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Battle princess Madelyn is a retro inspired action platformer inspired by one of the developers daughters as well as being written by a professional childrens author.  The game itself comes in two game modes and whilst the regular gamer might believe story mode is the preliminary game mode it seems arcade mode is actually something quite different and the designed primary mode.  Where arcade mode comes across 10 worlds of 5 levels each (according to the steam page but seems 2 and a boss), where weapon drops come from the sacks of enemies permanently replacing your main weapon until you find another, whereas the story mode is very different with actually shorter and different world levels all tied together with an exploration factor and unlocks involved which I played through believing this to be the primary mode and arcade simply being a level select of these and not a completely different entity which plays entirely differently.

There has been a huge patch to the game which has made some significant changes to the story mode through a number of issues experienced throughout by players, and at the time of print of this review there are some other issues I will bring up which would really change the quality of life of the game mode as well as one significant bug with fritzy which I will bring up with the aim of these being fixed in a further update and perhaps never being experienced by yourselves should you decide to go ahead and purchase the game.

Gameplay

Levels in the game involve a variety of enemies each with their own unique attack and movement mechanics spawning at various points in waves whilst you take them down with the arsenal of weapons you’ve collected attempting to traverse through the platforming challenges the area’s offer trying to find the boss keys and possibly finding secrets and additional powers along the way.

In story mode you have to complete side quests or defeat certain bosses in order to obtain additional weapons and powers like a double jump and whilst the area’s have been changed to be more linear initially and avoid a large number of very difficult challenges at the start there are a few additional balance changes which could be implemented to make progression feel a bit more natural.  For example you find a quest to obtain a hammer for the blacksmith so you can upgrade your weapon and armour however by the time you finally collect this half way through the game you can fully upgrade everything, whereas if you were offered this opportunity earlier in the game and naturally slowly level things up the quality of life and pace of the game would feel far more appropriate, and whilst you have the opportunity to press a button in the menu to unlock everything at the beginning this is cheating and defeats the purpose of the mode, in which case again it feels like arcade mode is the way the game should have perhaps been played and released.

Another major bug in the story mode is that your companion fritzy lacks his powers until you obtain the pogo ability which is if played linearly 80% through the game, and if not at least over 50% of the game and it feels like this should have been unlocked from the very beginning and not tied to the pogo ability (which also grants you a wand weapon and no explanation that you must use down attacks on enemies to bounce of their heads at time of review and I had to ask the developers about how to use the ability thinking it was bugged and I hadn’t been provided the ability)

Some other gameplay bugs have been fixed and as stated earlier the developers do care and are trying to make the story mode as tight as it should be, and whilst they’ve made the earlier levels more approachable they also fixed actual bugs from sidequests which had prevented you from being able to even fight certain bosses.  This shows that the developers are addressing issues with the game mode, so perhaps expect in the future that fritzy’s powers might actually work from the beginning of the game as expected, and if you could unlock some armour levels sooner in the game incrementally it would make quality of life so much better, so whislt there are bugs at the time of review I do expect these to be resolved.

Even with these bugs the game is very playable and enjoyable, in story mode you have a compressed taste of the levels with the challenge of having to find all of the unlocks and keys in order to fight the bosses.  Boss fights are well thought out holding onto that retro feel with learnable boss patterns and a variety of mechanics involved in taking down the bosses as you progress so they all have their own ways of being defeated rather than just dodge and attack where possible often subtleties are involved to get the best patterns to avoid getting defeated in order to progress.

The story mode has an interesting way of subverting expectations as you expect the game to be coming to an end through the building of stitchbot actually you unlock the second half of the game and additional area’s to explore previously inaccessible offering a pleasant surprise with additional gameplay.  (Which also allows you to finally complete some of the earlier side quests previously impossible to achieve should you desire a 100% completion rate)  Collectible stuffed toys are provided to you as you complete the game, which I initially confused for some form of monsterpedia type thing, and whilst the game begins with some of your collection already filled out (which if you read descriptions suggests you’ve already encountered them) I feel it would have been better to collect everything from an empty state to avoid confusion, and this doesn’t even have to be through side quests it could have been achieved through defeating the first of these enemy types or additional drops from existing quests/chests/bosses.

Overall Impressions

At the end of the day for the price you’re paying you’re getting a pretty fun action platformer for the price, and while the arcade mode is the definitive version with all of the polish you would expect from the game they are making efforts to polish the story mode to ensure that there aren’t major bugs and gameplay issues and giving it a more progressive arc into the gameplay showing that they do care about the title and want it to be the best that it can be. The game would have been good enough value with the arcade mode alone, and the fact that you have additional modes as well as the story mode there is plenty of gameplay to be experienced, and depending on whether you want to battle through waves of enemies and challenging platformers or explore to complete quests in order to get to the bosses there’s a game mode for you. The bosses also offer plenty of variety as opposed to simply learning their patterns some often involve some extra aspect in order to be defeated adding a greater challenge and more interesting factors to the gameplay.

