Review by UltimaterializerX
What a disaster this is, my goodness.
This is quite possibly the worst platformer ever made, which is a damn shame because Nintendo got famous on making great platformers. But this is just bottom-tier dreadful, and this comes from a guy who loves Peach as a character and figured a game starring her in the leading role would kick some ass. Not one of my brighter ideas, to say the least.
There isn't much of a plot here, but what little there is is basically awful. Normally in the beginning of a Mario game, Peach gets kidnapped at the very beginning and Mario saves her. In this, it's backwards. Mario and friends get completely wrecked by Bowser's new toy -- embarrassingly called the "Vibe Scepter", which we'll get into in a second -- and ultimately kidnapped. For once, it's up to Peach to save him. It's a cute enough idea, albeit fairly lame. But that's not really the bad part. The issue here is Peach's umbrella quite literally has more character than everyone else in the entire game. An inanimate object is given life and a bunch of character through a series of dream flashbacks, and then you don't even get a conclusion to it when the game ends. You get these evil minions looking for a magic umbrella, it somehow gets abandoned and sold in some market, and no rhyme or reason is given to how Peach ends up with it. Then after all these flashbacks where the umbrella -- not Peach, not Mario or Luigi when you eventually save them, not even Bowser -- but a freaking umbrella is given more screen time and character development than anyone else. How does that even work? Does some guy stare outside on a rainy day and just randomly decide to give the first object he thinks of a life of its own? It wouldn't even be so bad if they actually concluded the plot, but there is literally no mention of the dumb thing once you kill the final boss. A bad plot is one thing, but a bad plot with no conclusion is just unforgivably stupid.
This could have been made up by some good gameplay, the backbone of first party Nintendo titles, but that is not the case. Worth noting here is Nintendo didn't actually design and create Super Princess Peach. They lazily outsourced it to a company named Tose, a secretive developer that big-name companies will often use to design crappy games in a series while agreeing to not take any credit. It's a genius strategy by Tose, when you think about it. If you look at the list of games Tose is confirmed to have made for increasingly lazy companies like Capcom, Square-Enix and Nintendo, almost all of them are awful. Yet it isn't Tose taking the downfall for releases like Super Princess Peach or Resident Evil Survivor, but the parent companies themselves. If you've noticed a trend with your favorite companies cutting more and more corners, odds are they've solicited Tose's services at some point.
Which brings us to the gameplay of Super Princess Peach. It's one thing to be embarrassingly easy, or boring, or have bad collision detection, or dumb prerequisites for advancing and so forth. But Super Princess Peach is just so bad in so many areas one really had to wonder if Tose did all this on purpose to troll Nintendo.
The main gameplay gimmick here is Peach having four different "vibes" to play around with while on her quest to save Mario. She can sit around doing nothing to heal, get super cheery to fly, get pissed off to turn into a hellfire of destruction, or ball her eyes out to run twice as fast. No exaggeration, either. Peach's special powers in this game effectively amount to making her PMS at a moment's notice, and the odd thing is that the skills are so good and overpowered that they render almost all of the game's main puzzles irrelevant. Sure it takes some time to get to where the vibe gauge regenerates, but it's not like the game is at all challenging until then. Most of the time you can just fly to where you need to go, and all the unusual objects you come across are figured out by messing around with the three non-healing ways Peach can screw with stuff. Almost none of the puzzles actively prevent you from using your vibes, and it's no coincidence the rare puzzles that do are among the coolest parts of the game. But they're so few and far between that they hardly hold the game up. Arguably the worst part of the whole vibe system is having to activate them via the touch screen, which is almost impossible to do with a stylus since you need both hands operating everything else and thus having nothing free to manipulate a stylus with, so you end up activating them with your thumbs. This turns the touch screen into a smudgy piece of crap similar to how the iPhone looks after it's been used for a day. Just a bad design choice all around.
There isn't much to say about the actual platforming because there is so little of it. Oh there are levels, don't get me wrong, but they're so unmemorable and boring that the game barely feels like a video game. There's very little in the way of variety, challenge or fun. Fall in a bottomless pit? No worries, you only lose half a heart. Get sucked up by the big scary background face in the last level? No worries, you lose no hearts at all and get to retry ad infinitum. What a joke.
When controlling Peach, her normal controls are very clunky, especially if you're expecting her to control like she did in Super Mario Bros. 2. They could have done some very interesting things here had they kept that handling in place and built around it, but instead we got an entire game where almost all the puzzles are rendered irrelevant by the vibe system. What few enemies do exist are easily swatted away by whacking them with an umbrella once or twice, making an easy game cross over into the territory of "mindless", and the kicker is how horrible this game's collision detection is. Prepare to take a lot of hits from enemies that flat-out should not happen, all while Peach refuses to ever be quiet about any of it. Then you get the standard YOUR HEALTH IS LOW noise, which is something that needs to disappear from gaming for good. You can see your hearts, you don't need auditory reminders of having only one left. You of course have the standard forced DS touch screen nonsense apparent in almost all first party Nintendo titles on this system, like having to blow in a microphone to attack while in a submarine or a host of awful touch screen-only mini games before every boss. If you thought you'd be able to play this game in public without completely embarrassing yourself, think again.
Worst of all is the Toad hunt. Remember flowers and red coins in Yoshi's Island and how it was to get them all? Of course you do. Now imagine no red coins, all the fun sucked out of getting the flowers and having to find ALL the flowers before being allowed to fight the final boss. That's what Super Princess Peach does to you; you have to find all three hidden Toads in every level of the game before you're able to fight the last boss. It's every bit as dumb, tedious and annoying as it sounds, believe me. The only saving grace is being able to exit a stage back to the world map any time you want.
The bosses had potential, but most telegraph their attacks and basically invite you to kill them. The final boss, no lie, hands you bombs and invites you to blow him up. There's really nothing about the gameplay that makes this game any fun at all, and don't expect graphics or music to save this either. Both are very lame if not childish to a horrible degree, there is no real atmosphere to speak of and you're better off playing the game on mute with how awful the music is.
Super Princess Peach fails almost every test there is when it comes to being even an average game -- boring, tedious, not fun at all, bad control setup, et al -- let alone a good one. The only real entertainment to be gleaned here is the possibility of Tose making this game bad on purpose to sully Nintendo's reputation, but it's not like Nintendo needs help in that department these days and it isn't worth the tradeoff of having to play it to find out.
Perhaps the worst thing of all is Peach's character getting completely ruined by this game. She had a good thing going after Super Smash Bros. Melee, but Super Princess Peach and Brawl combined to completely destroy it. She went from "strong and able" to whining and overt PMS. What a shame.
Rating: 0.5 - Unplayable
Product Release: Super Princess Peach (US, 02/27/06)
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