IGN Review of Super Princess Peach
When Super Princess Peach arrived in the IGN offices, the box it came in literally permeated the air with an overwhelmingly flowery, peach scent. Call it a clue to where Nintendo's targeting its new platformer. Though the final, released game won't be covered in perfume, it should be clear to you just by the title what you're getting into: a Mario-style game that's more likely than not aimed at a more feminine, and less hardcore, girl audience. Even with this aim, Nintendo still manages to produce a fine platformer with plenty of references to its classic Mushroom Kingdom franchise. Just keep in mind that it won't be nearly as challenging to complete.
Super Princess Peach definitely shows Nintendo's expertise in the platform genre. After all, the company built an empire with the Super Mario series and all that experience has clearly been put into Super Princess Peach, albeit in a slightly more sugared and simplified design. Control is unbelievably tight and responsive, with many of the same gameplay mechanics of Super Mario employed in Princess' adventure: stomping enemies, smashing blocks, and collecting coins are three key elements to Super Princess Peach's design. And many of the locations and enemies in this platformer are welcome nods to the Mario franchise.
Though the game follows the Mario formula of simply getting to the victory point, the actual challenge is to use her powers to find three lost Toad characters in each level. Princess Peach's unique theme is her parasol, which enables her to not just whack enemies over the head, but also to scoop up baddies off the ground and throw 'em up, down, left or right. This umbrella can also gulp down certain enemies, a technique that will fill up Peach's Vibe power - another key element in the overall gameplay. Vibe is Peach's emotional state and taking control over her four emotions is absolutely integral to getting through the game's challenges.
Hitting her "happiness," for example, will make her float with glee, sending her flying around in a whirlwind that will allow her to reach new heights as well as blow away certain enemies with a powerful gust. Princess can also hit a bout of flaming rage that will burn bridges, light torches, and ignite specific items blocking the path. When Princess cries, she bawls a river of tears that'll grow flowers and spin watermills. Since her Vibe power is limited, there is a level of balance and conservation needed to put these powers to use - no Vibe power, no emotions. So players will have to do a bit of back-and-forth in a level to build up her Vibe meter.
As solidly designed as this platformer is, it's hard to believe that this game was originally intended for the Nintendo DS. Oh, sure, there are dual-screen and touch-screen elements in play, including a batch of collectible mini-games and pre-boss challenges that require the use of the stylus. But the majority of the game's second screen functionality is relegated to simply giving players four more buttons to activate Peach's different vibe powers. If you think about it, this control could have easily been assigned to a shoulder button toggle instead. With this in mind, through most of the experience Super Princess Peach feels like it was a title originally created for the GBA but shelved and brought back from the dead for the Nintendo DS platform.
The graphics could be a give away that the game might not have been originally intended for the Nintendo DS: its style definitely keeps with the look and feel of classic Super Mario Bros. games, but Super Princess Peach lacks a bit of visual pizzazz that Nintendo's platform designs adopted when the teams got their hands around more powerful hardware. Classic Super Mario games looked simple because the hardware dictated it - Super Princess Peach looks simple because that was the design team's choice. The DS is certainly way more capable than what's going on here - while it's officially a DS product, it's just a little suspicious if the DS was the intended platform.
But that doesn't hurt the game's entertainment value. For a very traditional Mario-style platformer, Super Princess Peach is a quality product. It might not quite reach Nintendo's A game, but it definitely exceeds the expectations that people might have for a "girlie" product such as this.
What does affect the enjoyment, especially for gamers looking for a decent Nintendo challenge, is the main game's easy level of difficulty. Nintendo goes completely out of its way to spoon-feed the player, going so far as to nearly spell out the solution to every boss battle before the player enters the fight. Princess Peach can get hit multiple times without dying, and she even has the ability to heal herself with a Vibe emotion. On top of this, players can spend their coins to add more hit points to her power bar, making things even easier for the player. The game's puzzle elements aren't exactly mysterious or challenging, and even the "hidden" elements, like the lost Toads, puzzle pieces, and mini-games, aren't exactly in a mysterious spot -- the game alerts players when they've entered a room where one is scattered.
But the benefit of an easier Nintendo platformer is, ultimately, an easier way to get that fun, satisfying sense of accomplishment. Super Princess Peach's main game is a good length for a Nintendo action game on the go, with a bit more added to the mix by a smattering of mini-game challenges to purchase and unlock. None of these extras offer a whole lot of creative use of the Nintendo DS platform, but they do a decent job of beefing up the experience.
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