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.
One oft-mentioned thing that sets Battle Princess Madelyn apart from other games of its type is the story behind its creation: artist/creator Chris Obritsch created to game for real-life daughter Madelyn, who was being bullied in school, and based it on the game she loved to watch him play the most: Ghosts 'n Goblins. What's more, Obritsch incorporated some of his daughter's designs and ideas into the game itself.
Battle Princess Madelyn makes use of the following tropes:
- Action Pet: Fritzy's newfound ghost powers allow him to help Madelyn fight enemies.
- Action Girl: Madelyn starts out as a knight-in-training, but becomes more powerful as the game progresses.
- Anticlimax Boss: The Baron in Germany. Also doubles as The Unfought, as he is killed by an NPC before you can even fight him.
- 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.
- 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.
- Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: Fighting the bosses is considerably less frustrating than getting to them.
- 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 and 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.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: While the game's obviously a fantasy, some of its plot points were inspired by real-life events. The game's protagonist was inspired by creator Chris Obritsch's daughter Madelyn, who was being bullied at school. Obritsch created the game to show Madelyn that she really could do the great things her bullies said she couldn't. Likewise, the ghost-dog Fritzy is based on Madelyn's real-life pet, who had to be put down at some point before the game's development.
- Retraux: Despite its 2018 provenance, Battle Princess Madelyn is intended to look and feel like an early-90s Capcom arcade game.
- Shout-Out: The opening sequence of Madelyn being told a story by her Grandfather, as well as playing a video game that is clearly Minecraft with the Serial Numbers Filed Off, is based on the Framing Device of The Princess Bride.
- 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.
- The Unfought: The Baron of Germany.
- 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.