Sunday, December 16, 2018

"Battle Princess Madelyn" Review

A true descendant of the 80s, "Battle Princess Madelyn" is drenched in retro charm.

Developer Casual Bit Games go to great lengths to make their effort look just like an arcade game you'd find 30 years ago. The cut scene visuals subtly flicker in the way a CRT monitor would, and characters are big, detailed and expressive.

The framing motif echoes "The Princess Bride," with a book-toting grandfather reading a book to a sick child who would rather be playing video games. The grandfather and girl appear in the story, of a princess-turned-knight who leads the effort to fend off evil that has infiltrated the world of the living.

With the ghost of her slain puppy in tow, Madelyn wears armor and jumps in the manner of Arthur in "Ghosts 'n Goblins" and "Ghouls 'n Ghosts." Just as in those classics, there's more going on than the standard beat-em-up it appears to be.

As creepy monstrosities pop up from behind trees and walls, you slay them, speak to NPCs, track down hidden items and unlock new paths. The light Metroidvania flavor keeps things from growing stale.

The game is beautiful and inventive, with visuals that simulate the look and feel of 8 and 16-bit fare of the era. The throughline of subtle humor mocks conventions of the time, while sticking enough to established customs that it could pass for a genuine creation of the 80s, vacuum sealed until it could be released today.

"Battle Princess Madelyn" is a heartfelt and comedic lark with charm to spare. While not as sadistically frustrating as its forebears, it retains a similar sense of joyful discovery. Its spunky hero is truly one for the ages.
Publisher provided review code.

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