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Princess Peach: Showtime!

Princess Peach: Showtime!

The Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom takes centre stage as the headline act in this creative and fun platformer.

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Considering the uncertainty surrounding Nintendo's first-party portfolio for the latter half of this year, and the fact that the first half of 2024 seems to be mostly coined by remakes or remasters of already established projects, there is a very real chance that Princess Peach: Showtime! is the biggest 'new' game from Nintendo in the Mario franchise this year. Needless to say, this puts an unexpectedly large amount of pressure on the title to excel, and while I wasn't sure it was going to succeed in this effort after the opening few levels, the wider and extended game continued to draw me in with its creative and rather original use of platforming and unique gameplay systems.

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You see, Princess Peach: Showtime! isn't like many other Mario games in the past. It's not a 2/2.5D side-scrolling platformer, nor is it a 3D platformer like Super Mario Odyssey, Super Mario Galaxy, or even Mario + Rabbids: Sparks of Hope, for example. It sits in this weird limbo where it is almost a 2.5D 3D platformer that combines traditional platforming systems with party-esque mini-games. What I mean here is that since every level takes place on a stage, you only have limited area to move around, plus the camera angle is fixed and always looking at Peach at an angle as though it's a camera mounted in the rafters and recording the events happening on-stage. Match this up with a variety of power-ups and levels that are designed to make you compete in mini-games and side activities, and you get a game that truly feels unique to what we've come to expect from the world of Mario.

It is clear however that Princess Peach: Showtime! is made for younger audiences first and foremost. That isn't a knock, more so just a warning of what to expect of this game, as it's quite short and concise with mechanics and challenges that will struggle to pose much of a difficulty to the majority of more versed players. The other side of this coin is that Showtime is an ideal game to welcome younger folk to the world of Mario, and a damn entertaining welcome at that.

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Princess Peach: Showtime!
Princess Peach: Showtime!Princess Peach: Showtime!

For those unaware of what Showtime is actually about, this game sees Peach tasked with saving the illustrious Sparkle Theatre from the nefarious Grape. She's an eccentric villain that appears and begins turning the once wonderful venue into a hovel of darkness and despair, and it's Peach's dazzling presence that is required to light the way through the darkness, banish Grape and her Sour Bunch, and return the show to its usual programming, if you will.

The way that Showtime approaches level design and its power-ups is fantastic. Each play has a unique theme, level design, and Sparkle power attached to it. For example, the Wild West play features dusty saloons, runaway trains, and Cowgirl Peach, whereas you will find Figure Skater Peach in an on-ice type of play, fit with frozen lakes, snowmen, and frosty bushes decorated with fairy lights. The aesthetic of this game is a genuine highlight and something to celebrate.

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Add to this the Sparkle power-ups, which are mostly well thought out and unique, with each bringing something new to the table. Some are clearly better than others, as I found the Detective Peach to be a little flat due to the very rudimentary nature of the sleuthing puzzles and the steady gameplay mechanics and pacing that it presented. On the other hand, the Ninja Peach actually delivered quite thrilling and fun stealth sections and platforming elements. The powers don't even need to have combat or action-based qualities baked into them to feel fun either, as the peaceful Patisserie Peach and her baking mini-games ended up being one of my highlights of the entire game. The point is, Nintendo has done a solid job in this game at creating and defining differing powers and then tying them to levels that feel unique and a reflection of the stage plays you should find them in. It's not a clear home run, but there's a lot to love.

Princess Peach: Showtime!Princess Peach: Showtime!
Princess Peach: Showtime!

The levels in Showtime do lack a bit of the complexity that you find in the more traditional Mario platformers, mind you. There are a bunch of Sparkle Stars to gather in each level, with these usually tied to core level objectives with some found by wandering a little off the beaten path. But, aside from also finding a special NPC in each level who rewards Peach with collectible Ribbons, there is really not that much else to do within each of the respective levels. Granted, there are some side activities to tackle, such as mini-games relating to newly acquired powers, but these are only fleeting additions, once again affirming that the complexity and depth you found in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, for example, isn't exactly translated and also found here.

Yet, Nintendo hasn't slacked on its visuals and art direction, nor its soundtrack, or the way that this game further makes Peach standout as a grand and iconic character that should be the focal point of more projects in the future. There is basic platformer brilliance in this game, and many differing elements that could serve as a basis for future Peach spinoff experiences. It doesn't always stick the landing, and it has vices with some of its level design and ways it tries to incorporate gameplay mechanics, but Showtime also reminds me just how fantastic of a character Peach is, in the same way that Luigi's Mansion is a great point of reference for the potential of Mario's verdant brother.

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Despite the fact that Princess Peach: Showtime! has some brilliant elements and is effortlessly fun, it is clear that it feels like a safer and more rudimentary offering from Nintendo. But, for younger folk or those less familiar with gaming or the world of Mario, there is heaps of fun to be had with this game, and veterans of the series will no doubt find themselves with a big grin plastered across their face watching Peach excel as the headline act in this standalone title. Hopefully Nintendo will see this game as the starting point for more Peach projects, because she deserves to be in the limelight more and definitely has the ability and charm to carry a game by herself.

07 Gamereactor UK
7 / 10
+
Solid level themes and design. Brilliant and varied Sparkle powers and abilities. Effortlessly fun. Peach thrives as the headline act. Ideal for newcomers and youngsters alike.
-
Bit too rudimentary at times. Some of the powers leave a little to be desired. Could do with additional and extra content to keep players entertained.
overall score
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Princess Peach: Showtime!Score

Princess Peach: Showtime!

REVIEW. Written by Ben Lyons

The Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom takes centre stage as the headline act in this creative and fun platformer.



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