Well, they did it. The fools finally did it. Nintendo has finally given Princess Peach a sword. Oh, and a game! A whole game!
Okay, I guess she’s technically had one before. Both a sword (in Smash Bros.) and a game (Super Princess Peach). But this one is different. For starters, just look at her. Peach looks amazing in her swordfighting outfit, and her detective garb, and her chef suit, and everything else. She’s not just regular royalty, she’s fashion royalty.
But that’s not why I’m so over the moon for Princess Peach: Showtime! I’m stoked because based on what we’ve seen so far, it looks like Nintendo has finally, finally figured out exactly what was needed to give Princess Peach an adventure all her own. It only took nearly 40 years.
Nintendo has long known it needed to give Peach a spotlight, but has struggled to figure out just what that looks like. And simply pasting Peach as the protagonist in another Mario-like platformer has been out of the question especially in recent years. It’s one thing to make a Super Luigi Bros. U as a bit when Luigi already does almost everything his brother does. But Nintendo has also successfully managed to give Luigi and Wario their own spin-off series that make use of their unique characterizations. Luigi, the brave coward, has shone in the exploration-puzzler Luigi’s Mansion games, while Wario just makes sense as the Taskmaster-esque mascot for Wario Ware. With those two series going strong (both featured in the same Direct), anything less for actual Mushroom Kingdom royalty would have seemed like a pathetic consolation prize for Peach fans.
So what is a Peach game? I’m glad it’s not whatever Super Princess Peach was. The 2005 DS platformer reviewed well at the time, but it wasn’t lost on anyone that Super Princess Peach was basically a Mario game but easier with an emphasis on Peach’s emotional powers. You know, a girl game. A softer, lighter Mario. Not really the 2023 energy we need to see coming from Her Highness, especially after her Bowser-butt-kicking attitude in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. But what? What should they then do with Princess Peach? What genre can Peach make wholly her own without falling into weird stereotyping, while still staying true to her character?
Nintendo’s answer is delightfully Nintendo, which is to say, delightfully unconventional. Peach gets all genres. She’s an action game. A puzzler-mystery. A fighting game. An arcade-style cooking game. And many more. It just makes sense that Peach would get really into acting, right? Being a full-time princess in a kingdom as weird and fraught as the Mushroom Kingdom is almost a performance unto itself. And Peach has proven over the years that she’s capable of adapting to whatever the situation needs. Sometimes she needs to sit in the castle and keep the Toads in order, and sometimes she puts on the golf cleats, and sometimes she pretends to marry Bowser only to demolish him both physically and emotionally at the last minute.
While I can’t speak for the whole game just yet, my hope is that this newfound, all-encompassing power Peach has embraced is as much a feminist triumph as it looks to be on the surface. After all, Princess Peach: Showtime! gives Peach the magic to demonstrate a power she’s had all along: the power to become anything her heart desires, and succeed at it. She’s all things, because she can do all things.
And you know who hasn’t been anywhere near any of these trailers so far? Mario. Good! Keep him out. He’s got his own games, lots of them. The Toads can hang, they’re pals, and maybe Rosalina or Daisy wants to stop by. But I genuinely want to see Nintendo make a game where Peach is defined only by herself, and not by labels like Mario’s love interest, Mario’s damsel, Mario’s princess. I don’t even want her to be Mario’s savior! There’s no need! She can just be Peach! I want to see Peach’s identity when she’s separated from her iconic pink dress, her softness, her royalty, and her plumber. Princess Peach: Showtime! is the perfect opportunity for Peach to be her own, theatrical self, trying on costumes to see what suits her, thriving in all of them, and concluding with a bow on a stage all her own.
Give me Peach, with a sword, without Mario, and then give me as many sequels as our pal Luigi gets. Our princess — no, our QUEEN — deserves them all.
Rebekah Valentine is a senior reporter for IGN. Got a story tip? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.