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ups: Classic platforming action, princess peach rocks, loads of mini-games.
downs: On the easy side for skilled players.

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Super Princess Peach
game: Super Princess Peach
four star
posted by: Laurie Taylor
publisher: Nintendo
developer: Nintendo
view related website
ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
date posted: 11:42 AM Sun Mar 19th, 2006
last revision: 11:42 AM Sun Mar 19th, 2006

Click to read.Super Princess Peach is the first, and long overdue, game to feature Princess Peach as the sole player-character. While Peach moved from simply a damsel in distress to a fighter years ago in Super Mario Brothers 2 and as a playable character in games like the Mario Kart series, she still more often needs to be saved than can fight on her own. Super Princess Peach highlights and empowers Peach as well as the DS\'s innovative game play options with the Vibe powers and boss battles. In all, Super Princess Peach marks an important entry into the Mario world, an important entry into the possibilities offered by the DS, and a paradigm shifting game for girls because it manages to combine girly \"pink\" gaming with quality, classic platforming.

For girl gamers, Super Princess Peach opens into the same fascinating world that Super Mario Brothers did in 1984. It does so by presenting a game that almost all can play, will enjoy, and will find challenging at points. In the same way that Super Mario Brothers displayed the power of the original NES, Super Princess Peach displays the power of the DS. And, most importantly, it does so in a manner that will entice new girl players to game. If you\'re looking for a nostalgic yet new take on Mario-style platform gaming, or if you want a girl to game, Super Princess Peach will exceed your expectations in exciting ways. However, for gamers who\'ve grown up on Mario and are expecting something that suits their gaming skills level, Super Princess Peach falls on the easy side of gaming.

As a classically styled Mario-world game, Super Princess Peach presents excellently designed environments where everything is exceptionally well laid-out, complete with hidden areas. Super Princess Peach offers eight worlds, filled with well-known enemies from other games like Petey Piranha, Bowser, the Boos, and the Hammer Brothers. Super Princess Peach\'s story begins after Bowser travels to Vibe Island and finds the Vibe Scepter. The Scepter grants Bowser additional powers and he then kidnaps Mario, Luigi, Toad, and the normal crew while Princess Peach is out on a walk. When Peach returns, she and her trusty umbrella Perry decide to travel to Vibe Island to save the day.

Throughout Super Princess Peach, Peach uses her Vibe powers and Perry the umbrella to explore Vibe Island and to defeat enemies. Peach\'s Vibe powers include Joy, which allows her to float upwards and to produce a cyclone that can attack enemies and blow away fog. Rage creates flames that surround Peach, attacking enemies, burning away ice and wooden bridges, and allowing her to stomp more powerfully. Gloom makes Peach cry torrentially, watering plants and making them grow, extinguishing fires, and providing water for ice in frozen levels. Calm slowly restores Peach\'s health. These abilities all rely on the Vibe meter, which can be restored using the umbrella Perry to eat enemies.

In addition to eating enemies to restore the Vibe meter, Perry can hit enemies, can help Peach to float, can hook onto ropes so Peach can slide, and can be upgraded to help Peach float for longer periods of time and to help her pound the ground more powerfully. Perry also offers tips to Peach at points, and players learn of Perry\'s back story through Perry\'s dreams throughout the game. In this, Perry functions like Link\'s Cap Ezlo in The Minish Cap as both a game play assistant and added character. The additional narrative provided by Perry is also complemented by the visual depiction of Perry.

Super Princess Peach\'s visual layout follows many Mario games with its smooth, well drawn graphics, and it adds a pinker color palette. The clean graphics and pinker palette offers a visual layout that will appeal to girls, as will the changes to the classic Mario platformer action, like fighting flowers based on color arrangement. Other elements, like areas where Peach has to be in the same position as the statues of herself when an enemy awakens, highlight Peach\'s cuteness like when Peach holds her skirt down when jumping, showing the bottoms of her shoes. Cuteness sometimes gets a bad reputation; however, cuteness matters in girl gaming and a decent aesthetic matters in all games.

The DS\'s touch screen also adds to the visual layout by sometimes providing a subsequent screen where Peach can access the level map or her Vibe powers and sometimes it acts as an additional screen so that the image perspective is one long narrow screen. This is helpful when Peach encounters certain levels, like when she has to avoid enemies and roll a log up the entire screen to get to the top, and when Peach falls down the screen while fighting a giant owl. The long and narrow vertical screen offers a perspective not found in many games and adds additional variety to the game play.

