Backlog Review: Princess Peach: Showtime!

So much creativity that never reaches its full potential.

By Angela Marrujo Fornaca. Posted 05/14/2024 14:21 Comment on this     ShareThis
The Final Grade
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Stages and transformations are clearly the result of a ton of creativity; lots of alternate dresses for Peach are fun to collect
Poison Mushroom for...
Some stages are very plodding or uninteresting; the game's overall difficulty level is incredibly low while boss fights provide the only challenge; graphical issues

Welcome to another Backlog Review, where we take a look at an older game that fans might have sitting waiting to be played or are still considering giving a purchase. This time we’re looking at Prince Peach: Showtime!

Princess Peach isn’t a stranger to the spotlight. She was the star of her own adventure in 2005’s Super Princess Peach on Nintendo DS, which saw her traveling to Vibe Island to rescue Mario and Luigi from the clutches of Bowser. It took 19 years for Peach to step back into the role of leading lady, in Princess Peach: Showtime! for Nintendo Switch — and she’s done it in style. This time, Peach is tying up her hair and trying on 10 different personas to save the day.

Showtime! begins with Peach and her Toads taking a trip to the Sparkle Theater for a show and a vacation. The people of this remote locale are called Theets and, while somewhat generic looking, resemble the blinking lights of a theater marquee. The theater hosts a number of floors and stages with all sorts of shows, and the Sparklas are the stars of each show. However, shortly after Peach arrives at Sparkle Theater, the sorceress Grape appears to spread misery. She attacks the theater and blasts out all of the Toads and Peach’s crown, seals the doors, and imprisons the Sparklas in the basement. Her minions, who refer to her as Madame Grape, then crash all of the plays, creating chaos for the actors.

Peach soon meets Stella, guardian of the theater imbued with the power of Sparkle, who then shares this power with Peach and joins her on her quest to rid the theater of Grape and her minions. By invoking Sparkle, Peach can do a basic twirl attack to either attack or repel enemies, cheer up sad, anxious, or defeated Theets, or interact with her environment like causing plants to grow. In her basic form, Peach isn’t particularly strong or interesting to control — it’s not until she transforms into the star of the play that she shines.

There are 10 transformations for Peach: Cowgirl, Dashing Thief, Detective, Figure Skater, Kung Fu, Mermaid, Mighty, Ninja, Patissiere, and Swordfighter. I was really impressed with the designs for each of these costumes and thought they were all incredibly cute; it’s clear the devs put a lot of thought and care into them, from the clothes themselves to Peach’s movements while wearing them. Her abilities are very different from one transformation to the next and are implemented in really creative ways. There are more straightforward combat abilities, like the Swordfighter, Ninja, Kung Fu, and Mighty. Then there are the non-combat transformations, like the Figure Skater, Detective, Mermaid, and Patissiere, and the ones that are somewhere in between: Cowgirl and Dashing Thief.

All of Peach’s combat transformations fight differently, with the Ninja using kunai for fast dash attacks, the Kung Fu fighter using fists and kicks, the Swordfighter wielding a rapier, and Mighty in a mech-inspired costume that gives Peach super strength and flight abilities. The stages that focused on these transformations were the most interesting and fun to play. The non-combat stages were somewhat boring, simple, and felt a bit half-baked, especially the Figure Skater — just jump and spin on the ice at the right time.

Patissiere offered some fun timed challenges that tested your baking and frosting skills, while the Detective stages were slow, plodding brain teasers that weren’t too difficult but also weren’t very engaging. The Mermaid was interesting and very Disney-inspired, in that it requires the player to sing to attract a group of fish that you then control to interact with things in the environment. But, like the Detective, it’s slow-going and it didn’t do a great job of initially making it clear how to control the fish. Finally, the Cowgirl had some great, western-movie-inspired horseback and lasso action, while the Dashing Thief was puzzle-focused but never really grabbed my interest.

