Super Princess Peach
Mario games have a tendency of creating spinoffs which send the series in a different direction. Several examples of those are Super Mario Kart, Super Mario World 2 (which spun-off into many Yoshi games with the same mechanics) and Luigi’s Mansion.
Even Toad received a game all his own with Captain Toad Treasure Tracker.
Those are some examples of the many Mario series sister titles out there, but none is more of a sister to the series than a game starring the usual damsel in distress: Super Princess Peach.
Despite being one of the best-selling Nintendo DS games of all-time, I often receive blank stares when mentioning this title. I have a feeling it’s because the game was a departure from the main Super Mario Bros. gameplay much more akin to the American version of Super Mario 2, rather than the aforementioned titles, as it is still a platformer at heart which features many changes from your standard Mario gameplay, but not enough to be entirely memorable or groundbreaking.
The game begins with Peach venturing to Vibe Island, in a reversal of roles, to rescue Mario and Luigi. The island consists of your usual worlds (eight of them) featuring six levels and a boss level. For completionists, each level also has three toads to find/rescue which also factors into unlocking further levels/items. Mario fans will recognize many of the games characters, and of course, the usual protagonists: Kamek and Bowser.
Much of the style is also ripped straight from Super Mario World (including the infamous Ghost Houses), giving this game a mixed vibe (pun intended) of a mash-up of Mario games. I feel as if the developers wanted to mix several of these games together to create a new genre, however, I feel as if they failed to do so in the end product.
The game is colorful and fairly faithful to Mario lore. The departure comes from Peach’s use of a parasol (umbrella in laymen’s terms) which harkens back to her ability to “float” in Mario 2. Rather than use super mushrooms or fire flowers, Peach has four “emotions” which are needed to clear certain objectives. Those emotions are joy, gloom, rage and calm, all with different abilities.
For example, rage sets her on fire and allows her to stomp through certain blocks. With gloom, Peach sheds tears that can put out fires.
Those abilities are activated using the bottom screen of the DS, and when used, drain a special meter that must be refilled in order to use the special abilities.
Otherwise, without the powerups found in traditional Mario games, Peach reverts to hearts, a throwback to how Mario 2 operated with life versus death.
But one thing is fairly straightforward: it’s impossible to get a game over in Super Princess Peach. There are no “lives” and you simply restart a level over if you fail. In this way, the game feels setup for younger players, but there’s enough of a challenge in just the quirks of how this platformer operates to give it some gusto for more experienced hands.
Another nod to other games in the series occurs when “Perry” (the parasol – get it?) turns into a sub, can hook on zipless, or is used as a raft: any Yoshi players will recognize these side features while the sub feels like something straight out of the Game Boy’s Super Mario Land.
Overall the game isn’t necessarily great, but it’s not terrible by any means either. I believe most players would approach this game expecting Peach to run and jump as she did in Mario 2: and those who do will be sadly disappointed.
For others, there’s a new adventure in rescuing the Mario Bros. to give this a shot. But fair warning: it’s a game that’s very easy to complete with very little replay value. After you muscle through some of the longer, more boring stages, you will likely see why this game never received a proper follow up.