Princess Peach Showtime Review - Drama Teacher

  • First Released Mar 22, 2024
  • NS

Princess Peach Showtime is a breezy exploration of genres aimed at novice gamers.

Princess Peach, the prototypical video game damsel in distress, has had limited success with her own solo adventures. On the rare occasion that she's playable, she has typically been a sidekick in a larger adventure, like Super Mario RPG. Though she did land a starring role in Super Princess Peach, the game and its core mechanic—in which her powers were defined by wild mood swings—were a miss. Princess Peach Showtime is the latest attempt to make her own story, with nary a Mario or Luigi in sight, and this time she has come more into her own as an adventurer. More importantly, this solo outing seems primed at introducing new players to a wide variety of game genres. While veteran gamers will likely find the pacing too lethargic, it's nice that Nintendo is making such a clear overture to welcome new players.

And when I say that there's no Mario or Luigi, I mean at all. Nintendo's most iconic characters aren't even present in the intro, when Peach receives an invitation to come see the Sparkle Theater in a land occupied by Theets, little yellow creatures with bulbous noses. Upon arrival, the theater is taken over by a sorceress named Grape and her Sour Bunch goons, who kick out Peach's loyal Toad companions, misplacing her crown in the process, and proceed to corrupt all the plays. Peach finds a guardian of the playhouse, a fairy named Stella, who accompanies peach by taking the form of a ribbon in her hair. (When Peach puts her hair up into a ponytail, you know it's getting serious.) Stella is Peach's default weapon, letting you use a whip-like motion to magically change objects and enemies in the environment, and it's also the enabler for Peach's various transformations.

Please use a html5 video capable browser to watch videos.
This video has an invalid file format.
Sorry, but you can't access this content!
Please enter your date of birth to view this video

By clicking 'enter', you agree to GameSpot's
Terms of Use and Privacy Policy

Now Playing: Princess Peach: Showtime! – Transformation Trailer

When Peach steps into a corrupted play, she finds a spark that lets her take on the role of its hero. These are broad archetypes like Swordfighter, Cowgirl, and Detective, and the 10 costume types allow for a broad range of different gameplay types. Once you've found your costumes in the first version of a stage, future stages of that type will start you with it already equipped. Each floor has four plays to conquer, after which you'll fight a boss and gain access to the next floor. It's all very easily understandable and flows nicely.

Since every stage is a sidescroller, I found that the plays felt most natural and familiar when they hewed closest to familiar sidescrolling action game mechanics. But even within those, there was some variety at play. The Swordfighter plays are modeled after a very traditional action game, light parry system included. The Cowgirl, on the other hand, is focused more on ranged attacks with your lasso, and the Kung-Fu stages included some lightly rhythmic fighting game mechanics. My personal favorite was Mighty Peach, a cute take on the henshin hero genre like Ultraman, in which Peach gets a robotic-looking power suit that she uses to fly through the air, take out invading UFOs, and lift buses over her head to throw at enemies or use as makeshift bridges. Those stages played almost like a shoot-em-up, with a unique focus on ricocheting ships and aliens into each other.

Some stages are less combat-focused but still handle like simplified platformers. The Ninja stages are centered on stealth, letting you hold up set dressing to blend in with the grass, or duck underwater and breathe through a reed while sneaking up on enemies. The Dashing Thief is focused mostly on a grappling hook as you run across rooftops. Other stages stray further from the platformer formula, like the Figure Skater stages that let you glide gracefully across the ice as you hit icon-coded stunt points to grab collectibles and ultimately defeat the evil Sour Bunch figure skater rival. The Mermaid stages take place almost entirely underwater and consist mostly of directing your siren singing voice--either to direct a group of fish where to go for solving puzzles, Pikmin-style, or to collect special singing-note fish to compose a song. They're all variations on a theme to some extent, but they have enough slight differences to act as a rudimentary introduction to disparate game genres.

