If you look at my past video game reviews, you're well aware that I'm a man who likes to play only the manliest of manly video games. So obviously I wasn't gonna go out and buy any of that Super Princess Peach nonsense, no matter how many positive reviews I read, and no matter how much pressure Nintendo put on me to buy it. It's just not my style.
(Un?)forutunatley, once while I was out with a bunch of friends, I mentioned that while I would never buy the game myself, if it did manage to find its way into my posession I would play it. So a couple of those friends took it upon themselves to go and buy me the game for my birthday as a gag gift. Now, I'm something of a penny-pincher when it comes to spending money on others, so a $40 gag gift seems like a lot to me, even if split between two people. So now that I do own the game, I had to play it. After all, I'm a man of my word if nothing else.
So as I mentioned above, I had read a handful of good reviews of Super Princess Peach, so I wasn't terribly afraid of what would await me in the game. I was a little disgusted by the fact that it's a game clearly built and marketed for 12-year-old girls, and therefore drenched in pink and cuddlines. But then again, it wouldn't be the first game I've played that suffers from that particular affliction.
Alright, all that intro-esque crap aside, let's take a look at what this game's all about. In true handheld Mario fashion, you start by picking a warp pipe as your save file, and are greeted by a (rather leenghty) intro scene. It gives a few details of the game's setting, Vibe Island, and how Bowser has set up a vacation home there. He manages to unearth a treasure called the Vibe Scepter, which allows the holder to toy with people's emotions. With it, he has Mario, Luigi, and a boatload of Toads captured. Meanwhile, Princess Peach is enjoying a leisurely stoll with Toadsworth, and when they return to see the mess left behind, Peach immdediately sets out to save Mario, the Toads, and that green guy.
Before Peach gets on her way, Toadsworth presents her with a parasol he picked up from a dirty peddler. And surprise, surprise, the parasol can talk. And his name is Perry. Wow. they could have put at least a little thought into his name, rather than just playing the super-obvious pun. to top it all off, Perry is apparently extremely knowledgeable about Vibe Island, which kind of helps to explain the conveniently placed hint blocks (just like the ones in Yoshi's Island, but without the charming doodles).
The game is laid out like pretty much every Nintendo platformer out there. Which is to say, it starts with the nice, quiet plains area, which serves as a training ground for the basic game mechanics. Then as you progress you see all the cliché game areas, including the forest, the haunted house, the volcano, and the seaside. I'm not really complaining about that, because that's exactly what I expect from this kind of game, but it would be nice to see at least one somewhat original area.
Gameplay is pretty simple. You run about, jumping over platforms and smacking around enemies with Perry. There are also plenty things to collect along the way, obviously. What separates Super Princess Peach from the rest is her Emotion Powers. They're probably not really called that, but I don't care enough to check, and that's probably close enough. What they do, is you've got five emotions, all with their own abilities and whatnot. Firstly, you've got your normal state. You could say it doesn't count as an emotion, but I'll do my best to ignore you and your annoying voice. The other four are used by tapping one of the four hearts on the touch screen.
The red heart initates Rage, which makes Peach stomp about like a three-year-old having a temper tantrum, and encases her in a ball of fire. Obviously, it's good for burning things up and killing the more durable enemies. It also helps with pressing switches and other things that need a good stomp. The yellow heart will send Peach into Joy-town, making her swirl around in a nigh-impenetrable tornado. Enemies will be blown away, and it can also spin things like windmills. Flying is also possible while Peach is Happy, so it pretty much goes wihtout saying that Joy is the most useful emotion. The green heart will make Peach Calm, which restores the life gauge at an alarmingly slow rate. I guess it's fair enough though, since giving you a recovery ability at all is a little cheap. The last heart, the blue one, makes Peach Sad. While Sad, she'll run around at double speed, which helps cross falling platforms. She also acts like a huge water fountain, her tears able to spin waterwheels and grow sprouts into huge beanstalks.
All of the emotions in the previous paragraph are fueled by the Vibe Gauge. Using Joy to fly will sap it the quickest, while Clam will drain it pretty fast as well. The easiest way to replenish this gauge is to pick up the various blue crystals which are pretty much all over the place. The other way is a little more... sadistic. Peach can pick up enemies with Perry and toss them around much like Wario could in his side-scrollers, but there's more to this than just tossing bodies around. If you need a quick Vibe gauge refill, you can have Perry swallow any held enemies whole! I still find it entertaining to watch goombas get muched up one by one.
