Princess Peach: Showtime! offers gentle adventure for younger Mario movie fans

February 20, 2024
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Few outside of Nintendo foresaw how huge last year’s Super Mario Movie would turn out to be. It was a proper blockbuster phenomenon, and a reminder that when it comes to video game characters, the Mushroom Kingdom remains home to the most universally recognisable cast around. Still, it doesn’t feel like chance that Nintendo seems to have smartly scheduled its subsequent year of Switch game launches with follow-up adventures for all of that film’s supporting cast: a Luigi’s Mansion 2 remake, a new Mario vs. Donkey Kong, and – no less than 18 years after her last solo outing – a fresh vehicle for Peach.

If you played the slightly odd Super Princess Peach on Nintendo DS, there are happily few hangovers here. Gone, thankfully, is the need for Peach to power-up by picking one of four emotional states for her to display (joy! gloom! rage! calm!), replaced here instead by 10 costumes which, in a sort of Mario-like manner, bestow a limited range of extra abilities. Princess Peach: Showtime is set within a theatre, and the conceit of being able to star in 10 multi-act plays based around each of these costumes is a smart one. At its best, there are shades of Luigi’s Mansion 3 here – in the themed stages lying behind different doors, accessible from the theatre’s multi-level lobby hub – and even Paper Mario, as elements of each stage are constructed with charm from tactile scenery, such as wooden prop grass and trees.

But while the set dressing may seem somewhat familiar, the game’s opening suite of levels feel something of a more amateur production aimed at a younger audience, especially considering how low the difficulty of said levels are pitched. Arriving at the Sparkle Theatre for a night out with her Toad footmen, Peach’s evening is interrupted by the arrival of the game’s villain, a sorceress named Grape, and her minions, the Sour Bunch. With most of the theatre locked down, Peach must clear each of its many stages and spread cheer to the Theets – the theatre’s disheartened acting troupe – mostly with a simple button press. When powered up, Peach can also perform the appropriate themed action befitting her current costume with the same button press.

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