestyle are certainly destructive when taken beyond normal levels.

Recently, I got thinking about how JBG’s mission extends just beyond the gospel of moderation. I quickly came to the conclusion that we are also here to preach against distractions. For me, gaming can be a distraction; for others it can be something as simple as trolling Facebook. All the noise and media we intake on a daily basis can lead us to neglecting the spiritual sides of ourselves. Basically, distractions can cause us not to hear God’s voice –I am not saying that He speaks audibly, but I am also not saying that He can’t!-.

The question I want to ask you, on this wonderful Sunday, is this: What is distracting you? If it is video games, why not take some time away from them; if it is Facebook, why not take an extended vacation. A thought to ponder on.

.: Life :

What have you been reading lately?

Over the summer I happened to purchase a Nook for my birthday. This delving into the land of e-books has caused me enjoy all sorts of fantasy books. Everything from the first book in Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series to more recently, First King of Shannara by Terry Brooks. At first, I found the Shannara book to be wordy and the story cliche. As I have progressed, however, I have been suddenly surprised by where the story is taking me. Perhaps Brooks isn’t a Tolkien hack after all.

Syp, over @ BioBreak, posted last week on what books he is reading. I don’t know about you, but I love hearing about new books! Check it out.

.: Gaming :

When I have had time for gaming, I have been diving into The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Absolutely amazing! If I hadn’t had my nose buried in the 90’s, with a SEGA Genesis, I probably would have discovered this gem! So far, I have managed to obtain all of the pendants and the Master Sword. Until next time.

That’s it for this weeks Surf Report. Make sure to comment below and have a good week!

The Metroid Mindset

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The trees have finally become green once again, Spring has finally arrived.

The weather in East Texas continues to baffle this Southern California native. In January of this year, we experienced tornadoes. February and March brought along colder weather with snow (at least twice). For some, this may not seem too out of the ordinary. For someone used to 70 degree winters though, tornadoes and snow just don’t make a whole lot of sense. The longer I live here – going on 5 years – the more and more I miss the weather of my youth and the proximity to the coast.

The one game to rule them all...

The other night, I dove into Super Metroid on the Wii (Virtual Console) for the first time in awhile. I had bought the game over a year ago — on a whim — and had quickly decided that it was not what I wanted to play at the time. I don’t know about you, but I have to be in a specific mood and mindset to play through a Metroid game. The tension, loneliness, and endless expanse of corridors have to come at a time when I am seeking a little adventure and exploration. Otherwise, I’d much rather play something that is a little less tense.

My first Metroid game was Metroid Fusion on the Game Boy Advance (GBA). Well that is not true, as a kid I played the original Metroid on the NES. I remember at the time thinking the game was slow and boring — still true! –. For some reason I couldn’t wrap my little head around the game. Perhaps the game design not being as straight forward as a Mario game had something to do with it, who knows. Metroid Fusion though marked my entry into the series. Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid Prime followed soon after.

  • Metroid Fusion (GBA) – First Metroid game I ever played and completed.
  • Metroid: Zero Mission (GBA) – My second experience with the world of Samus Aran.
  • Metroid Prime (GameCube) – First 3D Metroid game. The game did a great job capturing the feel of the older 2D games. For me though, Metroid is meant to be played in 2D and on a handheld.

For years I have read of how Super Metroid is the pinnacle of the Metroid series. Slowly, I am beginning to see why.

Love, dislike, or hate the Metroid series? Tell me about it below.