Princess Peach Showtime!

Review: Princess Peach: Showtime! — Let’s Put On A Show

It has been nearly two decades since Princess Peach had her own game on the Nintendo DS. Super Princess Peach is a more traditional platformer; this year’s Princess Peach: Showtime! is more of an adventure game starring Peach. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I can now confirm that this is not another platformer and is entirely new.

The story that sets up the Showtime’s premise is simple and introduces several new and colourful characters. Sparkle Theatre comprises multiple floors, each containing various stages in the form of plays that must be completed to progress in the game. Along the way, Peach discovers hidden secrets, uncovers mysterious artifacts, and learns new abilities to enhance her performance.

Princess Peach’s (Show)Time To Shine

Princess Peach: Showtime! breaks the mould by featuring the titular Princess as a protagonist rather than as a supporting character for Mario. Princess Peach: Showtime! follows Princess Peach in her fight against the Wicked Grape and the Sour Brunch as she works to reclaim Sparkle Theater.

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To help her on this mission, Stella grants the Princess the power of Sparkle with a magical ribbon, which allows Peach to transform into various roles. The premise is simple yet engaging, providing players with an experience that will feel familiar thanks to games like Super Mario 64‘s hub, which has a series of connected doors with each level that can be accessed.

The story in the game is simple and engaging, and it sets up the entire premise for the game. It introduces several new and colourful characters. Sparkle Theatre consists of different floors, each comprising various stages in the form of plays the player must complete to progress in the game. Along the way, the player character, Peach, discovers hidden secrets, uncovers mysterious artifacts, and learns new abilities to enhance her performance.

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Life is a theatre set in which there are but few practicable entrances

I found more in common with Kirby’s gameplay mechanics than anything about Super Mario. The sooner you dive into it, the faster you see that while there is some inspiration from the Mario series, this is a unique action game featuring such a beloved character.

Peach has simple commands like jump and actions, so don’t go in expecting to unleash wieldy combos against enemies. After a few hours, you can tell this is a video game that looks to bring in a younger audience and, despite that, is still a ton of fun to play.

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It wasn’t until several hours later that I enjoyed Peach’s transformation in Princess Peach Showtime. Each one isn’t a simple palette swap either, as each transformation serves a purpose according to where Peach is in Sparkle Theatre. The magical bow allows Peach to dive into the various plays around the theatre and kickstart her costume change.

The theatre is split into several floors, each containing four levels and a boss battle that culminates with the building expanding upon that floor’s boss defeat. Rinse and repeat.

In one level, you’ll play as Swordfighter Peach, a capable heroine capable of taking on enemies with a sword at large. At the same time, in another, see Ninja Peach, a highly versatile individual engaging in stealthy missions by blending with backdrops and maneuvering through several obstacles. You can even have Peach lasso enemies as a cowgirl – which is as much fun as you think it is.

There’s even a Cooking Mama-like situation with Patisserie Peach to shake things up. You grab the ingredients and work on combining them to deliver a satisfying dish or treat. You can’t just let things burn, either, so attention is necessary to get some fine dining out of the kitchen. Other minigames have you decorate cookies, pies, and an assortment of treats in a specific pattern and then feed the hungry masses.

Cowgirl Peach’s combat style emphasizes using a lasso for longer-range combat. The gameplay involves puzzles that require players to grab barrels and use them to attack enemies, interspersed with platforming and horseback chase sequences. These sections are engaging, and you must focus on them to ensure you make it to the other end unscathed.

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Furthermore, each of the various stages is noteworthy as well. The stage elements appear handcrafted by the stagehands as the game is set in a theatre. The weeds that Swordfighter Peach slashes look like painted cardboard, and the horse Cowgirl Peach rides is a toy suspended by ropes. I often looked to see what details were hidden throughout each play as the sets reminded me of the Paper Mario aesthetic. 

One of my favourite transformers is Mermaid Peach, which I find to be reminiscent of The Little Mermaid. In particular, I mean the video game from Capcom on the NES, as the setup shares some gameplay similarities that make me dream of a remake of that beloved NES title.

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Some segments involve using your voice to enchant the fish to help you navigate levels, while others include putting together a coordinated show of your fish friends.

Kung Fu Peach is another noteworthy transformation that allows you to live out your fantasy of being in an all-out Kung Fu brawl. You’ll take on an assortment of enemies in some thrilling encounters featuring some flashy moves Peach picks up thanks to the transformation she picks up.

Each level includes up to a dozen sparkles you need to discover, allowing Peach to move on to the next group of stages. Some are hidden and require some deduction regarding their whereabouts, while others might offer themselves up by completing actions within a stage. Regardless of how you gather them, the sparkles are fun to collect and discover.

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One of the best things I can say about Princess Peach: Showtime! is that it does a lot to respect the player’s time. You can complete an entire floor in under an hour, but finding each hidden Sparkle will take longer. I also found myself impressed with the attention to detail each stage includes. Most levels tend to move quickly, so you sometimes miss the small things hidden throughout; thankfully, the ability to revisit stages and get the most out of them is a beneficial way to extend your playtime. The low-stakes vibe Princess Peach: Showtime advertises through its gameplay might not be what you want, but I promise you I had more fun taking my time than powering through each night I resumed my playthrough.

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Ultimately, not everything works, and not every transformation feels like it belongs. I had difficulty resonating with the Detective Peach levels because they broke up the pacing in a way that didn’t match the other transformations. It isn’t inherently wrong to play through these sections, but they are a chore because you’re deducing a series of events to discover the true culprit. As I’ve said, the pacing begins to crawl while you speak to every guest or local on the stage to find out whodunnit.

Verdict

Princess Peach: Showtime! is ultimately a successful entry starring the beloved Princess Peach. She’s capable of starring in her own video game and can even hold her own against some of the most unruly enemies she’s faced thus far. With a dozen excellent transformations and several acts to push through, Showtime further proves that it doesn’t require Mario to show up to save the day because Princess Peach can hold her own.

Recommended

[The publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.]

Reviewed on: Switch

Princess Peach Showtime!
Review: Princess Peach: Showtime! — Let’s Put On A Show
Summary
Princess Peach: Showtime! is ultimately a successful entry starring the beloved Princess Peach. With a dozen transformations and several acts to push through, Showtime further proves that it doesn't require Mario to show up to save the day because Princess Peach can hold her own.
Liked
Low stakes and chill vibe throughout the campaign
More than a dozen transformation that are genuinely fun to play with
The attentiont to detail and level design is gorgeous
Didn't Like
The detective stages are probably the least fun
Pacing issues