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video game review: The Princess Inquiries

Princess Peach Shows Her Emotional Side in Fun Platformer

By William Andrews

Super Princess Peach

Nintendo DS

Overall: 7 (all scores out of 10)

Graphics: 8

Music/Sound: 6

Controls: 7

Gameplay: 8

Replay Value: 7

It finally happened. Princess Peach Toadstool is the star of her own adventure, a side-scrolling action game for the Nintendo DS system, in the best tradition of the Mario Bros. This time around, Bowser kidnaps the famed plumbers (because it’s not the Mushroom Kingdom unless someone gets kidnapped), and it’s up to our intrepid heroine, her emotions, and a mysterious fighting parasol to get them back and set things right.

Whatever. You don’t play a Mario game for the story — you play it for the fun. However you feel about Mr. Miyamoto and Nintendo in general, they sure can make an entertaining video game, and Super Princess Peach (SPP) doesn’t disappoint. It was no problem doing my reviewer’s duty and playing the game through to the credits; in fact, it was hard to put down the controller for the most part. This also means it was pretty easy. Though I don’t need much challenge to enjoy a game, for those who do, seek out another one.

Enough generalizations — let’s get nitpicky. I’d heard SPP would be partially modeled after Yoshi’s Island, that beautiful SNES classic in which Yoshi transports baby Mario to his parents, since the stork was ambushed by Bowser’s henchmen (seriously). Even though the two are very similar in overall style and controls, it’s sad to realize that Yoshi’s Island, from 11 years ago, outshines SPP in both graphics and sound. The latter’s graphics were nicely done, but they just weren’t as eye-catching and striking as I’d hoped, and the music was also something of a letdown, functioning more as filler than an attraction.

The controls were kind of weird. Granted, there’s going to be funky stuff since DS has a touch screen, but it served way more like a gimmick than anything else. Since the game takes place on Vibe Island, where Bowser has a summer home (again, I’m serious), Peach’s emotions are magnified. This means that, assuming you have enough emotional energy in your bar, you can make Peach feel Joy, Rage, Sorrow, or Calm. Each state has its own special abilities (Joy makes Peach fly, Rage makes her stomp and catch things on fire, Calm heals Peach, Sorrow makes her cry, and in order to navigate the various stages of the game and find the elusive Toads you must use these skills/emotions to the max). To choose an emotion you tap the appropriate corner on the touch screen, no easy task. Though I tried to find a comfortable way to use all the necessary buttons while holding the stylus in one hand, I eventually just gave up and used my thumbs to activate SPP’s powers.

A bunch of features make it perhaps worthwhile to go through SPP a second time, for example newer tunes and lots of mini-games (which were, of course, also fun). The thing is, once was quite enough for me; I felt no desire to go through the same stages, find the same secret hiding spots (albeit for new secrets). It was fun, but not that fun. Maybe if I’d bought it, I’d be ready in a few months to go do it all again and enjoy myself while I was at it, but not right now.

There has, of course, been a bit of controversy surrounding this game. I mean, Peach Toadstool finally gets her own game (SMB2 and SSBM don’t count), and what’s her shtick? She uses her emotions to get her way. Now, I’m not here to argue whether it’s sexist or just an accurate representation of character or whatever, that’s another department. I’m here to tell you it’s a fun game with some flaws that you’ll most likely enjoy playing. Seriously.