Super Princess Peach Nintendo DS Review

Throughout the years, Princess Peach hasn’t proven to be very bright, has she? Constantly wandering off on her own, easy pickings for Bowser to kidnap, and another chore for Mario to go off rescuing her once again. Thing is, Bowser’s not too bright either. Kidnapping Peach over and over again, knowing full well that Mario will soon be on his way to get her back. And his record in fighting Mario isn’t exactly great is it? He’s sure to lose and be all the way back to square one.

You’d think he’d come up with another tactic! Well, funny you should mention that, because Bowser just had a new idea. Bolstered by the power of a magic sceptre, he’s kidnapped Mario, Luigi and Toad, and has them all safely locked up. Nothing can now stand in his way of world domination. Or can it? Well, Peach is not just a pretty face, and she’s very grateful to Mario for all those rescues over the years. And now…she’s determined to repay the favour.

Graphics
The graphics are bright and colourful, just as would be expected from a game set within the Mario world. The characters are beautifully animated and the game is chock full of character. The worlds are very different in design, but all are charming to look at. This isn’t up there with the best on the DS in terms of looks, but it’s not massively behind either. Anyway, since when have Mario games been about the visuals, it’s all about the…..

Gameplay
This is, simply put, Nintendo doing what Nintendo does best. The game is a side scrolling platform game in the Mario tradition, and that should be enough to get most gamers very excited without reading another word. Make no mistake, this may not feature Mario as the playable character, but this is a Mario game! So, what would we expect from a Mario game? Varied worlds, each with many sub levels? Check! Hitting blocks and collecting coins? Check! Alternate level paths with many hidden areas and collectables? Goombas? Green pipes? Addictively catchy music? Check! It’s all here!

Players will make their way through the worlds, and the idea here is to save toads and reach the level goal. Reaching the level goal will clear the stage, but that’s only half the story. In each level, there are 3 toads to save, and in typical Mario style, they are not just sitting there waiting for you, they are well hidden in clever, intricately designed worlds that are just crying out for exploration. You’ll get closer and closer to Bowser, and your ultimate aim – to rescue your Italian buddies!

Peach is a pleasure to control, with the d-pad and buttons providing superbly responsive input. She has the usual array of moves, running, sneaking, jumping etc. However, she also has an ally in the form of a magical talking umbrella named Perry. Yes, you read it right, but this is Mario after all. Perry is used as a weapon to whack enemies with, but is also fully upgradeable throughout the game, providing Peach with extra moves like floating and ground pounding.

At the core of the gameplay mechanic are Peach’s vibes. These are moods that can be activated, providing your vibe meter has some juice. The vibe meter can be filled up by collecting icons around the level or by ‘absorbing’ enemies. Peach has four moods, each of which will activate certain special abilities. These moods are:

1. Joy – this will wrap a cyclone around Peach, enabling her to float and reach the highest areas.
2. Rage – Peach gets mad and is covered in flames, great for melting ice, or burning wooden obstacles.
3. Gloom – Peach will cry uncontrollably, but you can use her tears to put out fires or to make plants grow.
4. Calm – Peach chills out and her hit points gradually refill, very useful for when you are low on health.

The moods are activated by touching icons on the bottom screen, and are then turned off in the same way. They also only last for as long as there is juice in the vibe meter. It is awkward to use the d-pad and buttons and hold the stylus at the same time, but thankfully the mood icons are plenty big enough to be activated by a touch with your thumb.

The touch screen isn’t used for much else, except a few mini games. In fact, apart from these mini games and odd times you’ll use the microphone, the game doesn’t really make use of the DS’s unique features at all. Don’t let that put you off though, I don’t think this game could have been done, graphically, on the GBA, so it seems Nintendo were thinking extra horsepower rather than features in choosing the DS for this game.

Like any Mario game, there are also countless things to collect in each level. Sure you can just run through and reach the goal in the quickest time, but that’s missing so much of the good stuff. Along with the 3 toads to save in each level, you can collect music notes, voice samples and puzzle pieces. All of these allow you to access really good extras from the menu, and you’ll definitely want to collect as many as you can.

Boss battles are all present and correct, and are also very inventive in nature. You’ll need to think about your strategy and make full use of Peach’s moves and moods to progress.

There’s also a shop where you can buy things with the coins you collect, such as umbrella upgrades, puzzle pieces and expansions of your hit points and vibe meter.

Sound
If you’ve played the Mario games previously, you’ll know what to expect from the sound department. The tunes are addictively catchy, and many seem to be remixed variations of older Mario tunes. That’s no criticism, though. It’s a welcome nod to a grand heritage and the tunes are different enough to be worth listening to again. You will certainly not want to turn the music off, as it adds a lovely atmosphere to the game, and surely that’s all we can expect.

There is a little voice acting, but this is limited to a few stock phrases from Peach, and the messages of thanks from each individual toad you save. This is typical Mario fare as far as the sounds go, and believe me, that’s no bad thing.

Lifespan
If you dash through each level, simply reaching the goal, saving the toads and beating the bosses, then this will be a short game. However, if you do that, you’re missing a huge amount that this game has to offer. In fact, if you do that, I can only think you haven’t played a Mario game before, and don’t know what’s on offer.

To collect everything the game has to offer will take considerably longer, somewhere between 15 and 20 hours, and even then the high score mini games will keep you coming back.

You’ll get good value for your £30 here, don’t worry about that!

Overall
This is an excellent game. It’s full of character and is an absolute dream to play. It’s a little on the easy side, and can be quickly completed if you blast through it. But take your time with it and this is close to gaming nirvana.

A side scrolling, 2D Mario game is a treat in this day and age, and we are soon to have two with this and New Super Mario Brothers. And that may be a problem for Super Princess Peach….many gamers may overlook this in anticipation of the new Mario game. Don’t be one of those gamers, as it would be a real shame for you to miss this. It’s a great game worth playing in its own right.

Take my advice. Approach your gaming like a meal, and consider this the starter to the new Super Mario’s main course. It might not be quite as substantial, or as filling, but while it lasts it’s every bit as delicious and you’ll certainly be glad you tried it.

8 out of 10
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