Preview

Princess Peach: Showtime! Puts a Damsel in Distress Center Stage as the Leading Lady

Thespians should delight.

Princess Peach Showtime
Nintendo
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While Princess Peach has been around for almost as long as Nintendo’s adored plumber Mario, she’s rarely gotten to be the star of her own game. Her only opportunity was 2005’s Super Princess Peach on the Nintendo DS, a game that was criticized for perpetuating outdated gender stereotypes by weirdly focusing on Peach’s emotions as her source of power.

But in her latest solo outing for Nintendo, Peach instead draws power from her love of acting and her versatility in taking on new roles in a refreshing and welcome twist on the iconic damsel in distress. With a mix of platforming and at least one minigame, Princess Peach: Showtime! is finally giving our beloved heroine the adventure she deserves — and having a lot of fun along the way.

As the story goes, Peach must save Sparkle Theater from evil Grape and the Sour Bunch, using the power of sparkle and her cheerful ribbon. Inverse got the chance to preview Princess Peach: Showtime! and try out five of Peach’s transformations: Ninja Peach, Cowgirl Peach, Figure Skater, Patisserie, and Swordfighter. So far, Nintendo has announced Peach has 10 transformations, though there could be more that we just haven’t seen yet.

At each level, Peach ventures forward and saves her Theets, minor actors who appear beside her, and transforms into a more powerful version of herself, such as Mighty Peach or Kung Fu Peach. In her neat blue uniform, Swordfighter Peach looks like she does fencing in college. She saves Theets from their naysaying doomerism by brandishing her ribbon at them and then fends off gloomy enemies by timing her dodges. This is the most Soulslike Peach we’ve ever gotten, and I’m here for it. When Peach dodges an enemy attack, blue outlines of her appear. There’s an epic slo-mo parry animation before she finishes off her opponents. It culminates in a big boss fight, complete with menacing paper vines. (Fans of Paper Mario may enjoy the hand-crafted aesthetic of Showtime that supports the illusion of Peach putting on the finest Broadway show of her career.)

Yeehaw!

Nintendo

For a palate cleanser, I went into Patisserie Peach. Just as the title suggests, Peach gets to make some cakes. She warms up by crafting a few cookies in a rhythm mini-game, where you must tap a button at just the right speed to fill up the batter. Several times, I accidentally pressed the button with perfect timing, and instead of baking four cookies, Peach generated a whole collection of giant cookies. This surprisingly successful cooking expedition gave me the most satisfying thrill of the preview.

Next up: Cowgirl Peach. Besides being extremely fashionable, Cowgirl Peach also gets to ride a white stallion, jump avidly over some collapsing bridges, and lasso enemies. All of my time grinding on Mario vs. Donkey Kong and using barrels to take down the foresworn gorilla came in handy, as I was able to lasso a barrel repeatedly and effectively against the shadowy villainous cowboy at the end of this level.

Summoning up the vibes of Disney’s Frozen or Michelle Kwan in her heyday, this Peach rallies her Theet troops in a parade of spins and jumps against another shadowy and flamboyant foe.

Nintendo

I dipped a toe into Ninja Peach before Nintendo rushed me to see Figure Skater Peach, but what I did get to see has me intrigued. While I’m not much of a stealth sicko, the idea of sneaking past bushes and walls is a lot more appealing when Peach just casually holds up cute little props like paper twigs and rolls of wallpaper to blend in. She can also wall jump to collect coins.

Last week, Nintendo unveiled four new Peach transformations, including Figure Skater Peach, and it’s easy to see why she’s showcased. Summoning the vibes of Disney’s Frozen or Michelle Kwan in her heyday, this Peach rallies her Theet troops in a parade of spins and jumps against another shadowy and flamboyant foe. Completing this level was simple and clean fun, and Peach’s skating outfit is sure to make any ice queen jealous.

Prancing through each segment of the theater, Peach buoys her friends with the power of optimism. Showtime feels like our princess has finally left the castle, packed up an arsenal of toys, and gotten ready for the rodeo. While she talks her buddies up, they’re also in turn encouraging her that she can be every version of herself that she wants to be. From what I’ve seen so far, she’s already living the dream.

Princess Peach: Showtime! arrives exclusively on the Nintendo Switch on March 22.

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