The Stage is Set For Princess Peach in ‘Princess Peach: Showtime!’

The action-adventure video game “Princess Peach: Showtime!” is the titular character’s first game that doesn’t focus on gender stereotypes

Sorry Mario, your princess is in another video game — but she could still use some help.

“Princess Peach: Showtime!” is an action-adventure style Nintendo Switch game starring the Mushroom Kingdom’s royal leader. Princess Princess hasn’t been the titular star of a game since the 2005 release of Super Princess Peach on the Nintendo DS, according to The Washington Post.

Although Super Princess Peach received positive reviews, the gameplay was scrutinized for its distasteful portrayal of gender stereotypes, having Peach use her strong emotions to defeat enemies, according to Polygon

“Princess Peach: Showtime!” relies on the character’s innate strength and agency, offering an empowering portrayal of the heroine.

Developed by Japanese studio Good-Feel and published by Nintendo, the pairing is no stranger to Super Mario spin-offs. Starting with Wario Land: Shake I on the Nintendo Wii, Good-Feel continues to spotlight various Mario characters in their video games — the latest, Princess Peach.

Unlike Good-Feel’s other Nintendo Switch title Yoshi’s Crafted World, the game is a story-focused single-player experience with no difficulty options to choose from. As such, “Princess Peach: Showtime!” is seemingly locked on easy mode.

The story unfolds with Peach and her loyal guard Toad visiting the Sparkle Theater — a grand venue brimming with show-stopping plats. Their stay is interrupted by the wicked sorceress Grape and her minions, the Sour Bunch, who wreak havoc on the theater.

Amidst the commotion, Peach joins forces with Stella, the guardian of the Sparkle Theater, embarking on a quest to restore the site and defeat Grape. Traveling through the various levels of Sparkle Theater, the pair find themselves in nail-biting scenarios.

Historically, the Mario series has experimented with various gameplay styles. Games like Super Mario Odyssey have taken on a 3D imagining, allowing players to jump from platform to platform in a 3D plane. Others like Super Mario Wonder use standard 2D side-scrolling adventures.

“Princess Peach: Showtime!” blends these styles in a 2.5D platformer — progressing from left to right with limited movement in the foreground and background — with 30 unique levels, five boss fights and five rehearsals in which the player races against the clock to defeat hordes of enemies, collect gems or save the theater’s inhabitants, called Theets.

With the 2.5D gameplay, players aren’t locked to the traditional side-scrolling format. Instead, as Peach, players can freely explore the backgrounds of some levels to find hidden collectibles — similar to the Paper Mario series, a turn-based role-playing game with an emphasis on storytelling and exploring.

Finding the Sparkle Gems is critical for completing the game. Hidden across the levels are 220 Sparkle Gems, but only 70 need to be found to progress. Sparkle Gems can be used for theater decorations to personalize your theater, but most importantly, unlocking boss fights.

Although some gems can be tough to find, a majority are practically hiding in plain sight, making the 70-gem quota easy to obtain. 

Aside from the Sparkle Gems, each level contains optional Ribbons, allowing players to change the design of Peach’s dress.

But Peach doesn’t need Ribbons to showcase her unique fashion. Throughout the game, Peach dawns ten costumes granting her special abilities — some more fun than others.

The first ability players unlock is Swordfighter Peach, which lets the princess strike down opponents. Despite being one of the first few power-ups, it’s disappointing how simplistic and repetitive it is to use. Players can simply spam the B button and beat the level. 

Ninja Peach easily upstages the sword fighting ability. Players run significantly faster, charge attacks and camouflage themselves by holding the left stick up against any wall. 

These distinctive abilities invite intense moments of gameplay where Peach must sneak up on enemies and evade stage lights hunting her down.

Not all costumes are used to attack enemies. Outfits like Detective Peach significantly alter the gameplay by having players scan levels for clues and interrogate Theets in tap-through dialogue telling the player where to go and what to look for.

Abilities of this caliber are the game’s biggest strength, keeping the gameplay fresh by breaking up its fast pace and consistently introducing new mechanics.

Although the theatrical setting lends itself to an array of level themes that mimic plays performed at the theater, the environment isn’t unusual for the Super Mario series. Settings like cityscapes and haunted mansions are reused from other Nintendo Switch Mario games, blending the title into the larger Mario series while offering an inventive spin on classic games.

Still, Peach finds herself in alien invasions, vandalized museums and an intense horseback train chase, which refreshingly diverges from the Mario formula.

Peach’s newfound abilities are the main focus of the boss fights — but it doesn’t save most of them from being a drag.

Battling the Figure Skater at the end of A Snow Flower On Ice, the game’s winter-themed level. is an enjoyable challenge, requiring players to spin the boss until they lose balance and take damage. Simultaneously, players must help the scattered Theets on the ice rink, adding a much-needed level of difficulty.

But then, there are fights with no challenge or creativity — like the final battle with Grape.

Despite hit-or-miss bosses and level themes, controlling Peach is responsive, with the character reacting immediately to button inputs — surprisingly not a given in other video games.

Ignoring the rehearsal sidequests, the game can be completed in at least five hours.

The shortened gameplay makes it easy for players new to the Mario series, but for those with familiarity, it’s lackluster.

It’s clear “Princess Peach: Showtime!” caters to a younger audience. This doesn’t mean it’s not an enjoyable experience for veteran gamers, as it introduces a plethora of concepts under-explored by the larger Mario franchise.“Princess Peach: Showtime!” is available for purchase in-store and online on the Nintendo eShop.

Featured image courtesy of Nintendo

Share the post