Princess Peach Showtime! Review: Not quite gaming royalty

Princess Peach: Showtime! is full of good ideas and some very sparkly visuals, but beneath the surface it’s an all-too-plain game – and that’s a crying shame.

Pros Cons
Beautiful presentation Some clunky controls
Wide variety of gameplay styles Some styles feel underdeveloped
Not too tricky for younger players Simple play style doesn’t invite replayability

Score: 3/5


Princess Peach: Showtime! Buy Princess Peach: Showtime! Buy On Amazon

Disclaimer: This review is based off a physical copy provided by Nitendo some months after the game’s release. No, I’m not sure why either, but the site title reads “Alex Reviews Tech”, so here we go…

By and large, Princess Peach’s job involves being a plot device, typically being kidnapped by Bowser in order to be rescued.

Yes, Nintendo has involved the Mushroom Kingdom’s most famous royal (King Toadstool/Mushroom King kinda-sorta-maybe-exists, but she’s basically the actual royalty for the kingdom… but I digress) in some more depth in select games – most notably the Paper Mario games – but otherwise she’s essentially Mario’s love interest first and foremost, though I still hold to the belief that Mario may in fact be a zombie… But there I go digressing and being just a touch heretical with it.

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

Colour printing has yet to be invented in the Mushroom Kingdom, apparently.

Still, it’s rare that Princess Peach gets her own video game outing without a sign of Mario – the last time was 2005’s Super Princess Peach, a game that saw Princess Peach defeat an array of platforming enemies through the power of… emotions. No, really, Nintendo went there for a very plain and altogether too easy title.

As such, my expectations for Princess Peach Showtime! were not high, because Nintendo doesn’t seem all that invested in the Princess as her own character, and even when it does, it’s in rather bland efforts.

I certainly can’t accuse Princess Peach Showtime! of being bland. It’s amongst the most colourful and sparkly games you can buy on the Nitendo Switch by far, though this won’t necessarily sit well with anyone who has light sensitivity or epilepsy issues. Princess Peach Showtime! has a lot of sparkle, because that’s very much the point of the game.

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

If you’re sensitive to flashing lights, then this REALLY isn’t the game for you.

On a visit to the Sparkle Theater, the Princess is caught up in the machinations of Madame Grape and the Sour Bunch, a fairly generic set of Mario-esque enemies who have taken over the theatre’s many stages from the native Theet population.

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

Somewhere, Sting is considering calling in his lawyers.

It’s just a guess, but at some point the Theet are likely to take off for space in a future game, because the similarities between them and Pikmin’s Captain Olimar are a little hard for my brain to process. But there I go again, digressing. Back to the action!

The action in Princess Peach Showtime! revolves around Peach travelling to a variety of levels, represented by doors that lead to themed stages where she dons an appropriate outfit – Cowgirl, Mermaid, Ninja, Kung Fu and so on – each of which grant her specific powers to take on that level’s challenges.

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

The Ninja Peach levels are amongst the game’s very best.

The visual style here is quite lovely, with attention to detail specifically on the fact that you’re playing in a theatre, whether that’s the way that lighting works, or that flying elements are clearly on strings, or the wooden eels and turtles that inhabit the underwater mermaid levels.

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

You can see the strings on the wooden horse — and that’s 100% deliberate.

Nintendo’s own first-party output is typically very nicely visually polished, and Princess Peach Showtime! is no exception… at a visual level.

The main issue that I have with Princess Peach Showtime! is that while it’s visually polished, the same level of attention to detail sadly wasn’t taken in terms of game balancing and controls. Each level challenges you to find Sparkle Gems – they’re needed to unlock later levels and boss fights – and how you do this depends on the level and its costume-specific needs.

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

Umm… Princess Peach? You might want to look behind you…

Sadly, not all of these are created equal. For example Ninja Peach is quite fun – if a little simple – to run through her platform-specific levels, with a nice mix of easy combat and simple stealth sections sprinkled liberally within, while the Patisserie Peach levels are rather more tedious thanks to less-than-refined controls.

There’s a gambit towards replayability as you might not find every Sparkle Gem on your first runthrough, especially for automatic scrolling levels where they can zip by if you choose the wrong part of the screen to be on at a specific time, but my issue here is that unlike the slightly broader creativity of a mainline Mario game, Princess Peach Showtime! really only has one solution to each Sparkle Gem problem.

Trying to go off-track or find innovative solutions isn’t the game here, and will just lead to failing… though typically that’s just failing to get that one specific Sparkle Gem.

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

How I handle this… is with the one way that the game will let me, and no other.

The other issue here is one of difficulty. Princess Peach Showtime! is not a hard game, making it far better suited to much younger gamers or parents wanting a game that they can “play” with younger kids, taking over if the youngster’s having problems with a specific section as needed.

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

There’s definitely scope for family fun here… for a little while.

As noted Nintendo sent me a physical copy some months after release (for the record I had asked for review code at the time, it wasn’t a total surprise), but I whipped through the entire game in a very light weekend of on-again-off-again gaming.

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

Princess Peach: Showtime! is a game that you can skate through very quickly indeed.

I’ve not grabbed every single Sparkle Gem – I’ve got about half of them – but with no specific “best” ending or similar in return for hitting 100%, just decorations for the theater and a few more dresses for Peach the game sadly lacks that “one more go” factor, especially when the “one more go” will involve going through most of a level just to do the one brief task or hunt for a missing Sparkle Gem.

Princess Peach: Showtime!: Alex’s Verdict

Princess Peach Showtime! (Screenshot)

Is it a cut above the rest? Sadly no…

It’s pretty easy to see what Nintendo was going for with Princess Peach: Showtime!

The idea of mixing up play styles and costumes isn’t an entirely new one (my retro gaming brain goes to games like Dynamite Headdy or The Magical Quest Starring Mickey Mouse), because it does give the game plenty of variety. One minute you’re a cowgirl chasing a speeding train, the next you’re mixing cookies to feed a horde of cute Theet zombies before becoming a Ninja and infiltrating a classic Japanese castle setting.

Princess Peach: Showtime! is charming to look at, but it’s ultimately a bit dull through simplicity, and also through some of the play styles needing just a little more refinement.

It’s not, to be clear, that short games or even easy games are bad just for being short or easy. Some of my favourite games of all time are those that can be cleared simply or with minimal play time.

However, Princess Peach: Showtime! is a premium-priced game for the Switch – basically all of Nintendo’s first-party output trends that way – and even for the younger gamers, I could see its sparkle dimming just that bit too soon.

I’d love to see a fully fleshed out version of this where I could change up the Princess’ costuming on the fly, making her a more realised platform (and mini-game) character. There’s a heap of good ideas in Princess Peach: Showtime!, but I don’t really feel like it’s a game that I’ll return to any time soon – and for a game in the broader Mario series, that’s a true rarity.

Princess Peach: Showtime!: Pricing and availability

Princess Peach: Showtime! is available now for the Nintendo Switch with an RRP of $79.95.

Princess Peach: Showtime! Buy Princess Peach: Showtime! Buy On Amazon

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