Battle Princess Madelyn is a 2018 action-adventure game by Causal Bit Games for PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. It chronicles the journey of a young knight-in-training who sets out to rescue her family from the forces of evil, and avenge the death of her beloved pet dog, Fritzy. Accompanying Madelyn in her quest is...well, Fritzy, who returns to Madelyn's side as a ghost.
Almost universally described as a spiritual successor to Capcom's classic Ghosts 'n Goblins series of games, Battle Princess Madelyn melds the former's arcade action with a running narrative and a more open, exploration-focused design. However, for those who wish to skip the story and gun for a high score, the game has an Arcade Mode for that purpose. A patch issued in March 2019 added "King Daddy" mode, an ultra-difficult variation of Arcade Mode, and a Boss Rush mode.
In January 2020, Causal Bit Games teamed up with publisher Limited Run Games to release the Nintendo Switch-exclusive Battle Princess Madelyn: Royal Edition, which discards the Story Mode entirely in favor of expanding the Arcade Mode, which creator Chris Obritsch notes is much closer to the game he originally conceived.
Battle Princess Madelyn makes use of the following tropes:
- Action Girl: Madelyn is a young knight-in-training who doesn't hesitate to fight anyone or anything necessary to rescue her family and avenge her dog Fritzy...even though Fritzy tags along for the journey despite being dead.
- Action Pet: Fritzy, the ghost of your beloved pet dog, who uses his newfound ghostly powers to fight enemies at your side.
- Author Avatar: The game's protagonist is based on the creator's real-life daughter, Madelyn.
- Crossover: Don Ramiro of fellow GnG-alike Maldita Castilla shows up to give Madelyn advice and aid when she travels to his native Spain.
- Cutscene Boss: The Baron of Germany boss fight ramps up just like any other...and then, right before the battle begins, he's killed off by another character. To add insult to injury, the responsible party is a child that had gone missing from the village earlier, and you were asked to find. No, you dont get to fight the kid.
- Early Game Hell: Instead of dramatically ramping up the difficulty as you progress, Story Mode actually gets more forgiving as it goes on. This is less a matter of the game getting easier (the difficulty is fairly constant) than upgrading your weapons and armor allows you to take more damage and gives you more powerful and more useful attacks. However, the upgrades are optional if a more difficult game is desired.
- Friendly Ghost: After dying in the opening cutscene, Madelyn's dog Fritzy returns as her ghostly sidekick. He is your constant companion and helps you out by attacking monsters.
- Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: As a general rule, the bosses in Story Mode aren't that hard: their attack patterns aren't that hard to figure out, and some even have safe zones if you need to take a breather. By contrast, the levels tend to relentlessly throw enemies and dangers at you.
- Harder Than Hard: While the regular Arcade Mode is no joke, "King Daddy" mode ups the ante by giving you even less health, fewer lives, and no projectile weapons, save what Fritzy can contribute.
- Lethal Joke Item: The Staff is inarguably the least badass weapon in the game. Even at level 3, it only fires colorful musical notes...that hit like a freight train. The Staff can take down even the toughest regular enemies with only a couple of hits, and only its homing function (that renders its shots somewhat unpredictable) prevents it from completely breaking the game.
- Metroidvania: While Madelyn's Story Mode has a few elements of a Metroidvania, most of the genre's defining characteristics are downplayed or absent. Only two new skills are absolutely required to advance in the game, and the game outright tells you where they are. Backtracking is generally more about getting the 100% Completion Golden Ending than advancing the game itself. Finally, only the game's first half has any pretense of being a single contiguous world — the latter half is made up of individual stages that must be teleported into. The levels themselves do require some exploration, but the wide-open level design is more akin to games like Wizards & Warriors than the sprawling, labyrinthine design of most Metroidvania games.
- Nintendo Hard: While not as punishing as the games that inspired it, Battle Princess Madelyn is hardly a walk in the park. Enemies spawn constantly and with little to no warning, and their placement can result in some rather cheap hits. You can not stop paying attention in this game for even a moment. Even so, the game has a life bar, a lives system, equipment upgrades, and much better jumping mechanics than its primary inspiration, so players are much better equipped to deal with these trials.
- Retraux: Despite its 2018 provenance, Battle Princess Madelyn is intended to look and feel like an early-90s Capcom arcade game.
- The opening sequence of Madelyn being told a story by her Grandfather, as well as playing a video game that is clearly Minecraft by a different, unmentioned name, is based on the Framing Device of The Princess Bride.
- In said opening sequence, Madelyn has a poster of Insanity's Blade which is Causal Bit Games' earlier production (kind of humorous, since it's a very violent and gory game for such a young girl). In-game, the sprite of Madelyn's Grandpa in dialogue boxes looks like an aged, white-haired version of Thurstan, the protagonist of said earlier game.
- Spiritual Successor: Battle Princess Madelyn is very clearly (and openly) inspired by the Ghosts 'n Goblins series of games. Even Madelyn's movements and body language are reminiscent of Sir Arthur's. It's also a successor to the developer's earlier Insanity's Blade, a retro-styled hack 'n slash title that is similarly divided into Story Mode and Arcade Mode with similar controls and progression.
- The Unfought: The Baron of Germany is one of the bosses you're tasked with defeating, but right before the fight begins, he's killed by another character in one of the game's more bizarre moments. So while he does get dealt with, you don't actually get to fight him yourself.
- Updated Re Release: The Nintendo Switch-exclusive Battle Princess Madelyn: Royal Edition, which discards the Story Mode and beefs up the Arcade Mode, which was frequently mentioned as being the superior mode in reviews.
- Vague Age: In the game's opening cinema and promotional material, Madelyn is pretty clearly a kid or young teen. However, her sprite and portrait in the actual game suggest an older teen, if not young adult. This may be a spoof on games from the 80s and early 90s, where consistency in character design wasn't exactly a top priority in a lot of titles.