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Forget Mario Day, Where's Peach's Reinvention?

Forget Mario Day, Where's Peach's Reinvention?
Creative Assembly | Nintendo

Written by 

Tom Chapman

Posted 

10th Mar 2022 15:04

Lara Croft, Samus, Amanda Ripley, FemShep, Jill Valentine, and Aloy. These are of the hardest women in video games, and if you threw them into an arena together Smash Bros-style, we're not sure who'd come out on top. Still, all of these owe a lot to a certain cake-loving princess from a little place called the Mushroom Kingdom. So, where's our love for Princess Peach?

March 10 is Mario Day. Get it? Mar10. The annual tradition puts the focus back on Nintendo's mushroom-munching mascot, and not that he needs any more attention, but Mario is (obviously) the focus. There's the usual slew of mundane Mario announcements, but with 2022 throwing up rumours of a Princess Peach LEGO set, it got us thinking about his long-suffering girlfriend.

Peachy Keen

Princess Peach Super Mario Odyssey
Nintendo

Technically, Peach has been around for just as long as the little guy. Although Mario first appeared as "Jumpman" in 1981's Donkey Kong, he was later reimagined as the Mario we know today for 1985's Super Mario Bros., which is where we first met Princess Peach as a damsel in distress.

Over the years, we've seen Peach's look evolve alongside Mario - even sporting beachwear in Super Mario Odyssey. Still, she's trapped in a never-ending cycle of being kidnapped by Bowser, the spiny King Koopa trying to marry her, Mario saving the day, and then peach usually baking a cake while going back to ruling the realm. She's hardly Cersei Lannister here. 

Despite being little more than a romantic interest of the Mario games who flicks her hair, chuckles, and looks pretty, we have seen Peach lose her shackles on several occasions. The generic Mario Party and Mario Kart games have seen Peach do more than just sit on the throne, but to really see her go, check out this ass-kicking queen in the Smash Bros. games. If she can pummel her male companions in the ring, why hasn't this translated to the wider world?

It's About Time We Get A Peach Spin-Off

Princess Peach Aloy
Guerilla Games | Nintendo

Yoshi, Luigi, and even Wario have all had their own spin-offs, so where's Peach's time to shine? It's true that we had 2005's Super Princess Peach, and although it went on to become one of the best-selling Nintendo DS games, it was marred by allegations of sexism and the fact Peach's powers came from an emotion meter - leading to suggestions that all women are emotional

Alongside Super Princess Peach being called stupidly easy, journalists were confused at why review copies came with a bottle of perfume and asked whether Nintendo was aiming purely at women. This has been Peach's problem since the very start, with critics refusing to take Peach seriously thanks to her ticking almost every blonde stereotype box in almost every adventure. If we were Peach, we'd have whacked Bowser in the nuts with our umbrella by now. 

 

Super Princess Peach spun the whole damsel in distress trope on its head, as she raced to save Mario and Luigi, but some 17 years later, we hope Nintendo has learned from its mistakes. The timing couldn't be better for a Peach standalone, and just days after International Women's Day 2022, there's no better time for her to step out from the shadows of the portly plumber.

We're in an era of female-first games, and you only have to look at Horizon's Aloy to see this in action. Apart from complaints by hairy-knuckled keyboard neanderthals about women having "hairy" faces, this year has been a big one thanks to Aloy's return for Horizon Forbidden West. We're not saying a Peach game would have to be a Horizon clone, but Aloy's strong character development should at least serve as a template. 

Peach And The Forgotten Land

Nintendo

Only recently, we've seen Nintendo throw its marketing might behind Kirby and the Forgotten Land. Taking the pink puffball to a dystopian and oddly The Last of Us apocalypse, it shows that not everything has to look like Bloodborne to be a gritty reimagining.

Still, we're imagining an action game where hero Peach saves the Mushroom Kingdom from mutated Goombas and Piranha Plants while riding a tamed Chain Chomp into battle. Picture the scene where Kemek the Magikoopa casts a spell over the realm and turns its inhabitants into flesh-hungry mutants. Step up to the plate a Samus-inspired Peach that blasts them to pieces in her pink armour. We're getting some series FemShep from Mass Effect vibes. 

Nintendo isn't exactly known for its dark games, and especially when it comes to Mario, Luigi sucking up some perky poltergeists with a hoover is about as scary as the franchise gets. Then again, the Paper Mario games have had some pretty dark moments - with Peach even being possessed by the Shadow Queen in The Thousand-Year Door. Elsewhere, Peach has also appeared in a painting of the infamously grisly The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, so here's hoping Princess Zelda taught her a few of her Sheikh moves.

Peaches And Dreams

Nintendo

Even if Nintendo isn't willing to take the gamble on an apocalyptic Peach game, it's easy to imagine a gritty Peach level forming part of a future Mario outing. You could use it as a testing ground, and with Multiverses being all the rage for Marvel and DC, never say never. 

Unfortunately, it's more likely that Mario Day will come and go with another lacklustre announcement of a paid-for Mario Kart DLC, a new Super Nintendo World Ride, and some Princess Peach LEGO that won't even come with a minifig of the woman herself. As Super Princess Peach proved, Nintendo just isn't invested in crowning Peach as a worthy successor to Mario. We've seen some movement on Peach progression when she turned down Bowser AND Mario in Super Mario Odyssey to stand on her own two feet, but it's only baby steps. 

Although Peach is destined to appear in the inevitable Odyssey sequel's opening scene - presumably to be whisked away by Bowser for a shotgun wedding - we'll have to wait and see whether anyone at Nintendo has the cojones to suggest a full-blown spin-off where she's more than just a plot device. Oh well, there's always next year. Insert eye roll here.