Regardless of Peach’s transformation, all actions are done with the B button (except jumping with A). Combined with the fact that the game is really simple — too simple — I was left feeling a little underwhelmed and under-challenged while playing. This game wasn’t marketed as a kid’s game (and by kid’s game I mean Hello Kitty/Barbie game levels of difficulty), yet it absolutely plays like one. There’s no complexity to the controls, and while Peach’s abilities are mostly cool, they just don’t feel as fleshed out as they could. You’re not going to be doing backflips, hand stands, and wall kicks like Mario, you’re going to be spamming one button most of the time.

Peach feels massively OP compared to her enemies, which are no threat. The only threats are some of the bosses, which are the highlights of the game in both creativity and and challenge. They were the only times in the game where I felt that I had a potential for dying and in which Peach didn’t feel like that one episode of Seinfeld where Kramer is beating up little kids in a karate class. But the “difficulty” spike in the boss fights was confusing, because a little kid would probably have a tough time with a couple of them in particular, leaving me wondering who exactly this game was made for.

Peach’s OP nature seems to be tied in part to a little bit of some girl boss-ness I wasn’t really digging. It was clear they wanted to position Peach as the strong female lead; throughout the plays, Theets will cheer her on and tell her how strong and amazing she is. It actually reminds me of the flowers in Super Mario Bros. Wonder, which Takashi Tezuka claims exist solely to be the player’s hype men. So perhaps the Theets are meant to serve the same purpose here, but combined with Peach’s one-shot KOs on most enemies, it just felt like the game was leaning a little too hard into the “Peach is a strong woman” message. We know she’s strong. She’s been strong and capable for decades. But making her game incredibly easy kind of undermines the idea of her being a strong lead.


It was nice seeing the game lean into Peach’s princess side with some of her graceful animations, especially in her standard form. But for some reason, her English voice actress sounds much more like Rosalina than Peach and her usual higher pitch has been brought down a few tones. It seems almost like someone thought that in order for her to be taken seriously, she needed to sound more “mature” (because soft-spoken women who like to wear pink are mutually exclusive with strength, I guess?), but just ended up making her sound like a totally different character rather than herself.

Visually, the game looks very pretty at times, and the stages for each play are wonderful set pieces with neat little touches. I liked finding the secret areas that would take you beneath the stage, where the sound got much quieter and there were small details like stage props in storage. Unfortunately, there are moments where the visuals are incredibly choppy and slow, particularly the loading screens at the start of each stage, and it just felt really unacceptable.

The final boss fight with Grape was visually pretty cool, with Peach transforming first into Radiant Peach and then into Super Radiant Peach (definitely some Sailor Moon and Super Sailor Moon vibes happening there). But again, the fight felt incredibly lopsided in Peach’s favor and simple, as all you really had to do was keep aiming her massive beam of light at Grape and dodging attacks mid-air. It also wasn’t really clear why Grape was the antagonist of this story or what her motivations were. Granted, Mario games aren’t exactly bastions of strong storytelling, but Grape is a pretty weak enemy that doesn’t have any compelling reason for appearing.

One cool feature of the game is the dress shop, where you can buy dresses for Peach or ribbons for Stella. They’re purely cosmetic, but Peach’s dresses are all themed after the different plays and bosses. The dress I liked the most, a two-toned orange dress with a dragon on the skirt that was themed after the Kung Fu stages, only became available post-game. That was a little disappointing, but collecting all the dresses and ribbons was a fun objective.

Princess Peach: Showtime! had the potential to be much more than it is. It’s upsetting that it’s so simple and easy, and feels like a waste of the sheer amount of creativity that went into the concept of the theater, plays, and costumes. It’s that creativity that’s preventing me from giving this game a lower score. But on the merits of its gameplay alone (and the fact that it’s not a very long game — I completed it in about 15 hours), this isn’t Nintendo’s strongest showing.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Log In 0 points Log in or register to grow your Ninja Score while interacting with our site.
Nintendojo's RSS Feeds

All Updates Podcast
News Comments
Like and follow usFacebookTwitter Friend Code Exchange + Game with Us Join the Team!