Not Peachy Enough

Why Nintendo needs to reintroduce everyone’s favorite video game princess in a big way, and why Super Princess Peach stinks.

By Carter Fagan. Posted 11/05/2010 11:01 4 Comments     ShareThis

Not Peachy Enough Art

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.

2D Platformer

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.)

3D Platformer

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.

Peach and Rosalina

RPG

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.

Paper PeachGuess 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!

4 Responses to “Not Peachy Enough”

  • 225 points
    wombatguy880 says...

    She’s a good fighter in the Smash Brothers titles. She assists Mario in cool ways in the Paper Mario series. She actually has a great game with a few original ideas. The truth is that she is a princess to be rescued in the series and it’s no more her fault than it is Mario’s fault that bowser isn’t dead with his head mounted on a wall in the castle. I honestly think this is evidence that the gaming media focuses on the retarded. The games and mostly gameplay are what is important. The story of who the princess is or could become shouldn’t be. It’s possible to make it cooler but they’ve done that with Zelda and even to some degree Samus.

    Samus is a good example though she’s getting tortured now for “story” despite an amazing game beneath. It sucks that she walks in fire before getting a hail that it’s ok to use her weapons but up until that point she was just taking orders from the law and you know what else if that silly plot element didn’t exist you’d still be walking through fire to find the suit anyways because it’s a staple of the series but that is all forgotten because someone tried to make a story. I won’t excuse the whole thing and I’m not trying to apologize for a bad story but the truth is when we focus on these elements great games and great gameplay often get lost in the crossfire.

    Princess Peach didn’t just play the emotion card to make a statement about girls. It did it so that it could be somehow original from the other platformers that nintendo already makes and makes relatively well. Kirby, Mario, and Wario were already there. Nintendo just wanted something that set the game apart. It’s not nintendos fault that most girls do fall into the feeling or emotional dichotomy when it comes to psychology though.

    Thumb up 0
  • 1 points
    Kevin Knezevic says...

    I liked your article, but you forgot about Super Paper Mario. :O

    Even though she was really just a supporting character, you could switch to Peach and play as her at any time, and she was even necessary to complete certain levels because she could do things the other characters couldn’t.

    Not to mention she was the only one who could defeat this boss: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnt72FGWA6A&feature=related

    XD

    Thumb up 0
  • 93 points
    Francisco Naranjo says...

    I personally think Super Princess Peach was a pretty fun platformer. Also, the emotion thing applied to anyone in Vibe Island, including goombas and koopa troopas. It was easy, but not insultingly easy I think. That, and I’m biased because I’m a Peach fanboy.

    Thumb up 0

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