Super Princess Peach review
Damsel... Not In Distress?
After countless years of getting kidnapped and requiring a plumber to save the kingdom in lieu of a competent military force Nintendo have seen fit to let the damsel star in her own game. In a nutshell, this game is Mario with the usual DS twist but not as good, leading to an enjoyable adventure.
While playing the game I would advise you to not think of the story too much. Mario games (RPGs aside) don't normally have much of a story. SPP is a little strange in that it tries for a story but just does not make much sense. In the first place it's quite hard to grasp how a princess whose speciality so far has been getting kidnapped via identical methods for years suddenly takes a level in badass and becomes capable of smashing through the entire enemy army by herself with no more than a magic umbrella (and her return to the normal damsel role in later games makes this even more jarring). Then there is a backstory to the umbrella itself that is fed to the player slowly as they complete worlds, which in itself makes little sense even when you have the full details. One can't help but wonder if they ran out of time and had to scramble this part together.
This game does match up with the usual bright colourful bold graphical style that normally sits within the Mario universe. The sprites are large enough to have more than enough clarity and the kind of fantasy inspired designs to bring the land to life with lush landscapes and enemies to fill them with. Typically the worlds within Vibe Island apply all the usual settings one would expect, such as grass and ice worlds, but manage to do so with enough flair to be interesting to travel through. Character sprites are perhaps a notch up over the usual 2D Mario title, if only for the range of emotions everyone has due to the pivotal focus of the game. There's something about seeing a crying goomba dashing around or an angry koopa deciding to charge you on sight. Peach herself naturally gets various emotions and reactions as well.
All this action takes place on the top screen, with the bottom screen showing a large portrait of Peach that changes depending on the situation and the four large vibe icons. The portrait is nicely done when a vibe is active, but it must be noted that the default pose when nothing is happening is, while well done quality wise, can be a little creepy as she stares at the player. The heart based icons for your vibe powers are nicely done and large enough for their purpose.
Music is typical Mario fare. Expect a wide range of cheerful melodies to be played out across every level - yes, even places like dark castles seem to think Peach is on a picnic and provide music to match. Well, it does jive with the general upbeat feeling throughout the game so that's all good. If anything Peach's voice may prove to be a little more irritating than the average fan is used to, especially when using her crying vibe power.
The last time Peach had a starring platformer role it was way back in Super Mario Brothers 2. Aside from being another game entirely dressed up in Mario graphics it was notable in being a more relaxed platformer. SPP seems to take this style and runs with it, by offering us a game that focuses less of precision jumping and more on level adventuring. Level layouts are often tailored to that very ideal, where the ultimate goal being to actually figure out how to reach the goal.
There are a few basic abilities. Jumping is around and it works quite fluidly as you might expect from the series. Two buttons are assigned to swinging the umbrella as an attack, while another can pick up enemies and objects. You also have a button to walk slowly, which really isn't too interesting. Controls for these work fine, although it does take the odd approach of literally assigning jump to the A button, whereas the DS button layout usually means the B button works better. The ability to customise this would have been nice.
Better run - Peach is on the warpath.
Vibe powers play an important role as well. The four heart icons on the touch screen turn Peach's sensitive emotions on and off. More than just demonstrating mood swings are the powers offered by these. Joy lets Peach fly and unleash cyclones. Cry causes Peach to start gushing to water things and run quickly. Rage engulfs Peach in fire and induces earthquakes with each jump. Calm allows her to restore health.
Of the four, Calm isn't actually needed and is more there to help you out when low on life. The others are important to tackling challenges. Thinking about how to deal with a wooden bridge or a platform whose segments fall the moment you step on them will become second nature. Her powers are limited by a vibe gauge that she can refill by either collecting blue gems scattered about or by picking up enemies and having her umbrella swallow them. Makes me wonder who the bigger monster in this game is.
Anyway, it's a nice mechanics that does suffer one problem. While the touch screen setup isn't bad - the icons are huge so hitting them is simple enough - there is still an issue with trying to interact with them while you are required to use the D Pad and action buttons as well. Effectively this means that Peach has to stop for a moment or be unable to access her jumps and attacks in order to switch emotions. It still works well enough but being able to assign actions to some buttons that are relatively unused would have streamlined this.
In fact, the use of the DS features seems entirely half hearted altogether. One ability lets Peach spits bubbles underwater by blowing into a mic - a feature done solely to pretend the mic has a use when it really doesn't offer anything a button press would not have. The route to a boss involves using the touch screen in varying kinds of obstacles courses, which have so little variation that it takes next to no time for them to repeat and really are fairly boring. A few entirely forgettable minigames invoke the touch screen for use as well, but well, I don't care about the games past a few plays.
Enemies and bosses are also affected by emotions. Typically you deal with most enemies both through the classic Mario style of jumping on them, whacking them with the umbrella or picking them up and subsequently throwing or devouring them. Your emotions can help too, like rage can push away some otherwise untouchable enemies or cry can stun some. Enemies themselves are subject to emotions, so expect crying enemies will dash around mindlessly or joyful foes that dance along without a care in the world.
Guess she's happy to be the one doing the rescuing this time.
Bosses may also use emotions, especially as their health is drained, but Peach also has to use her emotions to expose their weak points to attack. Because of this you will typically find gems or generic enemies being thrown into the field just to make sure you have some vibe energy to use and it does make them a bit more interesting and different to the usual boss fight.
The game has a nice life span attached to it. Some levels have a sense of openness about them where you can find alternate routes or offshoot areas to explore. You also have eight worlds with initially six levels each, with an extra three levels that can be unlocked in each area. Each level (sans the boss ones) has a multitude of hidden objects to find such as captured Toads, jigsaw pieces and music tracks. Technically they're not hidden particularly well as I found myself digging them out easily enough but there is some enjoyment out of it and some of the later levels to mix things trickier.
The one thing that may be a downer to most gamers is the difficulty, or lack thereof. Peach opts for a health gauge system in this game. Most obstacles are easy enough to dodge so this in itself is rarely an issue, but then the game loves to throw health pickups in most areas anyway and then the whole Calm vibe (along with more than enough sources of vibe to use it) really seems to make the whole thing a bit pointless. Additionally, the game is a lot more forgiving about failing. "Bottomless pit" falls don't instantly kill Peach but rather knock off a fraction of health and return her to the entrance to the place she fell, though the ease of platforming and the floatbrella ability (a buyable upgrade) already puts this element below other Mario games anyway. Some traps don't even have this consequence and merely send Peach back to the entrance of that area with no health loss. You know there's a problem when you can go straight through the entire game without actually dying.
Super Princess Peach is fun. It's also a nice twist on the usual Mario formula, even if the circumstances makes the head hurt if thought about too much. It is also a step lower from normal Mario games, and the difficulty will play heavily into that. This game is worth it for fans of the series or even people looking for a more laid back platformer so I still recommend adding it to your collection.
Was this review helpful to you?
In order to comment on this user review you must login
About the author
Based on 4 reviewsWrite a review
- bowser is lame 2
- Ladida Plains? 1
- starfish 3
- finished the game... but need help! 2
- ladida plains 1-6 0
- cant beat bowser help me now!!! 2
- End Of Level 777 Coins? 2
- Super Princess Peach: Word Game! 13
- HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 1
- That bottom row of Question marks in the Bonus Menu... 3
- Third missing toad on world 7-5 0
- Third missing toads on worlds 3-2 and 3-5 0