Princess Peach: Showtime review - Leading lady shines on stage

Princess Peach: Showtime review - Leading lady shines on stage
Images via Nintendo

Written by 

Dani Cross

Published 

26th Mar 2024 16:50

A long time ago, when I was still in primary school, my teacher asked all the kids in class what they’d been doing over the holidays. I proudly proclaimed “playing Super Princess Peach” - the game came out the week before and I loved it. In hindsight, that was perhaps the earliest indication I didn’t entirely have the same interests as the other boys.

Yet for some reason, I had no issue displaying my love for the game and the character in front of the whole class in that moment. Since then I've come out as a trans woman and felt confident enough to cosplay her at a comic-con. I was dragged into pictures with little girls who were clearly unperturbed by my awful wig and the dirty trainers hiding under my dress.

That was my first time attempting anything like that and it was only right to do my favourite femme character. So when I heard Peach was getting a new game, I was thrilled.

It’s important as a reviewer not to let your own personal bias affect your criticism too much though. I love Peach, but I was prepared for the eventuality that I wouldn’t love Showtime. Early footage suggested it’d be super easy and the performance wouldn’t be too great, both of which remain accurate.

So, I’m pleased to say this game is a near-constant source of joy. Each transformation is memorable and introduces fun new ideas. It stands on its own as a solid selection of exciting levels, but it also gives us Peach fans a delightful adventure filled with feminine charm that truly celebrates the character in a way no other Nintendo game has managed to do.

GGRecon Verdict

Showtime embraces Peach's femininity and uses it to fuel her newfound heroics. Transforming into a graceful figure skater, a beautiful songstress or a cutesy chef is her way of saving those in need, and it's truly cathartic. On top of that, the levels are simply a whole lot of fun to play, despite how easy you might find them.

Act One

Rather than returning to the Mushroom Kingdom again, Showtime transports Peach to a whole new place populated by new characters and enemies. There’s not a Goomba or Koopa in sight - instead, you’ll be fighting grapes called “The Sour Bunch” and animals made of theater equipment.

Skating in Princess Peach Showtime
Click to enlarge

Rolling hills and deserts are swapped for fantastical stage productions. One sees you swimming through a world filled with fish props and in another you'll be riding a wooden horse as it hangs from the rafters. It gives the game a unique vibe and a cute handcrafted aesthetic - the hallmark of Good-Feel games following titles like Kirby’s Epic Yarn and Yoshi’s Crafted World.

Showtime doesn’t just turn Peach into a heroine, but a fully-fledged action hero. She’s launching robots into giant spaceships to blow them up and jumping over an exploding train in slow motion. It’s cathartic and over-the-top. The joy comes from seeing these moments play out, like being in the audience of these plays yourself.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t embrace traditionally “girly” things though. Peach’s transformations alone will spoil cosplayers for choice. You can customise her dress in-game too - turning Peach’s gown into a vibrant disco ball is something I didn’t know I needed in my life. These are your rewards for gathering collectibles, and they’re a fun addition for any fashionistas who want to dress up our pink protagonist.

A disco dress for Peach.
Click to enlarge

The transformations change both the gameplay and Peach’s look. For the detective levels, she dons a Holmes-esque get-up complete with a magnifying glass. The Dashing Thief look is a striking persona, perfect for sneaking around at night. Figure Skater Peach is glamorous and glistening, gliding with grace across the ice.

It’s these transformations that keep the game from getting stale. The gameplay is never very challenging or deep, but before long you’ll be whisked away into a new stage play and dressing up in a whole new outfit, then setting off to save whoever needs saving. Some are a bit more exciting than others, but they’re all great ideas and none of them overstay their welcome.

Intermission

This is a very simple game, but gamers of all ages and skill levels can get something out of it. It’s obviously aimed at a younger audience primarily, and anyone accustomed to Mario games or other platformers will fly through most of the levels here. That doesn’t make them boring though - my first time playing was a delight. Peach’s transformations and the gameplay twists they create make for an exciting show, and I was invested regardless of how easy the game was at times.