Overall, Super Princess Peach\'s main game is easy to play, but it can be confusing to find everything and the game does require that players find all of the Toads in each level before players can face Bowser. This is a nice element because it requires players to explore at some point, but players can easily skip through levels without finding the Toads. Thus, the overall game play isn\'t stilted if players have trouble finding the Toads on any particular level. The primary complaint that current gamers may voice is that Super Princess Peach\'s boss battles and the overall game aren\'t hard. Yet, this seems to be an unfair global complaint because the original Super Mario Brothers isn\'t hard either, or at least it isn\'t now. While experienced gamers will find the difficulty level a bit low, newer gamers will have a tough time finding all of the Toads just as older gamers once had difficulty with the earlier Mario games. Plus, newer gamers will have to master all of the controls, which includes many more buttons than most gamers learned as children playing Super Mario Brothers.

In addition to the main game, Super Princess Peach includes loads of extras like its internal glossary of enemies, puzzles made of puzzle pieces found in the game, a music room where Peach plays music from the game, the ability to rewatch Perry\'s dream sequences, additional levels after beating the main game once, and mini-games like one where the player has to blow into the microphone to make Toad jump over enemies.

Mini-games like Toad\'s microphone-controlled jumping make Super Princess Peach, a valid game in itself, a worthwhile gaming experience with important implications for gaming at large. For instance, being able to blow into a microphone to control a game, and having it work reliably, means that that particular game could be played by people with limited or no use of their hands. While other computer technologies are becoming more accessible-with proper HTML, XHTML, and CSS allowing for multiple means of access for those with visual impairments or other disabilities-video games remain largely inaccessible to people with any sort of disability. Some games will always be largely inaccessible because of their intrinsic properties; however, many games are only limited by the control mechanism. Being able to shift the interface controls to a microphone from a button for jumping means that someone without two dexterous hands could play. Gaming should be opening its markets to new players as well as allowing more people to play, especially given that the DS and other game systems could be used in physical therapy to help people develop or redevelop their eye-hand coordination. The DS shows that the hardware and programming can be done, and now we just need more people to work on it and more games that employ different interfaces.

While exploring the power of the DS, Super Princess Peach also helps define what it means to be a powerful woman character in a video game. My personal preference is for women who are tougher and don\'t show many emotions-women like Jill and Claire in the Resident Evil series. However, Peach offers another version of womanhood and one that\'s just as tough, but that\'s also more traditionally girly. Traditionally girly isn\'t a complaint against Peach because Peach owns it-she knows she\'s girly and that\'s part of who she is. She isn\'t girly because that\'s what\'s expected of her, but because that\'s what she wants to be. Peach in Super Princess Peach openly displays her emotions, she\'s very girly (pink dress, tiara, princess thing), but she knows who she is--she isn\'t a gender norm, but a person. This is something players need--a game that\'s superbly designed and that doesn\'t present stereotypes. Sure, Peach is a Princess, but she isn\'t weak. Sure, those narratives can be found in other girly-marketed things, but I doubt any of those include killing enemies with an umbrella, having the umbrella eat enemies, or killing legions of monsters while keeping one\'s outfit neat and stylish. Peach is a hardcore fighter while being hardcore girly and-while I\'m not and never have been a girly girl--I love Peach for being true to her girly girl roots and for being tough enough to defend herself and her friends.

Feminism celebrates multiplicity, the ability to be more than just a stereotype, and the ability to defy stereotypes in general. Gaming has a long way to go to break the stereotypical depiction of characters, for different genders, ethnicities, religions, and sexual preferences, as well as a long way to break free from gaming stereotypes for game play and game genres. Super Princess Peach breaks at least two stereotypes, that for a girly character and that for a girl game.

Given Super Princess Peach\'s excellent overall game play, multitude of extras, and given its historical importance for gaming, Super Princess Peach easily earns a 4/5 ranking overall. However, for new gamers, and especially girl gamers, it\'s clearly earned a perfect score. I\'m always looking for games that I can recommend to nongamers, and some of the nongamers I know are very girly (meaning they\'re in their twenties and have tea parties while discussing novels by Jane Austen), and Super Princess Peach is one of the very few games I would recommend without reservation to them. I think I\'ll start by recommending that those girls go to the Super Princess Peach website which includes mini-games, a magazine maker, and a T-shirt iron-on maker, among other extras. Games and their complementary websites like these are precisely what gaming needs to make \"girl gamer\" into a redundant term.

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