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Princess Peach: Showtime! review – A pretty, but safe, outing for Nintendo

Princess Peach: Showtime! screenshot
Image: Nintendo

Finally, Princess Peach gets her time to shine. Rather than being Mario’s simpering princess, this time she’s headlining her own game in Princess Peach: Showtime!. And while it might be lacking real substance, this is an attractive and fun platforming romp that will put a smile on your face.

It goes like this: Princess Peach’s trip to the theatre is thwarted when a masked villain takes over. All of the actors have been kidnapped, and Peach finds herself locked inside the theatre. Somehow, it’s up to her to save the day: she must transform into the leading role in each play, save the actors and, ultimately, take down the big bad who’s terrorising the theatre.

It’s a bit of a ridiculous premise, then, but somehow, it works. Levels are bite-sized in Princess Peach: Showtime!, taking around 10 minutes to complete, and each one is very different from the last for one big reason: Peach takes on the form of the actors she’s trying to save. One minute you’re a swashbuckling swordswoman, the next you’re a ninja. Or maybe you’re a master baker, tasked with making the best, most beautiful cakes. Or how about a superhero, fighting bad guys with superhuman strength?

Princess Peach: Showtime! screenshot
Image: Nintendo

Peach can take on 10 different forms in total and although you’ll revisit the same forms more than once, they’re generally mixed up in order to keep things feeling fresh. It’s not just a different outfit, either: with each different role, Peach gains new skills, and the levels take different forms. As a baker, for example, levels are more concerned with decorating cakes than platforming. And as a kung fu master, Peach will be spending her time artfully kicking her way through enemies. Being a ninja, on the other hand, means hiding in the shadows, sneaking, and striking when the time is right.

Related: The 6 best Super Mario Games, according to sales figures

Many of Peach’s roles put emphasis on timing, actually. Sword fighting requires you to parry, and so you’ll need to watch out for enemies’ incoming attacks before striking. And as a thief, you’ll need to dodge search lights, sneaking by at the opportune time so as not to get caught. After every few levels, you’ll need to take on a boss, with each one being notably different from the rest. Many of them take a little bit of trial and error to figure out, but like traditional platforming bosses, typically you’ll need to dodge attacks before striking. Repeat two or three times, and then they’re downed.

Nothing is particularly difficult, though, and even if you do get hit by an enemy or caught during a stealth section, you won’t exactly be punished. Instead, you’ll merely be taken back just a few seconds in a level. For the most part, then, playing through Princess Peach: Showtime! is a laid-back experience, the sort of thing you’ll enjoy most in small, bite-size play sessions.

Princess Peach: Showtime! screenshot
Image: Nintendo

We must say that it looks wonderful. Each of Peach’s outfits has been brilliantly designed, but it’s the environments that really shine. Each one has been designed to resemble an actual play, where everything is merely a prop. Building fronts can be nothing more than cardboard cut-outs then, as can foliage like trees and bushes. It gives it a feel of Yoshi’s Woolly Wood and while it’s perhaps not quite as adorable, it still looks great.

Perhaps our biggest bugbear with Princess Peach: Showtime! is not so much with the gameplay itself but with the premise. With Peach taking on the role of multiple actors in the game, rather than simply being herself, it suggests that she’s only capable of fighting bad guys if it’s make-believe. Why couldn’t the Mushroom Kingdom be in danger on Mario and Luigi’s day off, instead? Come on, Nintendo, let’s show little girls that they can be just as kick-ass as their male counterparts, and not just because they’ve got a part in a play.

Princess Peach: Showtime! feels like a safe release from Nintendo, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing: it’s fun, it’s inventive, and it looks wonderful. Its quirky level designs and Peach’s range of fancy costumes will no doubt put a smile on your face but ultimately, there’s little more here than that — a pretty, if shallow, Nintendo adventure that’s best played in 30-minute bursts.

Princess Peach: Showtime! review – GameSpew’s score

This review of Princess Peach: Showtime! has been facilitated by a code provided by the game’s publisher. It’s available exclusively on Nintendo Switch.
Editor in chief // Kim's been into video games since playing Dizzy on her brother's Commodore 64 as a nipper. She'll give just about anything a go, but she's got a particular soft spot for indie adventures. If she's not gaming, she'll be building Lego, reading a thriller, watching something spooky or... asleep. She does love to sleep.