A Preview Of Battle Princess Madelyn
by: John Bower and Roger Barr
If there's one thing I know about Rog, it's that nothing grabs his attention quite like Ghosts 'n Goblins / Ghouls 'n Ghosts news. So when word got out about Battle Princess Madelyn, a love letter to the series, we just had to find out more.
Though still very distant on the horizon, the team behind it has released a pre-alpha build of the game to pump up interest, and to differentiate themselves from so many other Kickstarter titles by showing that they actually are capable of making more than just promises to ship you an art book in two years' time.
Here's a brief breakdown of what to expect:
Before you even start, you get to hear that sweet, sweet arcade-sounding music. Unless that's not your thing, in which case you can switch over to the game's orchestral soundtrack. The Arcade music is more akin to what you'd hear being pumped out of an arcade cabinet a la Ghosts 'n Goblins, while the Orchestral music is a more modern-sounding in the spirit of the newer games in that same series. They've actually brought in two different composers to work out both soundtracks, so the result is more than just a straight swap of the musical instruments for each song.
There's nothing inherently wrong with the ol' "my girlfriend was kidnapped by the devil" storyline, but sometimes you want a little more exposition in between wandering from one nightmarish monster world to another. BPM features some short cutscenes, if only to explain who all these non-princess types are.
The gist of the story so far is that you need to track down a lost map that will lead you to that thing you'll need to solve everything. The joke's on Madelyn, though: all she needs to do is get all the way to the right and she's set!
The traditional shooting mechanics of the GnG series are present, including the double-jump from the later games. What's different is that you can control your jumps in the air rather than having to fully commit to each and every jump, only to watch helplessly as you sail through the air and smash into something deadly. Special armors exist as well, giving a boost to your weapons, and additional hits before you're reduced to your frumpy maiden's dress.
Rather than limited lives, you are resurrected on the spot using orbs gathered from slain enemies. At present, this seems to be the only problematic part of the game as I was never more than a few seconds without the full complement of orbs. It is only a pre-alpha build, though, and the devs have said that the finished game will include multiple modes of difficulty to suit both casual fans and die-hard enthusiasts.
In contrast to the more arcade-style levels that compromised most of the GnG series, BPM's level design features more variance in terms of both verticality and hidden secrets. In case you aren't sick of GnG being mentioned, it's most similar to Ultimate Ghosts 'n Goblins on the PSP in that there's a path that will take you from the beginning of the level to the end, but in between are numerous additional opportunities to find useful items and secrets.
And what would a game like this be without a giant boss? You want to tell me a journey through miles of crypt tunnels isn't going to end with fighting a huge skeleton?
A likely story.
At any point in a level, you can opt to bail and return to the world map. From there you can revisit previous levels to find more hidden items and collectibles, or visit the town to check for quests. So far these have just been penetrating deep into the hidden levels to find someone or something, and in exchange you get another collectible item.
The only thing I found objectionable about the whole experience was the decision to give Madelyn a voice. The cutscenes themselves aren't voiced, but you are treated to a few lines when selecting a level or dying. Usually something to the effect of "Let's kick some bad guy butt," or "You haven't seen the last of meee!" depending on the situation. Regardless of the situation, though, the entire thing winds up seeming very corny because of it. I get that they aren't going for quite the same horror vibe as GnG, but having a handful of cheesy one-liners thrown in is a bit too far in the other direction. Here's hoping they include an option to mute those voices.
It's still early on for the project (VERY early on), but this pre-alpha build shows a lot of promise. The basic gameplay won't leave GnG fans disappointed, and the game scores major points for its combination of sprite art and lighting effects. The project appears to be well on its way, and as of this posting, the Kickstarter has reached its goal.
Or hey, if you're curious, but you'd like to see if any of what you just read was at all accurate, why not head on over to the Kickstarter page and follow the links to download the pre-alpha build yourself? Dolls, armor, and all the lances you can hurl!
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