Harken the days of old, when we would clamor around arcade machines in sweaty, musky dungeon-esque arcades. Where we lost not only our money, but also, sweat, tears, and sometimes even our food. Recall the moments mashing buttons, playing games like street fighter, ninja turtles, and many, many more. Found those memories? That’s the exact same feeling that causal games tried to recreate with their rendition of Battle Princess Madelyn. They tried to capture that magical feeling of back when arcades were “tha bomb”, but did they really succeed in their attempt? Or was the plug pulled out of their machine, a bit to soon? Let’s find out, shall we?
What is Good?
- Arcade feeling: If there is one thing that Causal games got right, it’s the fact that they got the arcade feeling down to the smallest detail. You even get the option to tweak the settings to give you that old scan line look. You know, the same one those old CRT monitors had in the arcade machines? The graphics, just oozes that classic 90s feeling. Every level that you traverse, every boss that you’ll encounter just screams classic arcade, and that brings out a bit of that nostalgic feeling. Which I did quite enjoy back in the day.
- Gameplay: Dear god, the game wants to take you to places, and fast. When I was playing the game, I couldn’t shake the feeling that you were in a hurry. For instance, the first level was over in a jiffy, throwing you instantly into the next level which just didn’t seem to click. There was no reason to the rhyme, no salt to the pepper, no fuel to the fire… I think you get my drift, the game just feels like it’s all over the place. Which in some cases can be fine, there are countless of games out there that throw you constant curve balls. But those games do it well, this one just feels rushed.
- Quality Control: I knew I was in for a rough ride when on the very first boot screen that the game gave me, you know, the one with the regular health warnings and what not? The word Epilepsy was written as Eplilepsy. So I knew already that there wasn’t much of quality control done before launch. And it showed in the game’s text along the way. Fonts in different sizes, madelyn’s image was a nice beautiful rendition of herself, while other characters had just their sprite pasted into the text fields. Which felt kind of lazy. There were other solutions to this, for instance text bubbles, just the text with the names but no image…
- Restore point: This game operates with something that I’d like to call restore points. This means if you’d die, you’ll be teleported to the last remembered point where you had set foot on the ground, out of harms way. Which shouldn’t be a problem, if only it didn’t work on a god damn timer! Countless of times when I was doing the jumping platforms, I had touched multiple platforms in short succession because of the bats or archers or snakes making it hard to stick in one spot for to long. Until I died and I noticed I was put back way further than it should have been. In order for it to “remember”, I had to stay put for 2-3 seconds and then continue, otherwise, tough cookies! Back you go, half a god damn level!
What is Bad?
- A.I. : This enemy AI detection system is one of the worst I have encountered as of yet this year. There are certain enemies that can smell you from a mile away. For instance, the 2nd level exists mostly out of jumping platforms. The kind of which you have to climb on, or off to get to the next platform. Which isn’t to bad, if not for those archers. Why? They start shooting, even if you aren’t in their range. And you may think, oh come now that’s not to bad now is it? Oh trust me, it is. Why? I’ll explain in my controls part. When talking about friendly AI, it was pretty buggy as well. The first level for example. You get someone that escorts you. If only he didn’t get stuck most of the time. Which bothered me quite a bit as I had to backtrack so he could jump with me…
- Controls: But by far, what annoyed me the most about the game? Were its controls! You all know tank controls, up down left right, and you can only shoot in those directions. Which if fine. In those games the enemies have tank controls as well… Not here though, not at all. You know those archers for instance? On multiple occasions those bastards fired off a shot diagonally right at me when I was climbing, or when I was just a few inches below him. Now you may think, but what is a hit? Its just a life point, right… right? WRONG. A hit in this game spells death. Why? One hit, knocks you off of whatever you are holding and pushes you back. And don’t think you have control if you got hit, oh no, no no. You fall, and you’ll fall deep. Before you get any semblance of control back. But by that time, you’ll have either lost half a level and have to do all the climbing all over again. Or you’ll have fallen in a pit of death, restarting the entire session over again.
Battle Princess Madelyn [Score: 45/100] Though I can feel what Causal games tried to create with this game, it fell short on every aspect. I didn’t get any joy out of it, only annoyance and rage. Though the game would be perfect for rage playthroughs, I couldn’t bring up the courage to continue playing the game. It felt more like a beta then a regular full release game but come on… This could have been amazing if they put more effort into it. If you do want to try it out, wait for it to be on sale, is what my recommendation would be.