So Peach is clearly on some sort emotional rollercoaster here. Would it be inappropriate to make some kind of period joke? Distasteful perhaps, but when have I ever cared for taste before? So... Frankly I'm quite frightened that Peach's period lasts the duration of the game. Having to deal with that kind of thing three or so days a month is bad enough, but I'm going to go ahead and assume that this littel adventure takes many, many days. Possibly even a fortnight. Makes you wonder why Mario keeps saving her. Or why Boswer keeps kidnapping her. Oh! Wait! Since you're the one changing her mood, does that mean you're playing as her period? What is Nintendo trying to get at here?
Ugh. I kind of wish I could take that back. I mean, thanks to the miracle of technology that is the backspace key, in theory I could. But it's not going to be happening. Why? I unno.
Moving on, the graphics in yonder game are pretty good. They're kind of on the line between the wackiness of the Mario & Luigi style and the cute, vibrant Yoshi's Island style. Sadly, there aren't any fancy-pants 3D effects, but it's okay. The colourful worlds and baby's-bottom smooth animations are more than enough to suffice. One nice little touch is that depending on your DS' internal clock, the title screen can be at day or night. It's not much, but I like little things like that. I was going to make another really unsavory joke here, but it's too much for even me to write. Just the word period, outside of its grammatical context, is enough to give me the willies.
Sound is a mixed bag. While it's passable and up to par with whatever it's supposed to be measured against, it's just not memorable at all. not once after playing the game did I catch myself humming a tune. It might have been because I mostly played the game early in the morning, and my brin isn't on enough to register music that early, but there's no way around it. The music is forgettable. Sound effects are Nintendo standard. There's nothing overly offensive, but no really great menu selection sounds either. And menu seletion sounds are what make or break a game. On the upside of it all, Peach has far fewer voice samples than Mario and Link do, so that's one less annoyance to worry about. Or at least I didn't notice them, because her voice is so high pitched that only dogs can hear it. My dgs weren't barking at the game either, so I think we're okay.
I really don't know what else to say. Suffice to say, I've gotten really bored with reviewing games. I think I'm evn repeating my greivances about repeating myself now. And that's pretty damn bad. Well, I can at least guarantee this is going to be the only article or anyhitng I ever write with period jokes.
I find it sad that I'm no longer ever trying to hide the filler junk within paragraphs of semi-pertinent stuff.
It hit me around the time that I got to world 3 that playing Super Princess Peach was a very déja vu experience. And while it ook a while to figure it out, I did come to a conclusion: Super Princess Peach is the girl version of Wario Land. Seriously. the only difference is that Wario Land is one of the greatest serieses to ever grace the handheld realm of gamienessness. Yeah whatever. The point is, it's got all the same elements: long and well-designed levels, temporary powers, lots of secrets and alternate routes, and not-overly-difficult gameplay. While they are similar in nature, SPP still can't quite match up the the greatness of Wario Land. I mean, Wario Land 2 is (in my opinion at least) the second best original/colour GameBoy game ever released (next to Pokémn Blue), so that's quite a bit to live up to.
I forget if I've mentioned it already, but Super Princess Peach is really really easy. To quote Planet GameCube's Jonathan Metts, "La Femme Peach and her poison-tipped umbrella take on Bowser's army of whistling forest animals. It's not much of a fight." I mean, it's not like I finished the game without dying or anything, but you don't have any lives, and when you do die, you just get put back at the entrance to the screen you were on. The game even allows you to buy upgrades for your heart meter, and I finished it without buying any, so yeah. The only time you really need to worry about dying is at bosses, because then you have to start the fight all over. It's still no problem though.
In addition to hearts, you can also buy Vibe Gauge extensions, mini-games, music tracks, and all sorts of other crap. In the end though, you only get a small assortment of goodies at the shop. The rest are all scattered throughout the various stages. You even have to go through each level again once you've finished the game, because they've all been relpenished with more junk. Top that off with extra stages in each world during the second playthrough, and you've got a pretty long game. Easy, but long. So I guess it balances itself out somewhat. Finishing every stage and collecting every item will yield a rather useless prize, an unlimited Vibe Gauge. Wow. Totally not worth it if you're doing it for the prize rather than the satisfaction of 100% completion.
In the end, I suppose Super Princess Peach is a decent game. It's relatively fun, and it's certainly got the Mario platformer charm. It's just not something you're going to be playing over and over again. Hell, I just barely made it through the second time. I guess the best thing that could possibly come out of it is that Peach might get a better moveset in Super Smash Bros Brawl. Other than that, my impressions of Super Princess Peach are pretty meh. B+, because I'm a generous guy.
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Note: (it's obvious, but for the sake of good jounalism) all pics stolen from Planet GameCube.