Princess Peach: Showtime is a reminder that Nintendo games are for everyone | Hands-on preview

by on February 26, 2024

Somewhere a six-year old girl is going wild at the thought of Princess Peach: Showtime. Having watched the Mario Bros. movie repeatedly, in which Peach is (at the very least) co-lead, she’s excitedly awaiting the March release of the game, after running around calling her parents Mario and Luigi, with playtime starring her as Peach. She’s driving her lovely parents barmy, though she’s rightly calling Daddy “Luigi”, while Mum is the star, and I’m delighted to tell her (and you) that after spending some time playing Princess Peach: Showtime, it’s a blast.

After being invited to a playhouse, Peach is suddenly embroiled in her own Mario-style adventure, where she has to save everyone. That’s the gist of what’s going on, narratively, here, but it’s in service of the usual “get people playing, quickly”, and in that respect, it works. It looks lovely, and the cut-scenes are animated with the usual panache and guile that you’d expect from Nintendo. But the biggest question I had before picking up a controller is: what kind of game, exactly, is Princess Peach: Showtime?

Princess Peach: Showtime

To break it down, it’s a side-scrolling 2D platformer which borrows from the Mario style collectathons (Odyssey, etc) but uses the Kirby-style gimmick of changing mechanics every level. It feels instantly playable for all, and there are even options within the first hub to make the game easier for younger audiences if you so wish. But what you’ve got here are courses that use each of Peach’s transformations, while keeping the controls very simple.

For example, Swordfighter Peach retains her jump button, but when transformed, adds a sword attack. Balletic dodge animations are all-but automatic, with generous windows in which to hit the jump button, but it looks fabulous on-screen. The simpler of the levels I got to try, Swordfighter Peach is simple fun, and you barrel through the course collecting coins and goodies in order to one-hundred percent it, while the levels themselves are mini-plays. Each level is Peach playing a part, you see, and traveling through them the backgrounds will roll in and out, with the environments changing as you progress.

Princess Peach: Showtime

This is never more prominent than in the Cowgirl level I played. As standard Peach, you can jump around and throw out a magic attack, and it’s with this you can affect trees and the environment to find coins and hidden Sparkle Gems. Cowgirl changes that magic attack into a lasso, and it’s great fun whipping enemies. Mid-level you’ll be riding horseback through a moving play, and eventually facing off in a superb boss battle that makes use of the mechanics you’ve just learned. It’s great fun, all told.

Ninja Peach adds stealth mechanics and wall-jumping to her moveset, again without complicating or adding buttons to the scheme. It was around this time playing that I realised each “play” felt like a story that’d continue throughout the game overall. It’s hard to tell how long Princess Peach: Showtime is, but I’d be pretty surprised if you don’t revisit these transformations multiple times over, each with more outlandish levels and design on show.

Patisserie Peach was the most different one, because it almost felt like a game pinched from the Mario Party series. While the core platforming and movement still exists as Patisserie Peach, this level makes Peach, well, an expert in Patisserie, and therefore she has to save the day by finishing off cookies and cakes for her new friends. This manifests in mini-games within the game, and you have to stir the cookie mixture, then later decorate these massive cakes while suspended above them, copying designs that are shown on screen. It’s totally different to the entire rest of the game I played, and is almost certainly going to become meme-worthy, with the freedom on offer.

Princess Peach: Showtime

It’d be remiss of me not to mention Figure Skater Peach too, because while I didn’t get to play the level, Nintendo did show us footage of Peach as a Figure Skater in action, and it looks more advanced in terms of movement than what I’d seen so far. With lots of movement on the ice, and creative storytelling even in the short clips we saw, I can’t wait to play this level for myself.

Princess Peach: Showtime is a lovely reminder that Nintendo games are for everyone. Late last year I had Super Mario Bros Wonder and Super Mario RPG, and this year that six-year old girl I mentioned gets to live out her dreams as Peach. This is a wonderful, fun, vibrant, and friendly game, and while it may not quite scratch the itch for those wanting a new Odyssey, I’d be surprised if, after the success of the movie, this wasn’t one of the best selling games of the year. As a fan of the collectathon style platform game genre, I can’t wait to get stuck into it more, because as usual, the actual feel of the movement has been nailed as well.


Princess Peach: Showtime is coming to Nintendo Switch on March 22nd.