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Peach's Royal Highness: Critique of Showtime - a superficial portrayal.
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Peach’s Royal Highness: Critique of Showtime – a superficial portrayal.


In the conclusion of 1985’s Super Mario Bros, the classic 8-bit NES sound effects accompany Mario as he finally rescues the princess who has been held captive in another castle throughout the game. As the heroic plumber reaches her, a text bubble reveals her name to be Princess Peach. She expresses her gratitude, the credits begin to roll, and we say our goodbyes to her.

If you saw Anna Taylor-Joy’s portrayal in the Mario movie released last year, you may have noticed that the ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom has evolved beyond a one-dimensional character. This is reflective of the advancements in video games and feminism over the past 40 years. However, this is only the second game to feature the princess as the main character, the first being Super Princess Peach released in 2005 for the DS. Showtime features Nintendo’s pink princess as the center of attention, as a visit to the theater takes an unexpected turn and she must take on the stage to defeat villainous grapes and save the world of dramatic arts.

The setup is unusual yet entertaining, as it allows Peach to explore various genre-inspired side-scrolling levels. She can sneak through grass and run along rooftops as a ninja with a dagger, or gallop on horseback across train tracks and lasso bandits. Each new stage presents Peach with another opportunity to showcase her theatrical talent. The visuals are also impressive, with beautifully animated bosses and charmingly designed cakes. However, the gameplay can feel repetitive after a few minutes.

From mashing a button to stir cake mix as Patisserie Peach, to the simplistic jumping and combat that defines everything from swordfighting to superhero fisticuffs, Showtime’s gameplay is thinner than the Paper Mario. A rare highlight here is the two ice-skating levels, which see a leotard-clad Peach carving her way across a whimsical winter wonderland. An action-packed kung fu vignette offers up a few smiles, too, the visuals lending an enjoyable level of kitsch to its rudimentary pummelling pastiche.

The issue is that Showtime lacks the usual balance of depth and accessibility found in Mario’s games. Many of its features, such as the difficult mermaid levels and the poorly executed investigations with Detective Peach, come across as unfinished ideas that were rushed out of Nintendo HQ.

The Super Mario Wonder from last year was enjoyed by people of all ages, but Princess Peach: Showtime may not be as appealing to those who are well-versed in multiplication. Its beautifully crafted cinematic scenes and range of visuals add excitement, but it’s unfortunate that the creative animations and storytelling do not come with the same level of gameplay advancement.

Unfortunately, despite the intriguing concept and impressive quality, Peach’s long-awaited opportunity in the spotlight is ultimately unsatisfying and condescending. She comes across as one-dimensional and easily forgettable, which is a complete contrast to the competent and strong female lead in the Super Mario Bros film. With the Nintendo Switch approaching the end of its lifespan, this was the ideal opportunity to give the beloved Mushroom Kingdom ruler the recognition she truly deserved. However, while Kirby recently received an epic adventure akin to the Iliad in Forgotten Land, Peach’s experience is more like a shallow pop-up book.

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Source: theguardian.com