Princess Peach: Showtime! Proves that Peach is one of the best characters in Nintendo’s roster

One thing I didn’t expect to do in a game this year was using a bamboo shoot to breathe underwater while sneaking past guards like Ninja Peach. And I definitely did not expect you to attempt to blend into the background by just holding up fake grass. But that’s the beauty of it Princess Peach: Showtime! – You never know what you’re going to get, and it’s all incredibly charming.

In my roughly fifteen hours with the game, I was constantly surprised by the subtle touches the developers brought to the stages and Peach as a character. Whether you’re decorating a cake, fighting an alien invasion, or catching robbers as a cowgirl, variety is the game’s greatest strength.

Peach strikes out on her own adventure

The setup is simple: Peach attends a show at the theater and his patrons are unceremoniously taken hostage by a mysterious villain known as Grape and her sour bunch of minions. With the help of her new friend, Stella, Peach will need to use the power of the ribbon to transform into various roles to bring peace to the theater. In a sequence that mashes together the magical girl aesthetic of Cardcaptor SakuraThe music of Seldomand the dynamic posing of Super Smash BrosPeach transforms into different heroes, all with their own powers.

Each floor of the theater is home to four different stages. And each of these stages require different roles. Sometimes they are action-oriented, tasking Pitch with galloping on horseback and jumping over bridges, while others are more subdued, such as Detective Pitch. At just 15-20 minutes per stage, you’ll be able to experience many different styles of play in a single session – or you can play through a single stage as a quick pick-me-up.

The quality of the stages varies, with Ninja Peach and Detective Peach being particular standouts, but they all have their appeal. While I wish some stages, such as Patissiere Peach, took their roles a bit further, I understand why the developers chose to streamline the mechanics. For example, baking like Patissiere Peach boils down to mashing the A button until your dough looks like a rainbow. And that’s it. But the straightforward nature of the activities makes it a perfect entry point for less experienced gamers.

Perfect for new gamers

One thing I’ve realized over the past few years is that finding an entry point into gaming is a challenge. My mom was around video games from the time I was little, but she wasn’t interested in trying one herself until I got her to play. Mario Kart 8: Deluxe on the switch. Now she has her own switch and hundreds of hours in it Animal Crossing: New Horizons. But even these games, which seem like perfect introductions to the world of gaming, come with obstacles. Whether it’s simple things like knowing you can run instead of just walking, or that you can sell multiple items at one time, video games have their own language that can be frustrating for new players.

Princess Peach: Showtime! Feels like the perfect game to get an aspiring gamer into the hobby. Each stage offers new gameplay mechanics, but limits the amount of actions you need to perform simultaneously. The stages are long enough to give you a chance to get the hang of how to use your new abilities, but never overstay their welcome. And if you’re having a hard time, such as with the lasers during the Dashing Thief Pitch stage, you can use an item to give you three more hearts.

For more experienced players, the lack of difficulty may be disappointing, but that’s not to say there’s no challenge in the game. After clearing each floor, there are bonus stages that put your skills with a ribbon role to the test. And of course, collecting all the balloons on each stage will definitely require you to comb each stage carefully. Even though I never lost all my hearts—or found my brain taxed by a stage—the variety of activities kept me looking forward to what was next regardless of skill level.

The performance is not perfect

But there are some issues that are worth addressing, with the biggest being the performance. Several times during my playthrough, the frame rate dropped significantly, causing a disconnect between my inputs and the on-screen actions. The stuttering was especially apparent when the camera was shifted horizontally while performing an action. It wasn’t always, but it was enough of a problem that I felt the need to call it out here.

There may also be some issues with the audio. The game has a pleasing soundtrack, and Peach’s voice actor does a phenomenal job – more on that soon – but some effects sound like they’re heavily compressed. The most noticeable of these is the jumping action. Considering how often you jump into the game, it can quickly become hard on the ears when the associated sound effect sounds like it’s being played through a tin can.

Aside from these issues though, the game was a pleasure, as long as you go in with the right expectations. You will not find the challenge of a main line Mario Game, or the expansive world of a Zelda here. Instead, Peach gets her own adventure that’s closer to something like Kirby and the Forgotten Land. And that’s a good thing. It’s both inviting and exciting. For the first time in a long time, I felt like I got to know Peach beyond her role as the princess of the Toadstool Kingdom.

Peach’s debut is one to remember

Peach is not a silent protagonist here; She is full of personality. We see her transform, both literally and figuratively, to match every situation. Sometimes she’s strict, sometimes she’s playful, but she’s always a unique peach. And sometimes that’s a princess who loves pink. I’ve never felt more attached to her character, and that’s in large part thanks to her voice acting. The take on the character still feels in line with who she’s been over the years, but it’s also much more natural and conversational.

And I haven’t even mentioned one of the best aspects! The collectible outfits! I love customization in games, especially when it comes to changing outfits. There are plenty of unique costumes for both Peach and Stella that you need to find, buy (using the in-game currency) or earn by completing challenges. It’s a great reward system that allows players to show off their own style.

If you’re looking for a game that’s great for pick-and-play sessions, endlessly charming, and welcoming to players of all skill levels, Princess Peach: Showtime! is a great experience. It doesn’t have the challenge of a main line Mario Play, but it’s not supposed to. It’s Peach’s own adventure – and she’s the star of the show.

Princess Peach: Showtime! Release on Nintendo Switch on March 22nd for $79.96.

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Image credit: Nintendo

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