Super Princess Peach (DS) review
"It's taken almost 160 years of women's suffrage for video games to arrive at this moment in time. Princess Peach, perhaps the most insufferably vague ditz ever to grace the Mushroom Kingdom has finally been empowered, and with her parasol in tow, she's looking to set a new benchmark in 2D, action gaming."
1848 Women first demand equal rights
1963 Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Vladimirovna Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.
1968 A women's liberation movement denounces the bra as a symbol of conformity and servitude.
2005 Princess Peach of the Mushroom Kingdom strikes a blow for women everywhere by setting off on a solo journey to get her man back.
It's taken almost 160 years of women's suffrage for video games to arrive at this moment in time. Princess Peach, perhaps the most insufferably vague ditz ever to grace the Mushroom Kingdom has finally been empowered, and with her parasol in tow, she's looking to set a new benchmark in 2D, action gaming. Where the Great Giana Sisters first started on this path back in 1987, Nintendo's royal beauty will bring the journey full circle, running, jumping, and stomping her way back fo the only man she's ever loved.
(+10 Geek if you recognise the Rainbow Arts classic)
At a glance, Super Princess Peach looks like something your kid sister might enjoy. It's brightly colored box art and soft, cartoon-esque visuals would seem a perfect match for her delicate sensibilities, as might Peach's pink dress and talking, yellow parasol. Those willing to risk public humiliation and a few, ignorant jabs from their friends however, will be glad to know there's far more to Nintendo's latest than simply pleasing the wee ones. Certainly, not since the likes of Yoshi's Island (and to a lesser extent its follow up, Yoshi's Story) have gamers been presented with such a finely crafted platformer. And though Super Princess Peach may play like your average S/NES Super Mario game, its delectable new gimmick has added a wealth of playability... and perhaps a touch of controversy as well.
Now ladies, the thing to remember is that Nintendo are just having a bit of fun. Empowering Princess Peach with a range of extreme emotions does not make her a parody, nor is she a subtle reference to PMS/menopause/post natal depression, or any other form of chemical imbalance. At any rate, it's while traversing each of the 72 stages that players will inevitably find their way blocked by any number of impassable objects, and it's only by delving into Peach's emotional well being that further progress is made.
For example, using the stylus to tap one of four "emotion icons" will prompt Princess Peach to explode in a fireball of feminine fury. Exactly what's needed to melt a badly placed snowman, or provide limited protection from a sudden Kuribo assault. Returning to the touch screen then allows you to swing her pendulum from anger to joy, causing her to spin around in circles and fly through the air with a song in her heart. Selecting sadness on the other hand will douse the screen in tears, while laughter as usual, appears to be the best medicine. Watch it though, over-reliance on such womanly charms will drain Peach of all emotion, leaving her exposed and vulnerable at the most inopportune of times.
Not that you'll have too much to worry about, Super Princess Peach is hardly the most difficult of platformers. Through a combination of infinite lives and some fairly straight forward level design, Mario veterans will blast through this journey in under a week. Even the boss encounters feel easier than they should, mostly thanks to the subtle hints and strategies dropped in the lead up to each confrontation. "King Teresa is afraid of light" means you should use your anger to ignite the candles, "the owl is vulnerable from above though might prompt you to fly. And while such help is necessary where younger players are concerned, it's the way Super Princess Peach bends over for everyone that hurts the most.
Heck, if I said she was easy, would you take it the wrong way?
Regardless of all that though, I still found myself plowing through each stage with a compulsive obsession to complete everything this game had to offer. Simply running from platform to platform wasn't enough, I had to collect the coins, rescue the hidden Kinopios, and generally explore every inch of every stage. You see, Nintendo know how to pack a game with extra content, and they haven't disappointed here. The more coins I collected, the more I could upgrade Peach's various abilities, the more bonus items I eventually unlocked. From mini-games to sound checks, enemy galleries and jigsaw puzzles, the urge to collect it all is undeniable, and can make for some pretty intense gaming.
Still, no matter how much I try to deny it, I can't shake the feeling that Super Princess Peach is Nintendo's idea of a primer. With New Super Mario Brothers already scheduled for a release sometime next year, it's the figurative big toe to the market's hot bath of steaming water. The pieces are in place, and the players have been set, now it's only a matter of gauging how well the public is going to react. Accordingly then, Super Princess Peach delivers a solidly enjoyable platform experience with enough innovation and hidden content to keep players happy well into next week. It's not the hardest game in the world, but for the DS at least, it's amongst the most enjoyable.
* Super Princess Peach is accessible to all comers
* The controls are impeccable
* With 72 stages, there's a lot to explore
* The story is suitably amusing in a tongue in cheek kind of way
* The new emotional gimmick works a treat
* There's a ton of upgrades, options, and mini-games to unlock
* Neat visuals are highly reminiscent of Yoshi's Story
* Classic Mario-esque sounds
* It's great to see Nintendo still have it
* Super Princess Peach isn't all that difficult
* Too many hints spoil the boss encounters
Staff review by Michael Scott (November 06, 2005)
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