There is no denying that Battle Princess Madelyn takes most of its cues from Ghosts n’ Goblins, the classic arcade platformer. But can Madelyn carve her own path through the underworld?
The Arcade Mode, the first of several modes on offer, gives you a very similar style to the old 80s arcade game, with fast paced action and certain death if you don’t have good reaction skills. It looks the part with some really nicely designed 16-bit style graphics that sit nicely between a retro arcade look and some more modern game designs, especially in terms of the large boss creatures.
Difficulty in those old arcade games was rock solid, but it’s dialled back a bit here despite the old style of 2 lives, one to remove extra armour and the other to kill you, remaining before you’re dumped back to the last checkpoint. The main thing is that it never feels too unfair but remains a quick paced adventure with some fast reactions still needed to complete the game.
The story mode starts with a wonderful hand drawn cut scene, setting the story of you family being taken and you, as Madelyn, being the one to save them. From here, it gives you a branching system which sits somewhere between the arcade style and a metroidvania system of doubling back on yourself. Unfortunately, the lack of direction, similarity of the background environments and reward for your progress doesn’t add up to such a good experience as in the arcade mode. It seems a little bit of a missed opportunity.
That said, this is a solid game with obvious nods to the old Capcom titles and players will still find a lot to like in Arcade mode. There are some lovely graphical touches that stay true to their old-school roots and still manage to innovate and a good soundtrack to back them up, as well as some solid arcade action moments.