Capcom's Ghouls 'n Ghosts series is held in high esteem by many a retro gamer, yet the franchise is currently dormant and we're unlikely to see a sequel any time soon. However, we may be getting the next best thing in the form of Battle Princess Madelyn, a spiritual successor created by Causal Bit Games and currently doing the rounds on Kickstarter. Keen to know more about the game and its upcoming Switch and Wii U ports, we spoke to Causal Bits' Chris Obristch to find out more.
Nintendo Life: Can you tell us a little about your studio and your previous games?
Chris Obristch: Causal Bit Games is Canada-based. Lina and myself (as well as Madelyn and Sofia of course!) are located in Nova Scotia and Daven is out in Ontario. Daven Bigelow and I have been working together remotely for roughly five years now. We started our company to make our first game together, Insanity's Blade. I myself have worked on several published games outside of CBG.
How did you come up with the idea for Battle Princess Madelyn?
It's mostly my daughter Maddi's fault! She wanted to be in Ghouls 'N Ghosts, so she got it! Though we find those games to be a bit on the short side and lacking in story we knew they could be extended into full console-quality games. After I had initially started the prototype, I began tinkering around with a few story ideas with Maddi's help. She picks the locations and the levels for the most part! Often her input boils down to "I want to fight a giant zombie in a haunted house" kind of thing most times. Other times she'll give me a full on battle plan for a boss, which is incredible for a little kid! Then again - she sees me playing these games all the time and often plays them herself now. I guess having a game developer/designer for a dad has her picking up on what I do. But at this point I literally have a stack of art and level ideas she's drawn to go through and convert into in-game assets.
You've been very open about the Ghosts 'n Goblins influence with Battle Princess Madelyn. What makes that series so appealing to you as a player?
The atmosphere, the goofiness. It's hard as nails, whilst not taking itself too seriously. I think I was about ten years old when that game hit the arcade. Both that and Ghouls 'n Ghosts are still in my top ten games of all time! Though, aside of the NES version, I've never really found the game that hard, to be honest.
How would you say that Battle Princess Madelyn improves on the core template laid down by Ghosts 'n Goblins, and its many sequels?
It's far more than a regular GnG style game. It's really only based on it control wise. Fritzy, Maddi's ghostly pet, aids you in puzzle solving with his unique abilities that are unlocked and switched between in real-time. That kind of puzzle solving is something that just isn't in GNG. One level, with its three main stages and up to 2 hidden stages, has as much gameplay in it as an entire GnG game would. There's a huge story tied into the game, armour that allows you to traverse specific parts of stages, and so on. The controls aren't quite the same either actually; you have a lot more control over Maddi than you would over Arthur. There will also be other sidekicks accompanying Maddi. The toy room is another aspect that expands upon exploration aspects in the game. It's used for collecting the miniatures of the different characters and beasts Maddi will meet in the game. The overworld map also allows you to replay stages, go to towns and get side-quests - and on that note yes, there are side-quests!
What aspect of Battle Princess Madelyn are you most proud of?
The fact that Maddi is helping so much on a game made for her - I'm proud of that, and of her the most! I'm proud of her for inspiring her Daddy as well! I've never had a drive like this to work on anything ever before! Our entire team is so inspired by her and the story behind the game that everyone is throwing their hearts into the work. It's just a wonderful team making Maddi's ideas come to life together!
What does you daughter make of the game, given that she's the main source of inspiration?
She loves it! She's doing exactly what she wants to do - fighting monsters in a video game. She absolutely loves drawing up monsters and level ideas for the game. I think at this point she's way ahead of me!
What's it been like working on the Switch, and with Nintendo itself?
We can't comment on this just yet, but we're excited by the hardware and the possibilities. But we'll say more when something ready to share with the public!
Will Battle Princess Madelyn make use of any of the console's key features, such as HD Rumble and same-screen multiplayer with two Joy-Cons, or is it going to be the same version across all formats?
There is no multiplayer planned for this game, we had learned from our past title Insanity's Blade that it dramatically alters the game from the original vision. We will be doing HD Rumble, but essentially it'll be the same version across all formats.
Could you see yourself making a game exclusively for the Switch which made use of its unique features?
We don't have any ideas that would be exclusive to the Switch at the moment, but who knows what the future holds! As an owner of a Switch, I'm definitely interested in pursuing the possibilities after we get a few more game ideas off our back-burner. That doesn't mean we aren't open to Switch-specific features in our future games too, of course!
Your crowdfunding campaign has met with an overwhelmingly positive response and has hit its targets incredibly quickly. What's the feedback been like from backers so far?
The feedback has been generally amazing! We have received a lot of positive mail about the game's back story and how we are handling the story in the game itself. What we're really glad to see is all the backers playing the Pre-Alpha and getting even more excited! We ultimately wanted to make an amazing game, both for Maddi and all our backers, and so far it seems we are delivering!
Last time we spoke to you it was about Insanity's Blade, which was due to be released on the Wii U. What happened with that?
Although we never met the Wii U stretch goal, we still tried to do a Wii U port after the Kickstarter. Initially we had the game completed in the Construct 2 game engine - which, based on the advertising when we bought it, was supposed to export to the Wii U with HTML5 and WebGL. However, when we got the dev kit it ran at about 10fps and bugged out terribly. There was nothing we could do about it, as we had no control over the engine. We had a dev under contract to do a Unity port but that didn't pan out well so we had to cancel the contract. It's important to note though that it was not the Wii U that was the issue here though, and thanks to the flexibility of the Unity engine we are looking forward to Battle Princess Madelyn's release on Wii U as well as Switch!
Battle Princess Madelyn launches on Switch, Wii U, PS4, Xbox One and PC early next year.