Princess Peach: Showtime! Review

Opening Night Jitters
Princess Peach Showtime header

There’s nothing quite like a night at the theatre. The escapism, the fantastical narratives, the impressive stage design; all of this awaited Princess Peach as she was invited to the Sparkle Theater for what promised to be a wonderful evening in Princess Peach: Showtime!. However, rather than having to put up with someone talking throughout, or a screaming child in the front row, Peach has to deal with Madame Grape and the Sour Bunch invading the building and corrupting everything.

Trapped in the building, Peach has to take the leading role of various plays to save them from becoming tragedies. Each role comes with a magical girl transformation sequence and a set of abilities our leading lady can use to progress in that play. Broadly speaking, these can be divided into more action-based stages and more puzzle-based ones, and with three instances of each transformation, you get to spend a decent time with each ability set.

You could be a detective investigating crimes through talking to witnesses and examining evidence to progress, become a cowgirl and riding around on horseback with lasso in hand, or even a thief hacking through systems and grappling through complex structures to find your target. The sheer breadth of gameplay styles found throughout is the game’s biggest strength.

Princess Peach Showtime Swordfighter

The theatre is laid out in floors, each of which comes with four plays and a final stage for a boss encounter. These bosses bridge the gap between puzzle and action, with a set pattern required to dispatch them – and no transformation powers either. Once you have dealt with them you can move to the next floor with a group of new plays to save, and so on. Unfortunately, this is where a huge weakness appears: this game doesn’t pose much of a challenge.

I’m not under any illusion that I’m the target audience here, but I was able to get to the end of the game with very little difficulty. Even the bosses themselves posed no problems, with me taking little, if any damage in any of them. I could see the base game proving a little more challenging for younger players, and this didn’t detract much from my enjoyment of playing it, but I wish there were more elements up to the credits that tested my abilities.

There are, of course, the Rehearsals that unlock after completing each floor. These test your abilities with different transformations in little challenges, such as one with the Swordfighter that tasks you with dispatching a certain amount of enemies in the time limit without taking damage. But these Rehearsals are both sparing in number and can be an exercise in frustration – I’m looking at you, Dashing Thief Rehearsal and your insistence on using the worst part of the transformation abilities.

Princess Peach Showtime Thief

This all being said, the challenge here is not in finishing the stages ahead of you, but in finding everything that stages have to offer. In each play, you can find a set number of Sparkles and a ribbon. The Sparkles can be obtained through completing objectives, additional hidden challenges, or simply be hidden in the set dressing of the plays themselves. Finding all of them in a play isn’t essential, but unlocks a few things later in the game.

Also, given that some of them are devilishly well-hidden, it did result in multiple playthroughs of levels to find them all. Similarly, the ribbons that are hidden in each level can be difficult to find. Always held by a Pheet in each play, you have to often not only find them, but solve a small puzzle to help them out in some way. This sometimes just involves getting them out of some kind of trap, but can also involve locating an item, or saving them from enemies.

You can acquire everything in a play on your first run-through, if you’re paying attention and explore everywhere, and I would recommend doing so wherever you can. Why? Because you can skip all of the cutscenes to save time, but not the in-level scenes for each play. Believe me, having to go through the entire level again with every in-game scene multiple times to find something you missed can get exhausting!

Princess Peach Showtime Patissiere

Even if you don’t find all the Sparkles, I’d recommend searching for the ribbons in every play as they unlock new dress and ribbon designs for Peach and her companion Stella. You can buy a certain amount of designs for each character from the shop on the first floor using the coins you find in the plays, but the ones you acquire from finding the ribbon in each play are thematically linked to the transformation, some of which are incredible to behold.

Speaking of which, the visual design throughout Princess Peach: Showtime! is genuinely excellent. Everything in the game plays into the idea of it being set in a theatre, from the grandiose design of the setting to the loading screens for the plays being a pair of plush curtains that raise up at the sound of a klaxon. The hidden areas of the plays even take place in what clearly are backstage areas. The game is a testament to Nintendo’s talents for committing to a theme.

Further to this, the design of Peach’s transformation sequences are exquisite, and the designs of the levels themselves being both clever and visually distinct. The problems with the game from this area is that it falls foul of the limited technology of the Nintendo Switch. As thematically great as the loading screens are, they do last a bit too long, and the frame rate just cannot maintain any kind of consistency.

Princess Peach Showtime Detective

It’s a shame because when it looks great it looks truly great, but the niggles are hard to ignore when they are this consistent. Plus, from a personal standpoint, the sound design and music don’t quite hit the same note as the visuals. The voice lines from Peach are great, and the music is thematically excellent, but it feels like this area didn’t receive the same level of care and attention as others. In fact, I cannot recall a single piece of music as I sit here writing, which is a shame considering the levels of polish elsewhere.

Summary
Princess Peach: Showtime! is a good game, but It will not be for everyone and those with decent gaming experience won’t find a challenge here... but that isn’t the point. This foray with Peach into acting scratches that itch of a game that is just a fun little time within minimal stress or worry – something we all need right now. Peach's adventure isn't anything groundbreaking, but the commitment to its theming and spades of the classic Nintendo charm make it worth sticking with until the curtain call.
Good
  • Theming is impeccable
  • Visually stunning
  • Detective Peach
Bad
  • A little too easy
  • Frame rate struggles
  • Please let me skip in-game scenes, Nintendo!
7

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