Super Princess Peach Review
I remember the very first video game that I ever played. We were living down in Parris Island, SC in late 1985 and my parents went to the local Service Merchandise and bought me an original NES. They had purchased Super Mario Brothers along with the system. To this day, I still have fond memories of reading the book, thinking a goomba was a 1-up mushroom and running into it three times in a row to a game over.
I never thought that, over 20 years later, I'd still be video gaming like I was then. Just a few days ago, I picked up a platformer from Nintendo, Super Princess Peach. See, after over 20 years, Bowser finally figured out how to capture Mario instead of the Princess. You'd think he would have figured that one out by now, but hey. No big deal, though - Mario and Luigi aren't the only heroes in the Mushroom Kingdom.
Enter Princess Peach, the damsel in distress Mario and/or Luigi have been rescuing for over 20 years. Peach has shown her ability to fight in the past in the Smash Brothers series and, while she doesn't bring along a frying pan in this game, she does have an...umbrella. You're going to, through the game, have an umbrella that will be able to float through the air, pound enemies into dust and even turn into a submarine.
Super Princess Peach definitely does a lot right. First of all, Nintendo did a great job of capturing the essence of 20 years of Mario games - it really felt like it belonged in the series as opposed to a totally different game that didn't fit. You'll get a chance to face off against Mario's favorite enemies - goombas, piranha plants and koopa troopas all make an appearance in Princess Peach. You'll still collect coins, jump down pipes and bust blocks by jumping into them.
The graphics and choice of color also feel like they fit well in the Mushroom Kingdom - the colors and graphical style are upbeat and lively. You'll have your traditional water world, a forest area and a set of fire levels among other traditional Mario-type worlds. While the enemies all look like they always have, they now show emotions through animations such as crying or blowing steam out of their ears. The small touches in the animations of the enemies were nice, particularly the stomping goomba. I loved the look of anger on his face and the way he would stomp the ground.
There've also been some new gameplay elements added to the traditional sidescroller. Instead of collecting mushrooms and flowers to power-up, you'll use your umbrella to eat enemies and fill your 'vibe meter'. See, this vibe meter powers your 'moods' - you can cry, get angry, get really happy or just calm down at the drop of the hat. Each mood will need to be used in certain places - the happy power will help you fly around and make a tornado that will blow away dust, for example. The only problem with this system is that, the first time you see a situation where the power would need to be used, the game essentially tells you to use the power. There's no sort of experimentation there whatsoever, though you can choose to just not hit any of the tip blocks and figure things out for yourself - that's how I did it, at least.
The tip blocks, however, are just a small indication of the biggest problem with the game - it is far too easy to get through. Sure, while Nintendo may have been targeting a younger or more feminine audience with the game, they could have at least added in some more difficulty modes to make the game last longer for those of us that want something that is more difficult. Older Mario games would be easy at first but would get very challenging at the end and have some hidden items that took a ton of skill and a bit of luck to find. Super Princess Peach, on the other hand, never gets much more difficult and you'll rarely, if ever, die. Even if you do die after taking six or more hits, you just start the level over. The 'hidden' items in the game - puzzle pieces and the three Toads - aren't that hidden and you'll even get an indication of when there is a hidden item somewhere on the screen you are in.
The three minigames do add a bit more to the game, though. One of them, Toad Jump, has you blowing into the microphone to make Toad jump over Spinys. I really don't much enjoy using the microphone, though, since I have to take my eyes off of the screens to do so. The second minigame, Toad Tote, is pretty much a game of Operation - you drag Toad through a burning village and try not to light him on fire (unless you think Toad is annoying, of course). The last one you'll find is Toad Shot. This one is like the bug minigame from Wario Ware - you'll touch different point-value enemies on the screen as they fly by in an attempt to score a number of points. Each of these minigames will earn you coins that you can eventually use to unlock more difficult levels of the minigames or to unlock upgrades in the regular game. Sure, they're fun, but only for so long.
The ease of this game doesn't stop it from being fun to play through at least one time. You'll definitely enjoy yourself as you plow through the game, though the experience just won't last for very long at all. If anything, playing this just makes me want the upcoming Mario game so much more.
I'd definitely recommend that you play Super Princess Peach. You're very likely to enjoy it if you are a fan of sidescrollers. This is one journey back to the Mushroom Kingdom that I didn't regret. I just can't help but wonder what could have come of this game if Nintendo had added some more challenging elements in places or made it longer - oh well, there's always the new Mario platformer coming out later this year to answer that question.