The princess no longer needs saved! Peach has moved on from being fragile and defenseless to courageous and resourceful.

User Rating: 8.8 | Super Princess Peach DS
The princess no longer needs to be saved!

Defenders of Mushroom Kingdom Mario and Luigi have been kidnapped and it's up to no one other than Princess Peach to save them and restore order. Bowser has taken control of a Vibe Wand and the entire populace of Toads is in distress, running aimless and suffering from strange mood swings. Thus begins your adventure, trying to catch the crazed Toads that run around all over the screen.

In Super Princess Peach, you play as Peach, who has also been affected by the effects of the Vibe Wand. Equipped with her parasol and a set of recently discovered abilities, Peach sets out on a journey to save her friends and her kingdom.

The gameplay is reminiscent of the Super Mario Bros. games for the NES: typical 2D platformer, goombas, koopas, bob-ombs and tubes. If you've played a Mario game, you will feel right at home with the controls.

The innovation is the emotional vibe system that gives Peach her special abilities. The bottom screen displays the Heart Panel, where you can change Peach's mood. Each of her moods has a special power:

Joy: Peach sings and creates a little cyclone that makes her float, very useful to access higher grounds or to activate windmills.
Rage: Peach gets mad and burns up in flames, making it easy to burn wooden bridges or melt ice for accessing certain places.
Gloom: when Peach cries, and her tears can make vines grow, put out fires and set water mills in motion. She also runs a lot faster while crying.
Calm: when Peach is cool and in control, she can recover her own HP.
Switching abilities happens with a simple touch, but I wish there was a way to keep the stylus handy for this, just so I don't get fingerprints all over the touch screen.

Aside from her special abilities, Peach is armed with her trustworthy parasol Perry. Perry is extremely useful for a number of reasons: whacking enemies out of the way, filling the vibe gauge by absorbing enemies or floating on water. She can also use the coins collected in any stage to purchase new abilities for her parasol from the Shop. The Shop also offers health and vibe gauge upgrades, as well as little extras such as music.

The Menu offers a glossary of everything you come across, puzzles that you can put together once you find all the pieces, minigames (including a very cool one where you blow into the mic to make Toad jump), and other options that will become unlocked as you find or purchase them.

While exploring the eight worlds, you will find a variety of collectibles: there are three imprisoned Toads to be found per stage, puzzle pieces and other goodies to be discovered as you jump, run and float through the levels.

At the end of each world there is a boss fight. To make your way to the boss, first you need to go through a mini-game of sorts that uses the stylus (the objective of the first one is to stretch a series of elastic platforms and launch Peach up in the air to reach higher platforms while avoiding winged goombas). These pre-boss levels make really good use of the dual screens and the stylus/touch screen. The boss fights themselves will require you to make good use of the different vibes, usually with Perry giving you a hint at the beginning.

The game is extremely user friendly, since there are plenty of helpful blocks with hints to tell you about your abilities and how to react to certain surroundings. The upbeat music is quite pleasant, and the animations are very well done, both in the Heart Panel and in game. I especially like how Peach runs holding her dress up a little, how she spins her parasol and especially the hilarious idle animation (do take the time to watch it).

What's important to note is that Super Princess Peach isn't really a game just for girls. Yes, the protagonist is a female wearing a cutesy pink dress and parading around with a parasol, but if you put that aside what you have is a very old-school Super Mario Bros. experience, only better.

Peach has moved on from being fragile and defenseless to courageous and resourceful. The Princess, who happens to have been there all along, has finally earned her much deserved spotlight. Nintendo has found their new mascot, and most importantly, one that will probably attract more girls into playing games.

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