Princess Peach: Showtime! Review – All the World’s a Stage

Peach takes the stage in a bag of ideas and play styles.

Posted By | On 27th, Mar. 2024

Princess Peach: Showtime! Review – All the World’s a Stage

Princess Peach Showtime is one of those games Nintendo makes which are aimed at expanded audience demographics and meant to be simpler entry points into the medium for those who aren’t usually big on playing games. This means, in simple terms, this is not a game where the veteran player will find a lot of challenge and depth. It is a very well designed game that younger and new players will probably get a lot out of – it’s actually surprising how comprehensive and extensive this game is, and there is enough to keep the enterprising new player coming back even after finishing a course to try again and to keep trying to find secrets and hidden collectibles. 

And there will be a lot of younger and new players who will be looking into Princess Peach Showtime! Created in the wake of the massive success of the Mario movie last year, this game is very clearly meant to be an onboarding ramp for younger girls who saw that movie and liked Peach, and want a game starring her. Unlike Nintendo’s past, very tone deaf attempts at having Peach centred games, Showtime! is actually a great premise which allows just enough contextualization for Nintendo and developers Good Feel to give a nice story reason for all the otherwise loosely connected (if at all) ideas and themes for their stages and gameplay mechanics.

"While you are always gong to be using the same three buttons to play the game, what they do and how they allow you to interact with the stage (er, play) you are in will change by the level."

And that’s the interesting thing, the game actually changes how it plays across stages – from basic sword fighting to lassoing as a cowgirl while chasing down bandits on horseback, from figure skating on ice to fighting off aliens, every stage in Princess Peach Showtime! Is different. And by different I don’t just mean the aesthetic and theming, I mean the entire gameplay changes. While you are always gong to be using the same three buttons to play the game, what they do and how they allow you to interact with the stage (er, play) you are in will change by the level. Meaning Princess Peach Showtime is a delightful smorgasbord of a lot of different ideas, mechanics, and themes. As mentioned at the outset of this review, none of these are explored to any real meaningful depth or iteration. You get the basic concept introduced early in the stage, and then you use that signature mechanic to complete the stage before moving on. Every level feels like its own completely distinct and unique “genre” – the game is very clearly designed to cast as wide a net as possible, and to cater to kids with something new to keep their attention spans engaged constantly.

I do appreciate that the game gives reasons to keep replaying its levels – usually to collect any collectibles you may have missed – because generally speaking, this is a fairly easy game. It’s still engaging and fun for the sheer charm and whimsy, but at no point will your skills or thinking be challenged by anything – action, combat, puzzles, traversal – in the game. Peach does, however, make concessions for even newer players who may need more help than the game’s default setup provides – for instance, you can get an additional three hit points if you struggle with avoiding obstacles or enemy hits. Or, if you die at an end-stage boss enough times, the game offers you to use all the currency you’ve earned in the level to auto-complete the stage. You don’t have to – but it’s a good option for younger players who may be stuck or frustrated by a specific section of the game, to allow them the flexibility to skip past it and go do other things (plus, as mentioned, the replayability means you can always come back to what you skipped and try again later).

princess peach showtime

"The game is acutely aware of the fact that that it is taking place on the stage at all times, and it constantly reinforces that – from having a spotlight constantly shined on Peach to being able to see the strings on some sets and characters as they move through the stages."

With each level being so varied and different, and having its own distinct genre and mechanics, you would expect the quality to vary wildly across levels. And you would be right. While none of the levels is bad, the limited control scheme paired with the lack of meaningful iteration means a lot of them don’t really feel too compelling to play. Again, this may very well be an opinion exclusive to more seasoned players, and younger players may have zero problems with, for example, the loose-ish controls the can create frustration in some rhythm mini game sections of Princess Peach Showtime!, but at the very least, it is evident that some levels very obviously work better than some others do.

What remains consistent across the game, surprisingly enough, is the quality of the boss fights. Now, again, these are simple boss fights for a simple game – don’t go expecting Monster Hunter World or Elden Ring here (I mean, seriously, what is wrong with you if you were expecting that?). But they’re delighgtfully well designed, both visually and in terms of the mechanics they involve, and definitely among the best parts of the game.

Also great – the game’s commitment to its central theatre motif. See, the story of Showtime!, such as it is, is that Peach went with a couple of Toads to a theatre to watch a play, where things went wrong, and now she has to help. This theatre has multiple auditoriums, each with their own plays (which is where the different costumes and genres for each level come from), and you have to clear them off one by one. The game is acutely aware of the fact that that it is taking place on the stage at all times, and it constantly reinforces that – from having a spotlight constantly shined on Peach to being able to see the strings on some sets and characters as they move through the stages.

Princess Peach Showtime!

"Ultimately this is a game for younger and newer players, and it’s a well designed version of that. Younger players, or their parents playing with them, will have a great time with it, and you can still enjoy it if you don’t fall into those categories – but just keep your expectations in check."

The new theme also allows Princess Peach Showtime! To have its own very distinct identity from the mainline Super Mario games. Very little to no elements from the main games make it here – I mean, sure, okay, you have the toads, you have castles, and you have Peach herself, but really, this is very much its own thing – as it should be, rather than feeling like a lesser offshoot of Super Mario.

Unfortunately, while Peach is definitely a winner on the presentation front conceptually, the execution definitely does it in. To put it in nice terms, this game is fairly lacking from a tech perspective. There are loads of load times (and while they aren’t interminably long, I wouldn’t call them short), and the game itself is running at an alarmingly low resolution leading to a soft image as well as very obvious deficiencies like jaggies and blurring. Again, this is presumably something the target audience will neither notice, nor care about – but bear in mind that this game definitely seems to have less of the polish hat you would otherwise expect from a Nintendo first party game.

Is Princess Peach Showtime! Worth it? I would say it is if you have players you want getting into games, especially if they are coming off of the Mario movie, and want to play as Peach on her many adventures. It’s also a great game to just chill with – it’s inventive enough to make sure you’re not totally tuning out, but easy enough that you can afford to let your guard down. But ultimately this is a game for newer players, and it’s a well designed version of that. They will have a great time with it, and you can still enjoy it if you don’t fall into those categories – but just keep your expectations in check.

Speaking of expectations, I’ll be hoping this game gets a follow up that iterates on and fleshes out this one’s ideas, and hopefully starts an ongoing series. I would hate for this to be the last time we saw Peach in a starring role, after all.

This game was reviewed on Nintendo Switch.


THE GOOD

Very thoroughly executed striking central aesthetic and motif; an extremely well designed and accessible game for newer or younger players, of the sort we don't get enough of; levels are inventive; boss fights are fun.

THE BAD

The game doesn't iterate on any of its concepts or mechanics beyond the basics; it's fairly short and very easy; it lacks technical polish.

Final Verdict:
GOOD
Princess Peach Showtime! is a fun, charming, and well made game. It has its issues, but very few that its intended audience will care about. Hopefully it gets a follow up that gets to iterate on the core ideas.
A copy of this game was purchased by author for review purposes. Click here to know more about our Reviews Policy.

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