Remember The Year of Luigi? You know, that last-ditch effort marketing campaign Nintendo rolled out back in 2013 when not much else was going on for the company? To be fair, some solid games came out of The Year of Luigi, like New Super Luigi U and Dr. Luigi, but all the Luigi spin-offs and re-skins in the world couldn’t save Nintendo from losing over $400 million in 2013 when it was all said and done. The Year of Luigi remains an unintentionally hilarious footnote from a completely different era of Nintendo, and poor Mr. L never deserved to get wrapped up in one of the biggest Ls in company history. It goes without saying that Nintendo hasn’t really attempted another marketing campaign like this since.

Nintendo finds itself in a very different financial situation today compared to a decade ago, and it’s not in a place where it needs to rely on gimmicks to succeed; Nintendo Switch and its games speak for themselves. But, if Nintendo did put a label on the last 12 months, I’m confident they’d call it The Year of Peach. From her prominent role in The Super Mario Bros. Movie to finally starring in a new standalone game, Nintendo’s giving Peach more attention than ever before, and frankly, it’s long overdue. So this year on Mario Day, I’m asking the popular plumber to step aside and embrace the Mushroom Kingdom’s fearless leader finally getting her well-deserved moment in the spotlight.

Over the past several decades, Peach has been kidnapped, sidelined, and nearly forced into marrying Bowser while other characters have hogged all the starring roles. Yes, Peach is a staple of ensemble games like Mario Kart, Mario Party, and Super Smash Bros., but I’ve always felt Peach has been underutilized while other side characters like Luigi, Donkey Kong, Wario, Yoshi, and even the pathetic (but lovable!) Captain Toad got games of their own. For the sheer amount of games Nintendo releases that take place in the Mushroom Kingdom, it’s been surprising that we’ve lacked a standalone game starring the franchise’s leading lady.

But that changed last summer when Nintendo revealed Princess Peach: Showtime, the first solo adventure for the character since 2006, and only the second overall. While it remains to be seen how the game will turn out, it’s undeniably cool that Showtime appears to exist entirely as its own thing, completely separate from the rest of the Mario universe. As my colleague Rebekah Valentine put it, “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.” While we still don’t know for certain if Mario will rear his mustachioed head in Showtime, for the time being it seems like that wish is coming true, and it’s fantastic to see Nintendo adding a Peach-focused adventure to its extensive lineup of Mario games, detached from the traditions and expectations of the mainline series.

Princess Peach: Showtime isn’t the only reason that we’re living in The Year of Peach. Last year, Princess Peach was one of the most important characters in The Super Mario Bros. Movie, as Nintendo and Illumination smartly flipped Peach and Luigi’s traditional roles, sending Peach and Mario on an adventure to save the captive Luigi. Peach had as much screen time as anyone in the film, and it felt right seeing her front-and-center rather than trapped in yet another castle.

Following this, Peach was a fully playable character in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, and it was about time. Growing up playing the New Super Mario Bros. games with my older sister, we never understood why cookie cutter characters like Blue and Yellow Toad were included rather than recognizable fan-favorite characters like Peach and Daisy, and Super Mario Bros. Wonder finally delivered a fleshed-out roster of characters where you can play through the entire game as anyone you like, no Mario required. Credit goes to Super Mario 3D World for doing this more than 10 years ago, but I loved seeing Super Mario Bros. Wonder take the idea and run with it.

Just a month after Super Mario Bros. Wonder came Super Mario RPG. This remake of the SNES classic features Princess Peach as a party member, and playing out turn-based battles with a crew of Peach, Mario, and Bowser was just as exciting in 2023 as I’m sure it was in the original Super Nintendo version. And later this year, Nintendo will release a remake of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, which includes an extremely memorable storyline centered around Princess Peach, including some dedicated segments where she is highlighted as the playable character. I can’t wait for Nintendo fans who missed the GameCube original to see how awesome Peach is in The Thousand-Year Door, which I consider to be one of her coolest appearances ever.

There’s never been a better time to be a Princess Peach fan, and I hope Nintendo continues its efforts to build out her blossoming corner of the Mushroom Kingdom. If all goes well, Princess Peach: Showtime will be just the first of many solo Peach games to come, and one of Nintendo’s most iconic characters will manage to reach Nintendo fans young and old in entirely new ways. Move over Mario Day, because this is the unofficial Year of Peach, and I’m completely here for it.

Logan Plant is IGN’s Database Manager, Playlist Editor, occasional news writer, and frequent Super Ninfriendo on Nintendo Voice Chat. Find him on Twitter @LoganJPlant.



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