NINTENDO DS REVIEW: SUPER PRINCESS PEACH

As they say "turnabout is fair play", with Mario plumber-napped and Luigi nowhere to be found, it's up to Princess Peach to save the day and repay her debt to the world's greatest gaming hero. by Cole Smith

February 27, 2006 - Why Super Princess Peach? Why does she get her own game? Is Mario on holidays? No, Mario is not sunning his arse in the Keys. For a change he's the one that's been kidnapped by Bowser. Only the Princess can save him this time. Don't even ask about that lazy Luigi.

Super Princess Peach is not the next Super Mario Bros game. Instead it's a re-created version of Super Mario but the familiar and easy gameplay are targeted specifically at kids and gaming novices. It doesn't even make good use of the touchscreen features which might have attracted seasoned players. But it's a fun game for the right audience nonetheless.

This game is classic, 2D platforming at its best. Graphically the game is delicious. It's a real stunner. The controls are perfectly tight and the overall gameplay is very forgiving for beginners. The levels are large and with plenty of backtracking, alternate paths and coin collecting, your stay will be an extended one.

The gameplay will be familiar to Mario fans. There are pipes to pop into, blocks to bounce on, ghosts to outrun, springboards to launch from, coins to collect, fish to avoid while underwater, and an assortment of Goombas and Koopas to jump on. The Princess has some different moves and abilities than Mario and his infamous brother, Luigi. She floats when she jumps, which gives you a little extra time to guide her to the right location. She carries a magic parasol with her, named Parry, that can be used like a sword to hit enemies. She can even pick enemies up with it and toss them away. Parry can also be used to glide along rails or as a submarine for the underwater world. New abilities can be purchased at the shop but there is a power source called the Vibe which permeates the game and gives powers to friends and foes alike.

Vibe Island is the source of a mysterious power that endows characters such as Bowser and Princess with strange and unique abilities. Upon visiting the island in search of the Vibe Scepter, Bowser gained incredible powers that allowed him to abduct Mario and Luigi, along with an assortment of toads that the Princess will rescue in the various levels.

The Princess is able to harness the powers of her emotions which will be called upon to be used in various situations. There are four hearts at the bottom of the screen, each representing an emotion such as sadness, anger, clam and happiness. By pressing the corresponding heart icon you will access the following abilities: Sadness makes the Princess shed fountains of tears but it makes her move very quickly. She can also use the tears to put out fires and water plants which will grow. Her quick speed burst allows her to cross rickety bridges that would otherwise collapse under her weight. Anger makes her burst into flames but it also makes her heavy which allows her to bust through blocks that she stands atop. She can also use her flames to burn through wooden obstacles. Happiness makes her floaty which will allow her to float to the top of the screen and gain access to hidden areas. Calm can only be used when her health is low as it restores heath and envelops her in a protective shield.

All of these powers will be called upon at different times to solve puzzles that are intended to impede your progress. You will also find them handy for boss battles. It only takes a little while to get used to these powers. At first it's a lot of fun trying to figure out which emotional power to use for a specific situation but after a few levels you'll instantly know what emotion to use. Nintendo could have included a virtually limitless assortment of different situations in which to use these powers but instead many of them are repeated or are very close variations that are instantly recognizable. This takes away the challenge and fun of the puzzles and makes things too predictable and repetitive. Even during the boss fights the CPU will literally spell out what emotional Vibe powers to use.

In each level there are three toads that are imprisoned. You don't have to find and free all of them to get to the next level but if you want to enter into the final confrontation with Bowser, all of the toads must be freed. It's not a problem to backtrack if you have to - not to mention that you should be used to it as the gameplay tends to extend the replay value by having you routed to areas that you've already been to.

There are no multi-player modes but Super Princess Peach tries hard to instill some replay value. Once you defeat Bowser the game isn't necessarily over. New levels will open up and you can go back into the old levels to search for new items. You can also look for stuff that you might have missed the first time through.

The characters are sprite-based. They are bright, colorful, cartoonish and very familiar. You will see many popular Mario characters that are used in slightly different situations but I can't help thinking of this as a recycled Super Mario game. Although the storyline, sound effects and soundtrack are different, the 2D, side-scrolling gameplay is bound to give experienced gamers deja vu.

Features:

  • Special powers/weapons/moves/features: Peach can run, jump and slide, not to mention use her parasol to whack things, pick items up and even float across water. Besides that, she has four vibes that give her special abilities.
  • Players play through eight areas, each composed of several stages and a boss, as they search out imprisoned Toads and collect coins.
  • While running and jumping through stages, players must use Peach's vibes to break through impediments, conquer impossibly high cliffs and defeat enemies. To build up Peach's vibe powers, players collect gems or pick up enemies with her magic parasol and absorb them.
  • Select your level via a world map not unlike that of Yoshi's Island and can enter Toad's shop to purchase items.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Rating out of 5
Super Princess Peach (DS)
4.5
Graphics
Excellent looking game. Certainly worthy of the Super Mario Bros series.
4.0
Control
While the controls are tight, there could have been way more use of the touch system. .
4.2
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Good sound effects. They aren't better than the original Super Mario Bros effects, just different.
4.0
Play Value
Once you defeat Bowser you can go back and find new levels and new items in the old levels.
4.2
Overall Rating - Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: DS
Dev: Nintendo
Pub: Nintendo
Released: Feb 2006
Players: 1
Review by Cole Smith

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best