The Princess formerly known as Toadstool is always being kidnapped by Bowser and can never learn from her mistakes. In almost every Mario game, she’s the damsel-in-distress, while Mario plays the hero. It must be frustrating for Mario, especially when it looks as if he gets little to nothing in return. Sometimes, though, Peach earns her own time in the limelight as the hero. And by “sometimes,” I mean “twice”: in Super Princess Peach and Super Mario Bros. 2.
Super Princess Peach wasn’t a bad game, per se, but a good game in an extremely easy and sugar-coated package. There was a health system in the game, for pete’s sake– not to mention a mechanic in which Peach has four “emotions” which come into play in different ways. Why doesn’t Mario have emotions in any of his games? Is it because he’s a man? Is Super Princess Peach telling our daughters to respond to certain situations by being “emotional?” Take it how you want it, but it sounds like such a stereotypical characteristic of women on paper also manages to embody itself in-game. The game was basically made for girls, and probably not by girls, and it’s so disappointing (and possibly insulting) that this is what we get after nearly twenty years, instead of a proper role reversal of Peach and Mario. It was clearly targeted at girls, too– with ads like these:
Super Mario Bros. 2, though, which came out nearly twenty years earlier, is evidence that Nintendo could have made a pretty good game starring Peach any time it wanted, without bogging it down or making it easier for children and girls (and if you want my two cents on what Nintendo thinks of children and girls, among old people and soccer moms, refer to this story). Like it or not, Super Mario Bros. 2— albeit no truly, originally a Mario title– was an excellent diversion from the first game, and introduced Mario’s ability to pick up and throw things. There were three other characters, but two of them didn’t matter much anyway. Yeah, that’s cool that you can jump higher as Luigi and pick vegetables and run faster as Toad, but Peach was, in my opinion, the real star of Super Mario Bros. 2. Peach could float. She could float. Peach could also jump the farthest, too.
This makes you wonder why we never saw much of Peach as a protagonist for so long, and when we finally did, it was something of a disappointment. If she can beat Bowser in tennis and whip the tar out of your Marios and Luigis in Super Smash Bros, then she should certainly be able to take on enemies in something like Super Mario Galaxy 2, or at least become playable in one level! Let’s take a look at different ways Nintendo can incorporate their hallmark damsel-in-distress and turn her into something of a badass heroine, like Samus.
As said before, Super Princess Peach focuses too much on the shallow stereotype of women being emotional and not enough on stomping faces into the ground. What if Peach got her own starring role in a 2D Mario, a la New Super Mario Bros.? Her floating ability is something that has not really been replicated (and not added to Mario’s repertoire, if you don’t count F.L.U.D.D. from Sunshine) and would be completely new to many young gamers. Why don’t we just scrap everything that’s bad about Princess Peach and make a better sequel that challenges veterans and welcomes newcomers alike? Come on, Nintendo. Get it done. We know how much you love repackaging old things and making them new again! (Kidding, but I’m totally buying every N64 remake that comes to 3DS.)
Super Mario Galaxy 1 & 2 are really really really amazing games, but how many times do we have to see Peach get captured? Floating along planets with Peach would be just as appealing as doing the same in 2D. Floating is not all Peach can do, either, if you’ve ever played Smash Bros. In fact, she’s quite the kickass heroine when Nintendo gives her a chance to shine. You know what– forget floating– brawling through hordes of Dry Bones’, Goombas, and Koopas as Peach would be awesome, and quite the stress reliever. Scrap the platforming, too. Just make a Princess Peach beat ‘em up and I’ll buy ten copies.
At the outset of Mario and Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story, gamers receive an introduction to Mario, Luigi, Peach, the toads, the Mushroom Kingdom, Bowser, and “The Blorbs,” a disease that turns toads into giant, lazy gluttons. Bowser, of course, kidnaps Peach, only this time he inhales her, and pretty much every soul residing in her castle, at the same time. It’s a unique approach for a Mario game, courtesy of the great minds at AlphaDream, especially since you play half of the game as Bowser.
Guess what, though? You don’t get to play as Peach. Instead, you get to save her. Boring! Peach is fairly underrepresented in Mario’s role-playing adventures, too. Legend of the Seven Stars saw Peach as a party member, but with no real special abilities that other characters couldn’t do. There are several segments where you play as the princess in Paper Mario, but they feature no real combat, as she’s just sneaking past guards. Will we see a true appearance from Peach in an RPG? You already made Bowser playable, AlphaDream, lets work on Peach, now!
What do you think of Peach’s (lack of a) role in the Super Mario series? Let’s have a discussion in the comments!