Princess Peach: Showtime review | VG247
7 mins read

Princess Peach: Showtime review | VG247

Princess Peach has made her long-awaited comeback in Princess Peach: Showtime, her second mainline game since Super Princess Peach arrived on the Nintendo DS, way back in 2005. Almost two decades later, Mario’s number one princess has returned to show us what she’s really all about – no longer being at the whim of her emotions, but instead taking to the center of the stage as she reclaims the Sparkle Theater from the Sour Bunch.

That’s right. Princess Peach previously starred in a platforming game of her own where the main mechanic was channeling her emotions – rage, joy, gloom, and calm – to harness different abilities throughout the game. A 10-year-old me thought that it was great. It was vibrant, jovial, full of style – as a Peach game should be – but it hasn’t really aged well.

It’s safe to say this derivative mechanic has been addressed – and flipped on its head entirely – in Princess Peach: Showtime. The world’s a stage in Showtime, quite literally, as Peach takes on multiple starring roles in each of the stage-plays being hosted at Sparkle Theater, which is being overtaken by the notorious Sour Bunch.

Princess Peach dressed in a thief outfit, stood in front of a glowing red computer.
No, she isn’t a Phantom Thief. | Image credit: Nintendo

And with Peach’s varying roles across the different stage-plays, you’ll find lots of variation between gameplay and how each theatrical performance plays out. As Swordfighter Peach, Kung Fu Peach, and Ninja Peach, our Princess is focused on combat and stealth, forcing herself through waves of minions and 2.5D platforming levels (which work astoundingly well within the stage-play setting).

Alternatively, Peach channels her baking skills as Patissiere Peach, who’s stage-plays feature minigames akin to the unfairly-forgotten Cooking Mama. There’s also Mermaid Peach, who uses the power of her voice to manipulate sea creatures, and Figure Skater Peach, whose moves in the ice rink are capable of showing the Sour Bunch who’s boss. Let’s not forget the likes of Cowgirl Peach and her long-ranged lasso skills, and Detective Peach, who’s strike of intuition and ability to solve a mystery is unmatched. These roles don’t appear just the once, either, with each of Peach’s myriad personae returning for second and third acts, too.

All the worlds are stages. | Image credit: Nintendo

Ultimately, Peach is represented as the badass, feminine role model that many of us have been longing for here. Finally. While we’ve had our glimpses of this Peach previously, and know very well that she can hold her own ground as a character following Super Mario Bros. Movie, those moments have been few and far between until now. Not only has she literally been given a grand stage to perform on as she strives to save the Sparkle Theater and a beloved community of Theets in Showtime, but she has finally been given the metaphorical stage to shine on, too.

It’s a refreshing experience. Princess Peach: Showtime is not a Mario game. At times, it feels more like a Kirby game, actually, given just how simple it all is and the fact that Peach ultimately boasts these varying abilities during each stage-play. In a 2.5D environment, Peach has the ability to weave between obstacles while platforming, making each level feel like a proper theatre with all its blocking, positioning, and mise en scène. The varying roles that Peach takes on keep the relatively easy gameplay exciting. As is Nintendo’s wont.

One moment you’re slashing through foes as the Swordfighter, then, during another, you’ll be baking cookies to satiate your enemies’ appetites. Detective Peach undoubtedly stands tall as one of my favorite roles for the Princess to take on, as she gets to investigate clues and solve puzzles, for a change. Mighty Peach – a superhero with superhuman strength – is also great fun. You can throw cars at UFOs, for Christ’s sake! Say less.

Princess Peach Showtime
What’s a block button? | Image credit: Nintendo

Princess Peach: Showtime will be more of a novelty to the adult player, but in the same vein as Kirby and the Forgotten Land and Super Mario Odyssey, there’s a lot that even the most seasoned of gamers will appreciate about Peach’s foray onto the stage. While easy as ever to complete levels and progress through the Sparkle Theater’s floors, some levels will still pose a challenge from time to time – particularly the fast-paced, Dashing Thief levels – and retrieving every collectable on offer can be a puzzle in and of itself.

These collectables are Sparkle Gems, and they complement Ribbons and Pink Bows (which unlock new outfits for Peach and her companion, Stella), which are hidden throughout each level. While some are hiding in plain sight, you will find that others require some back-tracking or rather speedy reaction times to collect, granting a small challenge to keen collectors. So, there’s still plenty to enjoy, revel in, and be stimulated by – regardless of age and experience. That shouldn’t be a surprise, though: it’s Nintendo’s modus operandi.

My only qualm with Princess Peach Showtime is incredibly minor, and perhaps predictable: boss fights. Instructions can be unclear in later fights, with your only help being the advice of studying the boss and pressing ‘B’ once the opportune time to attack arrives. This isn’t anything new in kids’ games, granted, but during Showtime’s climactic encounters, the ‘opportune time’ isn’t always blatantly obvious.

Once you figure it out, the rest of the boss fight is plain-sailing, but it can be frustrating hitting your head against a wall – or literal boss – for a short while before finally discovering when that brief moment of opportunity is.

Though, the bosses that you will be encountering are very unique and despite some small frustrations, did bring me a lot of joy when first running into them. I sadly can’t spoil my favourite bosses here, but let’s just say that some of these bosses remind me of some beloved literature, theatre, and movie antagonists over time. That could merely be a coincidence, I’ll admit, but there are some very fun bosses that make up the Sour Bunch.

Princess Peach Showtime
Definitely not half-baked. | Image credit: Nintendo

Peach’s foray onto the stage is is full of whimsy and many moments of sheer joy, just as 2023’s Super Mario Wonder is, but the difference is that this is Peach’s game – and hers alone. Despite the Sour Bunch trying to sully the Sparkle Theater’s reputation, Princess Peach is here – as a Cowgirl, Ninja, Detective, and so forth – to put a stop to that. And she puts on a wonderful, replayable, empowering performance while doing so.

Princess Peach Showtime comes to Nintendo Switch on March 22. This review was written based on Switch code provided by Nintendo.

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