Despite appearing alongside Mario since the NES era, Princess Peach has rarely been given much opportunity to have her own spotlight. There has been a couple of attempts, most notably the divisive DS outing, but not many. She’s often just placed in the moustachioed plumber’s shadow, normally relegated to a damsel in distress or a floaty co-op alternative.

With the recently released film showing off the princess in a more headstrong light, now feels like the perfect opportunity for Peach to go off on her own adventures, and Nintendo has given us that in the form of Princess Peach: Showtime! Will this be her big break, or will she be booed off stage?

The game opens with Princess Peach and her favourite Toad servants as they enter the Sparkle Theatre ready to watch a spectacular performance. Before they can even get themselves seated, however, the theatre is invaded by Madame Grape and the Sour Bunch (which sounds a bit like a band from the 60s) who promptly ruin things by entering the plays and capturing the lead stars.

It’s up to Peach and her new friend Stella to save the shows by donning the lead characters’ costumes – which is done by collecting their shiny essence – and using it to outwit, or outfight, the pernicious purple perps.


There are ten costumes altogether, and each one offers a uniquely different gimmick to set themselves apart from one another. Whilst they don’t all offer vastly unique playstyles, as six of them fall firmly within the standard 2D platformer format, they do at least feel different enough to be memorable in their own right. Ninja Peach, for example, is all about her agility and stealth. She can’t attack enemies head on, but she can scale buildings and blend in with the environment in order to get the drop on her foes. The Swordfighter, on the other hand, is more about stabbing things with her sword and using the dodge ability to avoid deadly attacks.

The other four costumes, on the other hand, are far more unique and shake up the formula far more than the others. Whilst feeling more like a side game, they’re still welcome additions to help give you a break from the usual platforming. There’s Detective Peach, who solves mysteries by talking with nearby NPCs and examining her environment to solve rudimentary clues; and a Patisserie Chef who typically has to decorate cakes under pressure; amongst others who I won’t spoil by revealing more details. They’re so vastly different that it makes you wonder how this is even the same game at times, and I mean that in a good way.

At the end of the day, this all works so well because of the game’s inherent simplicity. Much like Balan Wonderworld, it ensures that adapting to new costumes is never a problem as there’s a single action button for your primary action, no matter what that may be (although Showtime! also opts for a secondary jump button too). This allows you to know exactly how to control a character the moment you change into your new costume – leaving you only to figure out how that action works with the environment. It’s a great way to throw in a wide variety of game elements whilst still making it accessible to all ages and skill levels.


Each play has three acts for you to tackle, and each floor contains four different ones for you to beat before facing off against one of Madame Grape’s minions. Each act has up to ten sparkles to find (essentially the stars of Showtime!), with some being given to you as part of general progression, and others requiring a little bit more effort. Usually this involves searching every nook and cranny for hidden areas, or performing a task with a certain degree of competency. It’s surprisingly tricky to get everything for some of the play, as some of them can be quite devious. Thankfully the requirement to unlock each boss door is incredibly low, so there’s very little pressure to 100% everything – although it is worth noting that your extra sparkles can be put to good use after rolling the end credits.

It’s a pretty chilled out game overall, but most importantly it’s actually fun to play too. Part of that is down to just how much charm the game oozes through all the small details. The horse in the Cowgirl Peach play is held up by strings as it clumsily gallops along, Ninja Peach uses cardboard leaves to help hide herself within foliage, and pretty much everything in the Mighty Peach plays look like it’s made from aluminium. It’s has that same hand-made aesthetic that worked so well in the likes of Yoshi’s Crafted World and Paper Mario: The Origami King, and it really makes you think that this is all going on on-stage.


The only real issue is that Princess Peach: Showtime! is a pretty short affair, with my seven hour playthrough seeing me collect the vast majority of the sparkles and even beat some of the (unfortunately rather limited) side activities too. This number is bolstered up by the post-game slightly, which encourages you to repeat all the stages one more time, but the way it does so isn’t quite as satisfying as the flip-side in Yoshi’s Crafted World. It’s something that would encourage you to replay the game, but it doesn’t feel like it’s adding all that much either.

But that gripe is rather minor in the grand scheme of things when the game is such a delight to play. It leaves you wishing that there was more to it, because what is there is just so joyful to play. It may seem like it’s aimed at younger female gamers with its central character and theming, but – as a 37 year old man – I can quite confidently say that it’s something that anyone can pick up and enjoy. And really, what more could you ask for?

Princess Peach Showtime! is a great outing for gaming’s favourite princess, with a gimmick that perfectly fits her character and a compelling antagonist that will hopefully make a return one day. It may not last for as long as you may like, but this could be the start of an excellent new side series – and with no plumbers in sight!