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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Game review: Girl power is brought to center stage in Princess Peach: Showtime!

Move out of the way, Mario – Peach is taking center stage.

For the first time in nearly 20 years, Princess Peach is the titular character in a Nintendo game.

Princess Peach: Showtime! takes place in the Sparkle Theater, a venue in Peach’s Mushroom Kingdom full of actors, crew workers and play-goers known as Theets.

After being invited by one of the Toads, Peach arrives for a night full of community theater. Her plans are dashed, though, when the villainous witch Madame Grape and her equally evil minions ransack the theater, separating Peach from her Toad companions and trapping her in the devastated theater with dozens of distraught Theets.

With all the performances in shambles, Princess Peach must team up with Stella, the ribbon-wielding guardian of the theater, to save the Theets and their plays. The pair pass through each different play’s storyline, with Peach taking on the hero’s role in each adventure and gaining alter egos like Swordfighter Peach and Detective Peach.

Every level of the game feels unique and creative, while still calling back to many of the best elements from other Mario franchise games. The cake decorating puzzles from Patisserie Peach levels felt reminiscent of a Mario Party minigame, while parts of other levels played similar to classic Super Mario games – jumping, collecting coins and vanquishing evil grunts.

While the gameplay and puzzles felt simple at times, – likely to appeal to a young audience – the darling settings, costumes and props were captivating throughout the game.

The theater theme is evident and well-executed throughout the game. Some players may disparage the lack of widely explorable settings, but the adherence to the setting felt more important.

Backdrops on some levels were modeled after cardboard theater props and some enemies were held together by puppet strings.

This added to the charm and uniqueness of the game – there are already plenty of games with more realistic and vast settings, but not so many who stick so devotedly to a unique theme that feels seamless in every level.

The unique qualities of Peach’s game does her more justice than creating a Super Mario game in the Mushroom Kingdom and just swapping Mario out for Peach, as was the case in the last Peach headliner, 2005’s Super Princess Peach.

Princess Peach: Showtime! finally gives Peach the variety Mario and other Nintendo characters have received for decades by giving her the diverse powers that are uniquely hers.

While it still feels like Nintendo played it safe by not adding new powers that are intrinsic to Peach, (remember, she gets her powers from her costumes), it is applaudable how creative their experimental ideas are in Showtime.

It is similar to how Mario gains his powers from items like mushrooms or flowers, making it easily explainable why different iterations of the characters may have different skill levels.

Princess Peach: Showtime! felt like a step in the right direction for female representation in popular Nintendo franchises. Hopefully, this powerful, skilled version of Peach sticks around for future games – and hopefully, those future games are a bit more challenging.

And who knows? Maybe Peach is paving the way for other women of Nintendo to step into the spotlight.