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Nintendo DS Review: Super Princess Peach

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It doesn’t matter who stars, as long as players are pushing through the various hazards of the Mushroom Kingdom in 2-D. In this case, Princess Peach has finally avoided being kidnapped and has chosen to take on the burden of defeating Bowser alone. She’ll do so in classic fashion, making this one of the best additions to the Mario universe in years.

One of Super Princess Peach’s highlights is a purpose to the mindless gold coin collecting we’ve been subjected to for years. While Peach comes pre-equipped with the necessary tools to take on a variety of familiar enemies, you can buy upgrades in a shop. She carries a magic umbrella wherever she goes to combat foes (in addition to the familiar and still painful head stomp), and upgrading this leads to a small variety of new maneuvers. It’s not much, but enough to change things around to avoid repetition.

The eight levels Peach traverses are all familiar territory for platform fans. Lava, slippery ice, under water, and other standard hazardous levels are included. The only thing missing is a mine cart ride. Level design isn’t out of the ordinary and only truly excels a few times. Unlike a typical Mario, Peach’s design is laid back to allow for exploration instead of timed run-throughs.

That’s important too, because in order to gain access to the final levels, you’ll need to find Toads scattered around. Hidden isn’t the appropriate word for the most part. The vast majority are in plain view as you run around the stages. There’s an indicator on the lower screen when you enter a segment that has one, and if you have the rumble pack, this absolutely ensures you don’t miss it.

Herein lies the game’s problem. At no point does the game ever stop holding the player’s hand. Boss fights are generally classic in their puzzle-like design. Before entering the warp pipe to face them, you’re given a hint block to hit and reveal the secret. While you do have the option not to hit it, temptation usually wins out.

It’s not only the boss fights either. Peach comes with four different emotions. Each has their specific uses, whether to clear an obstacle, regain health, or cause massive damage to nearby enemies. While limited in use, these are easy to abuse, taking away nearly all the challenging jumps and platform hopping. Falling into a pit, a death that will forever remain a video game staple, can’t even stop Peach. If you miss a hop, you’re taken to the beginning of the section with only a small nick off your health.

While breezing through this one shouldn’t pose a problem for anyone, the Nintendo charm and an extra count way over what was needed add to the value. The Mushroom Kingdom is alive this time around, with emotional enemies, a superb variety of animations, and little details like Peach holding her dress down when she begins a fall, add up to ensure this is a first-party Nintendo game all the way through. When beaten, more of Peach’s world opens up to keep the gamer playing.

That’s only one part of extras, in addition, there is the option of playing through the game the second time with a definitely more apparent difficulty. Other special features include a selection of DS-only style mini-games, puzzles (complete faster to set a new time record), and a massive selection of in-game music to listen to from the menu.

Aside from the difficulty complaints (or lack thereof), the only stumbling blocks are touch screen based mini-games before entering into the boss stages. As extras outside of the main game, they would merely be throwaways. Forced onto the player until they beat them (they can mercifully be skipped when playing through a second time), the occasionally unresponsive controls and irritating design bring the entire package down, along with unnecessary constant beeping when your health is low.

While completely different pieces of software in terms of design and play style, Super Princess Peach manages to hold its own when faced with New Super Mario Bros. It’s a 2-D Nintendo created platformer. It’s hard to imagine what could possibly go wrong with that unmistakable combo, and Princess Peach sticks to the expectations.

Super Princess Peach is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB for Comic Mischief.

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About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years and is the reviews editor for Pulp365.com. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can read Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
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