Decorating a cake in Princess Peach Showtime
Click to enlarge

The real downer here is the approach to replayability and 100% completion. If you miss any collectibles (and you will miss some), you’ll have to replay the level from the start, unskippable dialogue and all. 

Now it’s been a while since I was the young kid this game is primarily aimed at, but I remember being annoyed at having to sit through dialogue or cutscenes when I was young. Not quite as annoyed as I get now, but you need a serious amount of patience if you want to 100% this otherwise short game. I can’t imagine too many kids will end up finding everything, and older players may find it a waste of time to go back and replay everything.

Frankly, it doesn’t seem worth the effort - the stop-start nature of the levels quickly gets exhausting once the initial magic of your first playthrough wears off.

Peach waiting on a bench in Princess Peach Showtime.
Click to enlarge

The lack of a “restart checkpoint” option is quite the oversight, and makes missing collectibles far more frustrating than it needs to be. You can’t back out once you find what you’re missing either - you need to complete the entire level again for it to count.

The loading times can be pretty long too, and the frame rate isn’t exactly flawless. These performance issues don’t really affect the gameplay much, but it’s clear this game doesn’t quite make the most of the Switch in the same way a game like Super Mario Odyssey does.

Act Two

While some levels are better than others, each one earns its place in the game’s line-up. Mermaid Peach was an easy highlight for me as a fan of music and underwater creatures. You’ll ride on a turtle’s shell and sing songs to guide a school of fish through the level. These plays end by putting a pitch-perfect bow on top with a grand, rhythmic finale.

Singing atop turtles in Princess Peach Showtime
Click to enlarge

Ninja Peach has the biggest banger of a soundtrack accompanying it, and the gameplay is some of the most enjoyable too. Whether it’s hiding in the shadows and striking enemies by surprise, or riding a huge wave as it soars down the rapids, you’ll forget you’re supposed to be playing as someone who’s usually the damsel in distress.

And that’s kind of the whole point - to shake off the notion that this role is all Peach can be. We’ve seen her smack Nintendo icons with a frying pan in Smash Bros or take to the racetrack in Mario Kart, but this is a complete reinvention of the character without losing sight of what makes her so lovable in the first place.

There’s no mention of her time in captivity, and no mention of her usual captors. It’s a new world for Peach and for us, and it feels special in a way that Super Princess Peach didn’t quite manage.

What’s more, it embraces her femininity and uses it to make her stronger. Becoming an elegant skater or a cutesy chef is her way of saving people in need. Each transformation shows a new side to Peach, but each one feels like it’s always been there inside her, waiting to be unleashed.

Curtain Call

Peach in Princess Peach Showtime
Click to enlarge

Showtime is an uplifting experience for any Peach fans who’ve been waiting for her to get her own big adventure again. It’s short and easygoing, and not without some drawbacks, but it’s filled with magical moments.

The transformations are an excellent way to make the levels distinct, and the sheer joy of letting Peach loose in a whole new environment where she can morph into a new kind of hero makes Showtime a brilliant step forward for the character in the same way games like Odyssey and Forgotten Land did for Mario and Kirby.

She doesn’t even keep her crown throughout the game, and it’s that de-emphasis of her royalty that makes way for new heroics and helps build her character. In Showtime, Peach isn’t just a princess - she’s the leading actress, a versatile protagonist who can adapt to any situation if it means saving those in need. And of course, it helps that the game is just a whole lot of fun to play.

4/5

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch. Review code provided by the publisher.

Dani is a Guides Writer for GGRecon. She graduated from university with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, then worked as a freelance writer before joining the GGRecon team as a full-time writer in 2023. In her opinion, the best game of all time is Elden Ring – but her favourite is Halo: Reach, a game that created lifelong friendships and somehow started her down the path to a career in media. She’s also way too invested in Pokemon cards, and a big fan of guinea pigs, cats and other cute creatures.