Princess Peach: Showtime! review – A well-earned spotlight

Princess Peach: Showtime! is a dazzling adventure that embraces its heroine and her unique charm.
princess peach showtime

Princess Peach has fulfilled the damsel role for decades – functioning as Mario’s reason for being, and the apple of his eye. While recent games have come to terms with her status, allowing her a new measure of self control, it’s in Princess Peach: Showtime! that she finally, deservedly, gets a proper chance to shine.

It’s a game brimming with ideas for Peach. In shedding the damsel label, the world is her oyster. She becomes a patissiere, a figure skater, a detective, a gentle thief, a karate master. She wears many hats, and waltzes through many gameplay styles. In a way, this version of Peach shares similar ideology to the Barbie franchise. Peach changes costumes, and so embodies a whole new identity.

It’s a brilliant conceit, and one that flows well within the game. The overarching narrative is fairly simple – the malevolent Grape and her Sour Bunch have invaded Sparkle Theater, and it’s up to Peach to team up with a sentient magical ribbon to save the day.

While Grape’s intentions are never explicitly clear, she serves as a haunting foil to Peach’s adventures, as our hero journeys through a number of stage plays beset by evil goons.

Read: The new Princess Peach game is a chance for redemption

swordfighter boss fight peach
Screenshot: GamesHub

What buoys the action of each stage is a wonderfully creative approach to gameplay. Each costume not only transforms Peach – it also allows her new abilities, and access to whole new mechanics. The nearest comparison I can make is to the classic Crash Bandicoot series.

Princess Peach wanders through a multi-levelled theatre, entering unique stages, each with their own special challenges. In one, she wields a sword and takes on towering, ghost-like monsters. In another, she’s a mermaid guiding fish with a magical voice. Some levels are mini-stealth adventures. Some demand the use of detective work, and clever thinking.

The variety is staggering, with each new level inviting players to master a new skill, and search high and low for star collectibles. While constantly changing gameplay means there is a slight lack of coherence or glue between each stage – they all feel fairly disparate and disconnected – the many hats you wear are brilliant, and each stage shines in its own right.

Princess Peach: Showtime! feels like a smorgasbord of good ideas, smashed together in bright, zany fashion. Its pace is breakneck and over-the-top, but its devotion to colour and a bright sense of fun makes it an absolute pleasure to play through. Whether you’re spending your time baking cookies at speed, or jumping on a horse to contest a runaway train, there’s always something novel and delightful to discover in Showtime!.

princess peach showtime patissiere
Screenshot: GamesHub

At times, the adventure breezes by with a bit too much ease, but in reviewing, it’s important to remember it’s a game designed for all ages. I mention Barbie again, because young kids who play Showtime! will likely gain a better understanding of what a princess can be, as each chapter opens.

Princess Peach has been a damsel for decades. But she’s also been a member of a wily space crew (Mario + Rabbids Sparks of Hope), a woman seeking her own destiny (Super Mario Odyssey) and now, anything she wants to be. A magical mermaid. A patisserie chef. A cowgirl wrangler. A ninja. A sword fighter. A detective. A kung fu master. Princess Peach is a princess – and she’s also everything.

What most sung to me in Princess Peach: Showtime! is this multi-faceted portrayal, which never forgets what Princess Peach is: soft-hearted, feminine, charming, fashionable. In every guise, even when she’s wrangling horses or beating up the Sour Bunch, Peach remains true to who she’s always been.

Each level rewards her with new fashions, and ribbons for her hair. Her attacks are largely balletic – agile, twirling, dramatic. She’s a princess first, and that’s what makes her depiction so charming. Being a strong female character isn’t about shedding femininity, it’s about embracing every facet, and learning the many forms that strength takes.

princess peach showtime ice skate
Screenshot: GamesHub

It would be easy to deliver this message with a heavy hand, but Princess Peach: Showtime! maintains a lighter touch throughout its runtime, having Peach’s actions and performances speak for themselves. In each stage play, her real self is glimpsed, in ways that other Super Mario titles have only hinted at.

After years of waiting, this is the spotlight that Princess Peach deserves.

Even minor performances issues and slow loading times can’t take away from this glittering achievement. Years on the sidelines have emboldened Peach, and in this adventure, she finally gets a welcome chance to break out.

Four stars: ★★★★

Princess Peach: Showtime!
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nintendo
Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: 22 March 2024

Princess Peach: Showtime! – Nintendo Switch [Digital Code]
Buy Now
GamesHub has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content. GamesHub may earn a small percentage of commission for products purchased via affiliate links.
02/18/2024 03:31 pm GMT

A copy of Princess Peach: Showtime! was provided for the purposes of this review. GamesHub reviews are rated on a five-point scale.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.