Then there are the costumes that stray furthest from traditional platforming mechanics, to mixed results. The Patissiere (pastry chef) stages are modeled after timing-based cooking games, as you bake batches of cookies or carefully apply frosting to cakes. These are a nice change of pace that really show the flexibility of the concept. The same can't be said for the Detective stages, which are the weakest of the bunch. These consist almost entirely of walking around, talking to Theets, and then holding a button to point out an inconsistency with some object in the relatively small room. Even keeping in mind that these mysteries are aimed at younger children, the pace of these segments is particularly dull. From your movement speed to tracking something with your magnifying glass to holding the button to call out an inconsistency, everything feels just a little slower than it should be.

That said, the Detective stages, like all of the stages, carry an excellent eye for set design. Princess Peach Showtime works on two levels, as you have to both visually understand the goals and mechanics of the stage itself, while also taking notice that these are ultimately supposed to be stage plays. Many of the props and backgrounds are designed to look like stagecraft, and moving parts like Mighty Peach's alien enemies or your Cowgirl's trusty steed are made to look like puppetry, with seams and barely-visible strings. It's a lovely, subtle touch that really sells the worldbuilding of the Sparkle Theater. The boss designs are equally inventive, as they're built to look like pieces of behind-the-scenes stage pieces that have been cursed into fearsome beasts, like a massive snake made out lighting rigging to make up its segmented body.

Purrjector Cat is one of the stylized bosses based on stagecraft.
Purrjector Cat is one of the stylized bosses based on stagecraft.

As you proceed through each stage, you'll find coins, as well as sparks that are ultimately used to gate access to each boss. These are plentiful enough that I never had to backtrack for more, which is a welcome change from other recent Nintendo games with similar gating structures. Your coins, meanwhile, can be used to purchase additional dress designs for Peach and ribbon colors for Stella. This isn't very impactful, given that most of your time is spent in plays where Peach will be changed into her stage-appropriate costume, but it's nice to see your customized Peach when she's exploring the main floors of the theater at least. As you progress, you'll also unlock special stages to rescue Sparklas, the Theet embodiment of each of the play's characters, as well as elements like timed challenge stages. These serve as the culmination of the individual stories, and while they still aren't very difficult, they are among the most challenging parts of the game. That should be enough to give the target audience the sense of a difficulty ramp. Plus, all of these collectibles means there's plenty to do for completionists, but the gating isn't so aggressive that it's likely to frustrate players--especially the younger players who seem to be the target.

And just as Mario games have never been known for their strong stories, Princess Peach doesn't escape that issue in her own solo outing. Grape is a typical evil cackling villain with a barely-stated plan or motivations. We never even get a clear idea of whether she intended to attack the theater while Peach was there, or if that was happenstance. This is too bad because the final confrontation is a gameplay highlight, ending on a high note that would be even better if we'd been given a more compelling villain to defeat. If anything, the stories in the individual plays themselves are often more interesting, thanks in part to some great, so-goofy-it's-fun writing and animation work.

Princess Peach Showtime is a friendly, inviting game that's made to be easy to digest. Some of the genres work better than others in this format, but none of them are too tricky or off-putting, and most of it will come down to personal taste. None of these stages are fleshed out enough to support their own game, but they're an invitation for novice gamers to explore a bunch of different game types, with a charming (and apparently polymath) princess offering her gloved hand to welcome them in.

Back To Top

The Good

  • Loads of variety serves as a gentle, flexible introduction to myriad genres
  • Visual design shows neat touches of stagecraft, especially in the boss designs
  • Individual plays have fun story touches and funny villains

The Bad

  • Lethargic pacing may turn off more experienced gamers
  • Detective stages are a particular weak spot, with too-simple mysteries and slow pacing
  • The overarching villain, Grape, is underdeveloped

About the Author

Steve finished Princess Peach Showtime in about eight hours and always sort of suspected Peach was a theater kid. Review code was provided by the publisher.