If you’re looking for a good retro inspired action platformer this is the game for you. Check out battle princess Madelyn for yourself on steam now at https://store.steampowered.com/app/603930/Battle_Princess_Madelyn/

Copy kitty is a modern retro action platformer from nuclear strawberry, having spent 7 years in development you can see how much effort has been put into getting this game right at every stage of the game from the sheer weapon variety, through the the many and varied bosses throughout the game.

This game stands out so much that I don’t hesitate to say you must own this game because not only is it a bargain at the price and you’ll get many hours of enjoyment out of it but there are elements that stand out above and beyond any other game in the genre. Many games with projectile weapons tend to be very limited in what they provide, whereas this game has the unique ability of combining many of the basic elements into what seems like hundreds of very different weapons from basic splitting and exploding weapons to super powered swords all of which vary depending on what elements you combine while also having solo weapons that can’t be combined.

The developers seem to have been quite clever getting guest developers in to design the boss battles, this not only helps make sure the boss battles feel very unique and different in style from the rest of the game and other battles, but also ensures you can include some special unique weapons for these battles also. Most developers would tend to have essentially reskinned versions of the same boss throughout with slightly different weaponry and fighting styles but the same repeating evil boss which can add to the identity of an evil you follow throughout the game trying to foil, like bowser or dr robotnik (also known as eggman) and this isn’t missed out entirely in this game either as a repeating miniboss half way through each stage inevitably becomes a greater evil towards the end and holds a following evil that gets more powerful everytime you defeat it, shadowing your copy ability in many ways.

There are two different playable characters and every effort seems to have been made to ensure they both play very differently to ensure much larger replayability when going through the same levels, in relation sonic vs knuckles did have a clever feature where knuckles was able to break through the walls and traverse a very different path through the game eventually leading to different levels and a different ending pioneering branching path’s in the genre this game does stick to the same pathing however because both characters feel very different you might not notice the similarities. Boki essentially is grounded but can gain access to special vehicles at times and has the ability to combine up to three powers together to create very varied and ultra powerful weapons whereas savant only has the ability to combine two powers together and is constrained to shooting them from his coding box. He varies by his ability to fly throughout the level and that his coding box is always separate from him so navigating the level and where your projectiles fire from becomes a bigger challenge throughout the game, also depending on which order you combine the weapons creates a very different outcome.

Another way that savant’s abilities vary is that the way his weaponry combines creates very different projectiles and weapons to what boki would create with the same weaponry, and these differences will make the playthrough feel very different without taking into account the fact that the storyline elements are different when playing through as boki and savant.

Separate to the main quest there is also an “endless” mode where you have to try and defeat 100 waves of enemies which become ever more difficult as you progress with only one life, and includes separate combination bosses to the original game and a hidden secret world unlockable by defeating a specific enemy within this mode. The difficulty of this challenge alone will add many more hours of gameplay to the game and you’ll be wanting to play more so it’s not an unwelcome addition to the game, and if that isn’t enough if you’re feeling up for a true challenge there’s not only harder versions of the main quest but there’s a marathon mode where you can play through the main campaign with only one lifebar and see if you can defeat the entire game without ever leaving it which would be a true challenge considering how many hours of gameplay the game itself has.

A final thought on the art style of the game, where many retro styled games would go down the route of saving graphics going 8 bit ignoring the fact that many retro games actually had very high res cute styles, this game creates a good balance between the high res and low res worlds with enemies having great art styles and very varied natures and looks while the world around can tend to be lower resolution much like the “simulation” world you’re stated to be in, of course it goes beyond this with the inclusion of a glitch world as a nod and homage to old games which would often glitch out and create obscure unintended elements, this game uses it to traverse from the simulation to what may indeed be a different reality in a different dimension which you may or may not be invading and defeating the boss to perhaps free savant from being locked in a simulated prison depending on how you take the storyline. I like that there does seem to be a hidden alternative ending if you give up to the final boss this is a clever feature, and when you’ve traversed the glitch world the nature of the universe seems a lot more realistic, and if you unlock the bonus world the nature of the way the game ends there certainly asks a lot more questions over the nature of the reality of the simulation.

I can’t wait for a sequel to this game, however you may have to wait a long time for this because of how long this took to develop. That being said with more funding and income from the sale of this and the essential ground work already in place a sequel may be able to come far quicker than another 7 year wait but even if it takes so long I’m sure it’ll be worth the wait indeed.

All of these features, with the great variance of gameplay and elements between the worlds and throughout the entire game and for a fantastic price is why this game has earnt an indelacio star, an award that only goes to something that is truly exceptional and goes above and beyond expectations. If you want a very fun and varied action platformer with great gameplay and a fun and cute storyline then this is the game for you and I would suggest everyone should own this.

Get copy kitty for yourself on steam at https://store.steampowered.com/app/349250/Copy_Kitty/